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I Love You, I'll Kill You: Paranormal Love Affairs by Esther Mitchell

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This is a fun area, likely to get a lot of protest from the Paranormal Romance community simply because it’s one of the least-researched problems of paranormal fiction. But after reading hundreds of books in which “Buffy” (an exaggeration for example only) falls for the very creature s/he is hunting so avidly, I decided something had to be done.

The pairing of Hunter and Prey is one of the most implausible in all of the Romance industry. Why, you ask?

It’s simple, really. Hunters are a special breed, whether they’re human, or Stregoni Benefici (a vampire-hunting vampire), or any other kind of creature. What makes a Hunter so special is his/her obsessive dedication to the eradication of an entire group of paranormal creatures. This very trait is also what makes it highly unlikely s/he would ever fall for his/her prey. The idea is a lot like a female cop who’s dedicated her life to ridding the streets of every rapist falling in love with a multiple-conviction offender. That’s going to take a huge leap to even consider, and as a reader, there's just too much gag factor to overcome. My advice to paranormal authors looking to create a love affair between a Hunter and his/her Prey is to forget the idea of succeeding within a single title – not unless you have one hell of a plot device or character twist up your sleeve. Getting a Hunter to fall for his/her prey is a series commitment, if I ever saw one.

Now, let’s tackle some of the basics of a Hunter. First off, they’re not all buff, athletic types with gun/sword master skills (though woe be to the Vampire Slayer who doesn’t at least know how to use a sword, even if they haven’t mastered it). Hunters come in all shapes and sizes, a variety of ages, and a literally limitless pool under the “walk of life” category. What sets the Hunter apart is his/her dedication. Without exception, they’re dedicated to their cause – which is invariably the extinction of some form of paranormal being or another.

Hunters aren’t alone, either. Along with them come Investigators, and what I like to call “Collaborators.” A Hunter may start his/her paranormal career as an Investigator or Collaborator (though this is in no way a requirement), and may even continue to investigate other forms of the paranormal while Hunting one type. By the same token, at any point in his/her career, a Hunter may become, either buy choice or necessity, a Collaborator with another group of paranormal beings, in order to better hunt his/her prey.

It’s possible for an Investigator who is not a Hunter to fall for a paranormal being s/he is investigating. It can come with the territory to be fascinated with and even obsessed with the idea of interacting with a particular entity or type of creature. In this same vein, it’s more than likely that a Collaborator will form at least some kind of connection to those they collaborate with. They are the most likely of all to end up in love with a member of the paranormal society they empathize so well with. However, it’s almost unheard of for a Hunter to fall for prey.

The case of the Hunter/Prey love affair leaves an author who insists on doing it with only a few choices: write a single title that’s likely to have either very flat/inaccurate characters, write a series with a lot of traumatic upheaval that’s going to eventually, over time, wear down your Hunter’s resistance (and ergo require tons of research over the course of the series), or admit that the idea is more involved than you first thought, and change the Hunter to either an Investigator or a Collaborator.

Oh, and as a final note, if your Hunter at any point works with the paranormal being in question against someone else, that instantly makes him/her a Collaborator, which a Hunter would never willingly do with chosen Prey.

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