I just took a little look-see around Twitter, looking for accounts to follow and network, and I noticed a bit of a trend. It appears readers are tired of Vampire/Werewolf fiction. As an author chewing my fingernails, eagerly awaiting my own release date for Covenant, there’s a tiny part of me that says, “uh-oh.” But there’s a much larger part of me that understands.
It’s pretty typical for there to be an oversaturated market when something, or someone, turns out to be a gravy train of financial success. Andy Warhol pointed out this very thing in his Marilyn Monroe paintings. Once Miss Monroe became a household name, Hollywood churned out the lookalikes on an assembly line. Mass production, a.k.a. cashing in on a trend, makes us all wary after so long.
But let’s look at the Vampire genre before we roll our eyes at yet another book release. Is it the Vampire genre that’s wearing people out, or is it the same type of Vampire story that’s so offensive? What if the Vampire wasn’t immortal, didn’t wear frilly clothes, didn’t avoid sunlight because she/he would turn into a roasted marshmallow? What if the Vampire was a mortal, a metaphor for something else?
Yes, there is an ulterior motive to my question, because my series, from my perception as the author, isn’t about Vampires and Werewolves and Witches and Slayers and Humans. It’s about bullying, something very real and very current. The Werewolf only transforms at the full moon, and does so in secrecy, so no one else is aware of their Werewolf nature. Just as a bully only bullies those they know won’t fight back and, to those who could stop them, they’re “just a nice boy/girl who would never hurt anyone.”
But let’s not make this all about my work (Covenant, Book One of the Covenant Series, to be published by Mystic Press Spring 2012). The horror genre, or, at least, what usually is most successful creatively and, yes, financially, is metaphor. Watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV series) sometime. Every episode was a metaphor for some life experience, whether it be about the swim team who turned into fish after getting performance-enhancing drugs in their sauna (steroids), a girl who turns invisible because she’s been ignored (loneliness of being left out), or when your boyfriend gets him some and turns into a bad Vampire (a guy turning out to really be a bad guy who was only being nice to get in a girl’s pants), it’s not what they say, but the statement, that’s the driving plot line. And that, in my opinion, is a big reason why the show was so popular and continues to have such a loyal following.
Yes, there’s some sucky horror out there by people cashing in on the genre’s success. But, to readers, I ask is it the genre you’re tired of, or not-so-great storytelling? To writers, I ask are you cashing in or are you making a bigger point through metaphor?
The sooner we can all sort out the difference, the better writers, and more entertained readers, we’ll all be.