Friday, July 9, 2010

Enter the Vampire

     After a lot of changes to my manuscript, changes made because I have been told time and again that vampire fiction is a bad place to start, I started thinking a lot about vampires in general. Will vampires ever really be out of style? Will the demand die? Not likely.
     Vampires have been a source of wonder, drama, horror, and romance for as long as I can remember - even longer for those who are older than I am. I started writing about vampires when I was in highschool, many years ago. I was inspired by such writers as Anne Rice (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, VAMPIRE LESTAT, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED - the list could go on), Poppy Z Brite (LOST SOULS), Mercedes Lackey (CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT), and L.J. Smith (VAMPIRE DIARIES and NIGHT WORLD). Their worlds were something I could fall into without getting lost. Their characters were friends and lovers, without having to surrender myself to anyone. Their writing was enveloping without being overpowering. There were so many more that fell into that category - all vampires.
     Come back to today, an age wrapped in TWILIGHT and HARRY POTTER. If you are new to the writing world, attempting to sell a book you hold great pride in, you are lucky if it doesn't have vampires or witches in it; otherwise, you may risk being lumped in with all those who are also making their TWILIGHT-fan book because they are so caught up in the hype. You could have an amazing story, but the moment an agent or publisher reads "vampires", they are likely to toss you into the garbage with all the others they have already done so to. Most will even tell you that it is no real reflection on your writing, as many may even say that your writing has great potential. The problem is the genre and the fact that it  is over saturated with vampire romance. Either that, or they already have someone writing the future-popular next TWILIGHT, and they certainly don't want you to be competition for their current clients - makes sense, but does not make it any easier to take.
     The common suggestion is to move away from vampires, or have something so unbelievably original that it can't be passed up. Yet, I go to the bookstore, and see another vampire-based story, hot off the presses. I check out the agent pages, and they are gushing over a new vampire-based story they've sold to a publisher. I see another vampire show on tv or in the movies. These aren't insanely new and original ideas; instead, they are the same thing as all the rest. Does this make people like them any less? No. Does this make people buy less of the books, watch less of the shows, or dream up less of their own vampire fantasies? No.
     Vampires have been a part of our lives for so long that most don't even remember their first vampire experience. We just know that the world is exciting, and something mysterious that we'd like to experience - again and again. The genre, regardless of which age-range or media-type you are looking at, is thriving; and the book stores promotional tables prove it to a point. VAMPIRE DIARIES was made into a TV show, True Blood is a great hit among those who love vampires whether they know of it's original book-based origins or not, Blade was a hit for its time, and now we have the new show The Gates which is taking off to an interesting turn. If people didn't want to see these things, they wouldn't be created. TWILIGHT wouldn't be as popular a phenomenon as it is. People do want to read, see, and hear these stories of eternal life and love. People want to continue to write about them. So now I suppose people just have to wait until there is a lull in the vampire submissions, so that their visions can properly be heard.
     I am not saying that what I have read from agents is wrong. Again, I note that they probably don't want competition for their own clients. Likewise, publishers aren't going to want insane amounts of competition for the authors they already represent. If the publishers don't want to buy a book because it'd be competition, then an agent can't possibly be expected to be able to take yet another on knowing this. Some are so clogged up with vampire (and specifically paranormal romance vampire) submissions, that they feel like they are going to choke if they see another come through their door. This does cause problems for those who's life work was vampire related, but a good writer can persevere - either by coming up with an amazing extra hook, finding some way to change from vampires to something else, or just put that aside and come back to it later after writing something non-vampire related. It is to those, who have taken the time to say that vampires are going out of style, that I have a beef with. To those who feel that the vampire crazy will pass and be over with, I say that you are mistaken. Time and again, vampires have made their mark on the entertainment and literary worlds. This isn't something that will pass, never to be relived. This isn't just a phase that kids go through and get over. It is a longstanding concept that will continue to grow and build and expand: romantic vampires, evil vampires, troubled vampires, vampires who want to be human, humans who want to be vampires, vampires in space, sci-fi vampires, time traveling vampires, doctor vampires, cop vampires, vampire presidents - the list could go on. To those who are following the TWILIGHT-train, only reading because it is something cool to do, well at least you are reading. To the rest of us, who like the stories for what they are, and always will, I am certain that vampires will never go out of style. Vampires will never die.

~Jennifer Alyx

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