Saturday Conversations: Violence in Urban Fantasy

Posted August 17, 2013 by Jen in Authors After Dark, Saturday Conversations Tags: , , , , , , ,


Thresholds for Violence in Urban Fantasy Books

Greetings to you all from Authors After Dark 2013: Savannah Nights! I am having a wonderful time connecting and reconnecting with authors, publishers, readers and bloggers. Although the weather hasn’t been great, we’ve been living it up here at the hotel.

On Friday, I attended a fabulous panel discussion titled KICK ASS, TAKE NAMES, featuring Amanda Bonilla, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kendall Grey, Kait BallengerAmanda Carlson and Dianna Love. The panel focused on having a “kick-ass” heroine, and they discussed questions like “Do you enjoy writing fight scenes?” and discussed what aspects of their characters, other than physical strength, make them strong women. But there was one question that piqued my interest more than the others… “Do you (the author) have a limit or threshold for violence in your book?”

Author Panel at AAD Savannah


I found it interesting, with answers ranging from “My editor told me I had to tone it down and cut back on some of the violence,” to “My vampire hunter didn’t pick up a weapon until the third book.” Some authors love putting their heroines through hell, while others prefer keeping it less violent.

This got me thinking… do I have a violence limit to what I’ll take in my reading? And I realized – yes, yes I do. While I don’t mind gritty, dirty and bloody, I don’t really care for violence just for the sake of fighting. If the scene calls for self-defense, saving another, or protecting someone… I am so into kicking ass. I love a great fight scene, and I don’t need the heroine to win in order for me to enjoy it. Details are good because it helps me visualize the scene, like a moving playing in my mind. However, if the heroine, or someone close to her, is being tortured… I have a tough time. I have had to put down a couple books during or after a rough torture scene. I have DNF’d a book because I felt the main character was subject to too much torture. I have limits in violence when it comes to torture.

However, as a few of the authors pointed out, and I completely agree with, torture of a character is usually used for and needed to develop a storyline emotionally. Books that have “successful” torture scenes are ones that create an emotional investment in the heroine. They also deal with the outfall from the violence. It doesn’t just go away, and the character is transformed in some way. I will tolerate torture if it isn’t overly graphic or contain gratuitous violence AND if there is emotional growth and character development.

What about you? Do you have limits to how much violence you will take in an urban fantasy story? Is there a difference between active participation fighting and character torture? Have you ever stopped reading a book because of the violence?

Thank you for stopping by to chat! Happy Reading!


6 responses to “Saturday Conversations: Violence in Urban Fantasy

  1. Yes I most certainly do, violence against women or children especially in a domestic setting can usually make me skip a page or two.

    If a woman is fighting back and has a chance of winning I can continue reading, but if it is violence from a bully I find it quite hard.

    • I agree! If it is violence on “innocents” I too will only take so much. It’s one thing for our heroes and heroines fight… They are supposed to. But those not trained to fight getting beat up is not fun reading.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  2. It hasn’t happened to me yet but you never know. So far all the violence I’ve read in books has been well within my limits. Blood and gore doesn’t bother me. I think as long as it’s tastefully written it’s okay.

  3. I’m fine with any level of violence. But when it comes to rape or anything to do with a kid I prefer is off stage or little details. I understand these things happen and can be a big part of the plot and as long as it’s done to advance the story line and not added just for the shock value I’m ok with it.