Friday, July 11, 2014

Vampires? Again?

An editor once told me one of things they worried about at every writing conference was underestimating the abilities of someone who really didn't look like their notion of a writer. Someone with a bad perm, wearing old sneakers, stained polyester pants and an old T-shirt. This happened to her once. And she never forgot it.

Because the lady turned out to be one of the most successful romance writers ever. By dissing her the editor lost a lot of credibility with her publishers.

That comment has stayed with me because writer's conference are by nature--well, exhausting. They just are. I can just imagine an editor spending an entire afternoon listening to pitches and having someone show up announcing they have written a book about vampires. Does that sound promising? Probably not. It's been done for goodness sake.

I just read a fascinating novel, The Quick, that is another unique book involving vampires. One of my favorite books was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Our own Type M'er, Mario Acevedo, has a vampire series. A student of mine at Fort Hays, Morgan Chalfant, wrote a vampire western, Youngbloods. Steven King's Salem's Lot  isn't at all like Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles.

So what is it about vampires that inspires writers to come up with books so different from one another? What is there in the human psyche that connects to such a bizarre creature. I'm not only speaking of writers, but the readers who devour them. No pun intended. I really am not enthusiastic about vampire books, nor am I inclined to believe a word. And yet, and yet. When I first read Salem's Lot wore a crucifix around my neck for days. I wore it when I slept too.

The Historian is a terrific book. That's when I began to doubt my disbelief.

I searched for vampires in Amazon before I started this post. Some of the covers were a little too interesting. You want blood? There's blood aplenty. There were over 100 pages of Vampire titles. That has to be a category record.

If you are starting out in this business, don't ever let someone tell you that your book won't be published because another writer has already written a book on the same subject.


Eileen Goudge said...

Great post, Charlotte! And so true. Judge a book by the cover but not the author by his or her appearance. I learned this when I was married to my agent. I saw all kinds. Young, old, fat, thin, bad hair, bad teeth. None of it matters if you have talent. As for SALEM'S LOT, I couldn't take the trash out after dark for weeks after reading it!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Eileen, Salem's Lot scared me, but The Historian went way beyond that. It was too too real

Donis Casey said...

I've often wondered what the deal is with the popularity of vampires--and zombies. Something that speaks to deep, inbred fears that we all have? the monster within? The monster without?

Eileen Goudge said...

One to read on summer vacation when the sun is shining. I'll check it out!

Charlotte Hinger said...

I cannot tolerate Zombies. I just can't. Everyone in my family watches Walking Dead, but I refuse.

As to the Historian--it's one of the novel I plan to reread.I couldn't even tell it the notes were real. She begins by saying "The story that follows is one that I never intended to commit to paper."

Eileen Goudge said...

I remembered belatedly I had read THE HISTORIAN, years ago. Very scary, I agree. I picked up a copy at a library sale. It was slightly water-damaged, which only lent to the spookiness.