I just read another paranormal book last night, and, like most paranormal books, the protagonist (and her friends, in this one) had a super-power. She was like a magnet around metal. Oh, and she could create fire. One of her friends could shape-shift into a crow. And the third could mix spiffy potions.
Of these three, it seems to me that only the third would be useful in real life. Seriously, being a magnet would be more dangerous than not, and what good, really, is being a crow, other than for having fun flying around?
I like to think my own paranormal creations have more practical super-powers. Eric, in the Half-Vampire novels, can see really well in the dark. That could be really handy -- even in a world without vampires. Going anywhere at night would be a lot easier. The possessor of such a gift would be much safer, too.
Brigid, in Becoming Brigid, is pretty much immortal -- as long as she can heal herself. She also gets to be eternally young. Not a bad deal, really.
The appeal of magic powers is pretty simple, when it comes right down to it. We all want control -- and preferably MORE control than John Doe. We don't want to be the ones who are hurt, tricked, killed, or having to live in fear.
Of course, since the actual world doesn't have vampires, evil wizards, mischievous fairies, etc., many of the magical abilities in books would be pretty useless, like the aforementioned ability to turn into a crow.
(And suddenly I'm thinking of writing a book wherein multiple characters have useless paranormal abilities: the ability to command sloths, the ability to predict the price of boxed cereal in any store on any given day, the ability to sing cats to sleep.)
If I got to have a paranormal ability for living in the real world, I think I'd like the ability to repel selected living creatures at will.
Just think of the possibilities! No one would ever block me on the freeway again; they'd have an irrepressible urge to pull over and let me pass. All dogs living within 500 feet of my home would run away to find new owners -- and I would never again have to listen to hours and hours of barking. All people walking their dogs to let them poop on my lawn would hurry past instead. I would never have to kill another spider inside my house or worry about termites again! The obnoxious parents at parent-teacher conference would not get close to my line, thus leaving me with only reasonable people to deal with. Neighbors I don't like would move away, allowing decent folks to move in. I would be free to walk about in less-safe areas when I travel, as all suspicious people would feel the need to avoid me. The construction workers blocking our driveway right now would feel compelled to leave immediately. I would never have to use insect repellant again. I wouldn't have to wait in long lines for anything, as those in front of me would feel the need to leave until I finished.
Yes, I think this would be a highly useful super-power.
What super-power would you choose?