Brass Tacks: Supernatural vs Paranormal; Vampire vs Zombie

[tweetmeme source=”breeogden” only_single=false]

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.


Next up: We figure out where ghosts fit in this whole crazy semantic mess. Then robots.

12 thoughts on “Brass Tacks: Supernatural vs Paranormal; Vampire vs Zombie

  1. This is fantastic. I think a lot of things really blur the lines. Which category would ghosts fit into? Witches? Werewolves would fall in with vampires as Supernatural, I imagine.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Brass Tacks: Supernatural vs Paranormal; Vampire vs Zombie | this literary life --

  3. Where have you been my whole life??? Normally these are the kinds of conversations that provoke security guards to ask us to leave the mall… then they find out we’re all in our twenties (or older) and get real embarrassed and end up asking us to just lower our voices because we’re scaring people… :)

    For the sake of argument, you could say that vampires were paranormal because they are ‘beyond the typically accepted perimeters of nature’…

    Oh, and I looked up both in Wikipedia to see what I got:

    A zombie is an undead person, or, figuratively, a very apathetic person.

    A vampire is an undead creature in legend and fiction.

    I thought it was interesting that a Zombie is defined factually while a vampire is specifically referred to as pertaining to legends or fiction.

  4. Zombies are factual and have been proven to exist in the natural world as you have mentioned (not the George R. way, but the Wes Craven way). They are beyond the normal state of human being. They are para-normal for sure. They have no super power, no super sense of being, and therefore they are not super-natural (unless they are pumped full of weird drugs and run around at hyper speeds).

    Vampires, are born from literary romantic visions of a madman (Vlad the Impaler) that did exist but never sucked blood to survive. Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood because she thought it would make her eternal, that however did not work.

    So yes, you are correct! Those editors will need to change their marketing and stop calling it paranormal romance. Unless it is two zombies who have the hots for each other. And if you are a zombie and you kiss. Most likely your lips will fall off in the other zombies mouth. Pretty gross. But true.

  5. I think werewolves and witches might fall into the same category as vampires. But what about Frankenstein (the monster, not the doctor of course). He is kind of a zombie, but not really. Science played a part in his regeneration, yet it was fictional science. Hmmmmmm.

  6. Pingback: Operation Hot VLOGGER! Ending August with a BANG | this literary life

  7. Pingback: Create A Scene Tuesday (8) « Ketch Tavern

  8. Hello, Bree.

    I would say that the supernatural would involve magic spells or sorcery. The paranormal doesn’t. So:

    Doctor Stephen Strange, Harry Potter, Gandalf = Supernatural.
    Professor Xavier, Carrie White = Paranormal.

    Zombies and vampires might be one or the other depending upon how they were created or empowered. In Marvel Comics, vampires were created with evil magic, the Darkhold. These vampires are supernatural. In many contemporary films, vampirism comes about due to a virus. These vampires are paranormal.

    Just my two cents.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s