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Will Davis at the Guardian Blogs that Vampires Are Forever

Vampires are becoming mainstream just as they are losing steam within the romance genre. Last week, Candy blogged about a “certain notorious biology professor from Minnesota” who “notices the massive wall o’ befanged man-titty” at his local Wal-mart. This week sees Guardian book blogger, Will Davis, consider the allure of the vampire.

Davis sees Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” as the sire of the modern vampire novel which turns Dracula from the villain into the dark hero. Davis believes that the vampire has a James Dean-like allure, particularly for teens.

Not only are vamps portrayed as sophisticated loners, reviled by their peers and tormented by their bloodlust, but for some reason they like to hang about in schools.

It seems to me that vampires are less popular amongst romance readers with more and more emphasis on the shapeshifters. The question, I suppose, is whether the paranormal trend will swing back toward increased vampire stories. I’m ready to move on. How about you?

Thanks RebeccaJ for the link.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. Laura K
    May 21, 2008 @ 22:36:26

    I'm ready to move on. How about you?

    I’ve been ready for a long, long time. But I feel that way about anything that’s so overdone that everyone feels the need to jump on the bandwagon. A couple years ago it was all-chick-lit-all-the-time and romance writers who I’d really liked suddenly felt the need to write about 20-something fashionistas.

    If a few people write vamps, and a few write shapeshifters, and a few write psychics or whatever, that’s great. But you just can’t get away from it at the moment–trying to find a basic, no-paranormal-elements romantic suspense is really hard.

  2. Tracey
    May 22, 2008 @ 03:38:44

    Seriously, every other romance novel, both in print and e-published, seems to be a vampire novel. And two-thirds of the remaining novels seem to involve some kind of shapeshifter.

    Now, I like shapeshifter stories, though I liked them more when there were fewer of them. And when I was younger, I used to like vampire stories. But now…there’s so many vampire stories out there that I’m reminded of Arduinna Finn’s essay about people all writing the same kind of fiction being like people who keep bringing hummus to a potluck banquet:

    So with every cycle, we wind up with more and more identical hummus on the table. There are already other dishes, true, and people are still bringing other dishes, but it’s getting to the point where no one dares to say that stew or lasagne or even a peanut-butter sandwich makes a better dinner than a bite of store-bought lemon-garlic hummus.

    Because if you say that, ‘cooks’ might get ticked off and stop bringing said hummus — and we can’t allow that to happen, because so many diners are afraid that without hummus there’d be nothing to eat. And no one stops to think that the people who are making the other dishes, the *meals*, are getting discouraged about putting in any effort, because it seems that no one cares about anything except store-bought lemon-garlic hummus.

    I urge you to read the whole essay. It’s brilliant.

    Seriously, I’m tired of the proliferation of hummus. It’s gotten to the point where if I see something about a vampire in a story, I gnash my teeth, because I KNOW that the vampire is going to be the standard post-Interview With the Vampire, Underworld and Whedonverse vamp: handsome/beautiful, sexy, stylish, marble-pale (and often as hard as marble all over as well), rich, angsty/tormented by his DARK and DESTRUCTIVE nature, the enemy of all lycanthropes, able to fly and do Matrix-like acrobatics, possessed of a hypnotic charm over women and men (which I think of as “magical Rohypnol”) and, most likely, subsisting strictly on animal blood while being immune to sunlight.

    I have not been wrong about this checklist yet.

    I don’t mind vampire stories. I mind that people keep telling the same story about the same damned vampire. I’d prefer variety to stereotype and stock characters, whether in the sub-genre of paranormal romance or in mainstream literature.

    Life–and lit–should be a true banquet. Not a banquet of hummus.

  3. (Jān)
    May 22, 2008 @ 06:37:07

    The only vampires I read any more are Yarbro’s and those of her ilk, ie the ones who don’t use Interview with the Vampire and/or Feehan’s sorts as the basis for their models.

    Seriously though, while we all hate the repetitive nature of paranormals that are available, can anyone suggest new directions?

    I’d love to see just some decent fantasy romances that don’t depend on a character “type”. There are actually very few of them in genre romance.

  4. Sherry Thomas
    May 22, 2008 @ 07:45:05

    The Chinese say, “Thirty years east of river, thirty years west of river.”

    I’ve been doing some research for a piece I’m writing for the RWR (RWA’s newsletter) and in one article from 13 years back someone stated that the hottest romances are westerns and medievals. How about that?

    The truth is the proliferation of vampires has not been around that long a time. And perhaps the angst is feeding into all the emo-ness of our era.

    I do think there will be an eventual shakeout, as there is for any kind of overproliferation. But it wouldn’t be soon–the books are still selling like hotcakes. And prolly it wouldn’t be like what happened with chick lit–i.e., sudden death–but more of a gradual culling so that only the stronger ones remain after a while.

  5. Janie Harrison
    May 22, 2008 @ 08:13:14

    I’d like some plain vampires! Or some that are grounded in myth rather than a *throw in the whole kitchen sink* kind. Shapeshifters are ALL over and over the top. And psychics! Please, no more heroes and heroines thinking and thinking, hearing voices, reading minds, turning into demons, blah, blah, blah. Great post.

  6. Noelle (NHS)
    May 22, 2008 @ 10:11:51

    I have moved on as a writer. And it was hard because I spent a great amount of time in developing a mythology. But that world is sitting on a self waiting for it’s time to come again.
    I have moved on as a reader too. Well more back than on, I’ve gone back to reading and writing historials which is what I did before the Buffy and post Buffy years

  7. Jill Myles
    May 22, 2008 @ 10:17:55

    But you just can't get away from it at the moment-trying to find a basic, no-paranormal-elements romantic suspense is really hard.

    Really? Jeez – I went to my grocery store the other day and was frustrated that there was an entire section of romantic suspense/thriller stuff and not much of anything else. It doesn’t seem like it’s slacking to me. :)

  8. Jeaniene Frost
    May 23, 2008 @ 07:07:09

    I understand that some people are tired of creature X or creature Y, and that’s fine. Personal preferences are never wrong. But not every writer who writes vampires, for example, does it because they’re chasing a market trend, or trying to jump on the Fang Bandwagon. Some of us just love vampires, so we’re choosing to write about the creature we love. I’ve been a vamp fan since I was a child and didn’t even know what the term “market trend” meant.

    Tracy said, “I KNOW that the vampire is going to be the standard post-Interview With the Vampire, Underworld and Whedonverse vamp: handsome/beautiful, sexy, stylish, marble-pale (and often as hard as marble all over as well), rich, angsty/tormented by his DARK and DESTRUCTIVE nature, the enemy of all lycanthropes, able to fly and do Matrix-like acrobatics, possessed of a hypnotic charm over women and men (which I think of as “magical Rohypnol”) and, most likely, subsisting strictly on animal blood while being immune to sunlight.

    I have not been wrong about this checklist yet.”

    Read Ilona Andrews. You’ll find you’re wrong on EVERY item in your check list.

    P.S. Saying that *all* vampire novels have the exact same type of vampire in them smacks of similar generalized comments I’ve heard people say about the romance genre. Yes, I’m a vampire writer, and for the record, my novels don’t match every item on your checklist, either. Neither do JR Ward’s vampires or Mary Janice Davidson’s vampires, just off the top of my head. There might be a lot of similar vampire novels, but making sweeping generalizations about an entire subgenre should be avoided, IMO.

  9. Janie Harrison
    May 23, 2008 @ 09:01:11

    But not every writer who writes vampires, for example, does it because they're chasing a market trend, or trying to jump on the Fang Bandwagon. Some of us just love vampires, so we're choosing to write about the creature we love. I've been a vamp fan since I was a child and didn't even know what the term “market trend” meant.

    I agree. This is the sad part. Sometimes gems get lost in dust heaps. I’m a big vampire fan and collect a lot of vampire fiction, but try to write one when the trend is gone, gone, gone. Been there, done that. Despite the current *trends* I feel vampires will always be popular with people.

  10. Angelia Sparrow
    May 23, 2008 @ 09:02:13

    I just finished edits on a vampire short story that’s more about predation than angst. I hesitated to make the character a vamp, especially one that’s an open diabolist dedicated to Asmodeus, but decided it served the story.

    There is a proliferation of Vamp romances, and I am tired of the “Oh look at me, I’m so broody” routine. It’ll die down. In five years, there will still be a few, but it won’t be the current swarm.

    Ditto shapeshifters.

    In a year or three, the next Big Thing will be here, and we’ll all be bewailing the proliferation of interracial historical romances or Space Opera.

  11. Noelle (NHS)
    May 23, 2008 @ 09:09:13

    In a year or three, the next Big Thing will be here, and we’ll all be bewailing the proliferation of interracial historical romances

    Oh how I do hope so since that’s what I’m finishing edits on!

  12. Shiloh Walker
    May 23, 2008 @ 12:24:32

    I think the thing with trends is that even when the trend dies down, there are going to be those who love that particular genre. Like historicals. For a while, historicals were ‘off’ the trend map, but there are those die-hard historical lovers that continue to look for them.

    Same goes with paranormal-yes, paranormal is huge right now, although I think the trend is leveling, or already has. But just because it’s leveling doesn’t mean these books won’t continue to sell. The next big trend will hit but vamps will still sell to the die-hard vamp/paranormal lover.

    In a few years, they’ll be the ‘big’ thing again.

    Trends are a cyclical thing. They always come back.

  13. (Jān)
    May 23, 2008 @ 14:59:05

    Trends are a cyclical thing. They always come back.

    I’m still waiting by the phone for Gothic Romances to call again. ;D

  14. Are Vampires Dead or Just Mainstream? « Harlequin’s Paranormal Romance Blog
    May 26, 2008 @ 10:09:02

    […] From Smart Bitches and Dear Author, another salvo in the debate about whether the paranormal romance reading community is ready to move on from reading about vampires.  This time, a different take in that vampires are not “over”, just moved into the mainstream. […]

  15. Shiloh Walker
    May 26, 2008 @ 16:02:16

    I'm still waiting by the phone for Gothic Romances to call again. ;D

    Oh, man…. you and me both. I read some of the best Gothic Romances but now I can’t find them very easily.

  16. Percy A Ashe
    May 26, 2008 @ 22:14:15

    I love the Gothic genre and wish it would come back. :)It’s hard to find a good gothic nowadays, but author Devon Quinn does a fantastic gothic with her “Eternity” series.

  17. Peter Allchin
    Jun 15, 2008 @ 05:55:42

    I have to agree with Jeaniene Frost. I am also an author. However, I am not here to publicise my work, but to say that there are vampire novels out there, like my own, that buck to trend, as defined by Tracy. I do feel that there is too much sex, romance and handsome vampires in many of the vampire books, but if that is what the reader wants, then fine. I prefer to write about something other than that; no shapeshifters, no ‘magical’ weapons, and certainly no vampire any woman would want to have sex with!

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