Two things happened to me recently that turned my world a little on its side: 1) writers at a writer’s conference asked me what I was looking for in YA and I said ‘no more paranormal.’ But then they asked me if I liked zombies and I said I LOVED zombies. They all laughed at me ironically. 2) I had a conversation with someone in which I made the statement: I do not like paranormal, but I love supernatural. I pretty much stopped myself short, realizing mid-word (and remembering the writer’s conference) that I actually had no idea what the difference is between the two words.
We both immediately whipped out our iPhones:
So yea… thanks for nothing, dictionary.
Friends and readers, lovers and haters: We have a mission to complete. What IS what?!
Let’s start with prefixes.
Para: beyond …beyond normal.
Super: above; over; beyond …above natural; over natural; beyond natural
So again, thanks for nothing, prefixes. BUT WAAIT! Prefix be damned! It’s the stem that matters in this case. Am I totally right, or what?!
Normal: usual; typical; standard
Natural: existing in, or caused by nature
We have had it wrong this WHOLE time. Twilight is not paranormal YA romance. Twilight is supernatural YA romance. Vampires, as far as we know at this moment, do not exist in nature. They are supernatural.
Zombies however do exist in nature. Zombies in Voodoo, Haitian zombies…those zombie ants I read about the other day! They exist, maybe not George R. style, but zombies are much more eligible to exist in nature and are therefore beyond typical: paranormal.
Brass tacks: Vampires are beyond existing in nature (supernatural) and zombies are beyond typical (paranormal).
If you are still reading, I have four words for you: You’re a Champ, Matt.
READERS: WEIGH IN!!!
Next up: We figure out where ghosts fit in this whole crazy semantic mess. Then robots.