Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Not Me, It's You (Or, My Breakup With Vampires)

Something that always surprises me when I'm reading a perfectly decent query is when a vampire shows up and ruins everything. The havoc the vampire wreaks on the characters is nothing compared to the damage it does to me personally. I read about four vampire queries in a row yesterday, which is what got me thinking about this, but truthfully I've been thinking about my relationship with vampires for a while. They once held a pretty special place in my heart. 

It was a sad day for me the first time I rolled my eyes at a vampire book, and an even sadder one when I audibly groaned in frustration. You see, writers, I was once, as they say, really into vampires. Which is also to say, I totally get their appeal. The reason vampires have stood the test of time, other than immortality, is that they can be the perfect hero and the perfect villain at the same time. On their worst days, they want to kill you, and on their best days, they still want to kill you, but feel bad about it.

They are also eternally sexy. Let's put aside the metaphors involved with them wanting to control you and suck you dry. Instead, let's focus on the fact that they never look older than 30, they're mysterious, and for some reason they all seem to have mastered the art of dry wit. Sure they're dangerous, but what's hotter than knowing that after being around the block for centuries upon centuries, they still want only you. Even Dracula had a soft spot for Mina, and he's Dracula!

Before I really knew what sexy was, I fell in love with vampires through Christopher Pike books that were probably too old for me, and through cheesy '80s movies like Once Bitten and My Best Friend is a Vampire (both amazing by the way - add them to your Netflix queue now!). I also let my angsty self out in reading The Book of Nod (also too old for me) and being mildly fascinated by goth culture and vampire lore. 

Then Buffy, the Vampire Slayer came along. I was a fan of the movie because it is hilarious and Luke Perry is in it. The show, however, is one of the best written shows of all time. It hooked me immediately and I still watch it pretty much everyday in syndication. Seeing the show was also the first time I said, hey, vampires are sexy as hell (no pun intended).

There was definitely teen vampire lit to be read, and I enjoyed the less sexy - but still sexy in a "I might have issues" way - vampire horror. In adulthood, even in the midst of vampire mania, I enjoy the modernized vampires of Charlaine Harris and Jeri Smith-Ready and the villainous vamps of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's Strain trilogy (also looking forward to reading Justin Cronin's The Passage!). 

That said, the reason those queries I mentioned were surprising to me is because I can't believe people are still trying to pitch vampire books. Despite everything, aren't we sick of them yet? The answer from the industry standpoint should be yes, but I guess what should be more surprising is that these books are still being sold. To me, vampires have jumped the shark. I don't really blame Twilight, but it's an easy scapegoat. Twilight didn't start anything that wasn't already there. Edward, after all, is just a poor man's Angel. All Stephanie Meyers really did was reaffirm that nothing is the new vampire, nor will something ever be. But she also reawakened a craze that proved perhaps there can be too much of a good thing.

So, vampires, you've shown me, with the above-mentioned modern examples, that you still have what it takes to be in my life. But unfortunately, that's not enough for me anymore. You've changed. I liked that you were starting to show a softer side; I was even excited about it. Then things got out of control. You were showing up in places you didn't belong: classic literature, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and prime-time network television. You're everywhere and you're becoming a mockery of yourselves. We can still be friends, of course. I just need space. I'm in a place in my life right now where I need more stability. I need to know you'll always be the person I fell in love with, and I hope once you get this madness out of your system, you'll be able to find that side of you again. It just won't be any time soon, I'm afraid, so I must say goodbye for now. 


We'll always have Nod...

29 comments:

  1. Exactly. As someone who owns every season of Buffy And Angel, I love vampires, but I'm so incredibly sick of them I haven't been able to read a vamp book in a while. Which is sad, because I really want to read The Strain. I just can't. :(

    Thanks for saying what I've been trying to explain to my friends for months now.

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  2. I confess -- I look forward to the day when I can once again enter a bookstore without garlic around my neck and a wooden stake in my purse. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  3. I know this is "bad," but I'm reading only my second vampire book. Twilight turned me off to the genre, and I didn't pick up another vamp book until Soulless by Gail Carriger, which I am really enjoying.

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  4. I've never liked vampires. I don't HATE them, they're just neutral in their appeal. I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer (okay, loved), but it had nothing to do with the vampires.

    That said, I'm really excited to see vampires falling out of style. I think readers have had stars in their eyes for too long and have ignored bad writing (read: Twilight) in favor of a plot element. Really, plot elements are such a small part of the whole.

    I just hope this change in trend encourages better plotting and characterization.

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  5. Connie -- Apparently "Sunshine" is a great vampire book too. Anyone here read it? My friend keeps recommending it to me.

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  6. That was a fascinating view of vampire literature! I haven’t read many vampire novels, but definitely prefer those in which the vampire is a symbol and the legend speaks to something deeper. I love Anne Rice’s vampire novels because she seems to describe ways in which vampires might actually live if they were alive and because her novels bring out the mysterious, mystical side of New Orleans. I thoroughly enjoyed reading THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova because the vampires seemed real and the historical details were fascinating. I don’t care for the TWILIGHT books. I decided to read the entire series because it’s so popular, but I've had to take long breaks between each book in the series. I prefer vampire novels that have a mystical element to them. I’m currently reading ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni – about angels, obviously, and the mystical atmosphere of the novel is fantastic.

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  7. Love Charlaine Harris. Sexy Eric, anyone? Buffy and Angel hooked me beyond belief; my weeks were spent waiting for the next episode.

    I’m not a Twilight basher, those books sucked me right in, apart from the last one (I’ll never get over the name Renessme, or Jacob imprinting – YUCK!), but for right now, with the exception of Eric, I’m so over reading about vampires.

    I want to walk into a bookshop and see something other than dark, angsty covers. Last week I saw a repackaged Pride and Prejudice with a black cover and a blood red rose. *rolls eyes*

    True Blood is back on TV this weekend and I, for one, can’t wait.

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  8. I'm still brainstorming what will be the next "vampire": zombies? angels? who knows?

    I loved Christopher Pike!!! (One of my guilty pleasures as a teen) I think we grew up around the same time, because everything you mentioned was like a trip down memory lane for me.

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  9. Oh, I was finished after Ann Rice's fourth vamp novel. You can only take so much.

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  10. I hate to be the outsider here, but I love any and all vampire novels (well, except poorly written ones). They're like horror movies - I go in knowing they won't be literary masterpieces. They're read for entertainment only!

    And also, does this mean aspiring authors out there should call it quits if the story they're dying to write - you know, the one nagging at you in the middle of the night - is about vampires?

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  11. @Jamie - No writer should call it quits! As sick of vamps as I am, I am clearly still reading a select few. They are still being bought and they are still successful, even though everybody complains about it.

    Still, I think it's safe to say I personally do not want a vampire query for a very long time.

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  12. I totally agree with everything said. I'm hoping Angels will be the next big thing ;)

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  13. Thanks, Sarah! I say to people anytime I hear them groan at the thought of another vampire story...look at "Daybreakers"...a cool twist on a saturated genre. That's the innovativeness we all look for!

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  14. I still FEEL like I love vampires, but it's very rare that I pick up a "new" vampire book outside of my favourite series' these days - why? Because I'm sick of the same ol' same ol' in vampire fiction. Do they all need to be so similar? Maybe I need a good horror vampire story to snap me out of it.

    word verification: belly (is it trying to tell me something?)

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  15. But then there's this... http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Vampire-Never-Coming-Story/dp/0061920908/ref=cm_lmf_tit_39_russss1 Fat Vampire.

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  16. Thanks for the shout-out, Sarah! I'm flattered (or is that spelled "flabbergasted"?) to make the short list, especially sandwiched between Charlaine Harris and Guillermo Del Toro.

    For me, vamps are like any other story element: I love them when I love them and I don't when I don't. But then again, I'm not deluged with them every day like you are. So I can understand your ennui! :)

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  17. Well, there goes that query idea. How do you feel about zombies? *laughs*

    I get what you mean, though. There are tons of vampire books out there, and it is hard to wade through all of them and find the gems amongst the bunch.

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  18. That makes sense Sarah why I got rejected I have a tough path ahead of me I love vampire novels and I cant pitch in this comment why my series will be different all I can say is that I want to see more diversity in writing especially Young Adult /Paranormal Romance. Sorry to hear about your break up at least your still good friends.=D

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  19. I'm curious if you see any variation in your vampire queries? Do they all follow the Twilight/Fallen plot-line of normal girl who meets dark, mysterious guy etc?

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  20. "Edward, after all, is just a poor man's Angel."

    Quoted for truth.

    Fun post!

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  21. LOVE vampire mythology. Dracula had me at hello. It's a little overdone now, for sure, which is a shame since it's such an interesting literary history! Sigh...

    *flashbacks to gothic horror lit in college...*

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  22. @Jaimie RE Sunshine: One of my favorite vamp books! Definitely different. It has a post-apocalyptic twist, and there's a lot of muffin-baking.

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  23. Thanks, AJ. I really do need to check it out...

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  24. @Jaimie & AJ - Um, muffin baking? I hope that's not a metaphor because now I NEED TO read Sunshine!

    @Jade - There is variation in the queries. They're not all mopey-chick-meets-mysterious-guy, but even the ones that are different aren't enough to get me interested. Which I admit is sad. But like I said, vampires and I just need to take a break.

    @Jeri - You're welcome! And you definitely deserve to be among Harris and Del Toro :)

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  25. I have to agree. A girl can only handle so many new vampire loves before she gets the blood sucked out of her. Er. Um. I mean enthusiasm. Yeah. That.

    Fortunately, the trend must die off sometime, and I hope that time is nearly upon us. I've recently been introduced to some time travelers, some faeries, and a handful of distopian worlds where young kids have to overcome insurmountable odds.

    Lucky for me, there will always be something fantastic to read. Thanks for the laugh!

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  26. RE Sunshine: *Actual* muffin-baking. There are also non-metaphorical cherry tarts.

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  27. Hehe, great way to let writers know not to send you vampire novels! I'm pretty sick of vampires right now, and I used to love them. This was fun to read, and I'm glad to know that not all the agents out there repping YA are looking for vampire stuff.

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  28. I couldn't agree more. I'm a total Whedonite, to the level that my Buffy love has been passed down to my two youngest daughters. (There's nothing like seeing your seven year old sing every line and dance every move to 'Once More With Feeling'). But, as much as I love vampires, I don't think I can stomach yet another.

    I finished my first novel two years ago, complete with edits and et all. Then, the vampire boom happened and it's languished on my laptop, untouched since. (Though I have written a few outtakes for my friends).

    The problem, for me, is that they aren't scary anymore. And since the market is so inundated with them, they have lost their appeal for many people.

    I miss the days of Buffy. Heck, I miss 'Dark Shadows' on Sunday afternoons as a kid. I hope one day we'll be able to see a truly new twist that doesn't include a dark immortal stranger, a 'special' average girl and their fights against the biggest bad of them all. Sorry, folks, but Whedon did it best and I can't imagine anyone topping that.

    Now, that Eric Northman? Ha, nothing would stop me from watching or reading about him.

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  29. Dammit! Hmm... What if you're writing a novel featuring vampires but the focus isn't on how they're oh-so-cool-and-sexy? (Basically, my hook isn't "Read mah book cuz it haz VAMPIRES in it!!!")

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