Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem Monday

Not that this is news, but today's post will probably be a bit eclectic...mainly because I am still exhausted and also because Blogger is acting up a bit for some reason! Anyway, today's topic of discussion: vampire fiction.

Why?
1. Novels about vampires and paranormal creatures usually address a combination of (or all three) today's key words.
2. I am taking on the role of contributing reviewer to MyVampFiction.com. SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!! I have admired their site for some time, so I was so happy when they offered me the chance to join their staff as a book review contributor. What better excuse to read?

In any case, I tried to think about the vampire books I have read over the years (and there have been many)...wondering what it is about vampires that draws so many people. There are plenty of critical discussions about all of this, but I don't feel like going into them. :)

My first exposure to vampires came through my mom. She loves scary movies and especially Christopher Lee's old films...and Dark Shadows...and all of that other stuff! So, I remember watching those as a kid. But the first time I really became interested in vampires as subjects for reading material was when I came across Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

I had never heard of Rice until I was in the eleventh grade and this fabulous earthy girl next to me in computer class (who also ran an underground magazine at our school and almost got expelled) introduced me to the series. She was super smart and told me all about it and what I could expect, etc. I didn't actually read the books that year, but I carried that conversation with me and remained intrigued.


Some time later, the movie version came out and I was completely spellbound. The film is lush and gorgeous...and, yes, violent and disturbing. But that is what I liked about it. The vampires were so complicated and brought up so many questions about life and religion and relationships. And, to this day, watching Dunst play Claudia just breaks my heart. I don't know if she really knew what she was doing, but every meaningful aspect of Claudia's existence came out in her portrayal of that character. Her's is still one of the most tragic characters in fiction, in my opinion.

Well, after seeing that movie, I became interested in Rice on a whole new level. I started reading her books and listening to her interviews. (And she is still one of the most amazing people to listen to...wow...no one inspires me to write and create like she does). Even though I haven't read all of the vampire books in that series yet, I have to say that so far Pandora is my favorite.


(Source: http://booksareagarden.blogspot.com/2010/06/pandora-by-anne-rice-book-review.html)

In any case, from that point onward, I picked up books about vampires and worlds of the paranormal. I never got into Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of the slayer-type novels. Instead, I was really looking for studies of vampire characters, I guess.

And, of course, you would have to be dead, basically, if you didn't notice that vampires have kind of taken over the popular fiction and movie market. Yes. I am referring to Twilight. I have written about Meyer's series on here before...and, like I say, great literature it isn't. I have read all four books. And, though the relationship between Bella and Edward, in my opinion, is very creepy and unbalanced and unhealthy (for a great analysis of why, see: this site), I can see where people really got into the first book. But by the time I got to the fourth book, I couldn't take it. I really hated Breaking Dawn--for many reasons. So, I am not a huge fan, but I appreciate anything that gets kids reading.


Meyer's books have had a huge impact, like it or not, but the good news is that out of her novels have come some amazing books about vampires--and not just for the teen reader. (And, if you read this blog enough, you know that I love teen fiction.) Vampires have taken over the romance, sci-fi, and fantasy genres as well. Pretty much the entire romance section of a bookstore is now related to paranormal fiction. The sci-fi and fantasy section is the same. It is amazing how authors have manipulated such an old character to fit contemporary tastes.

I wrote about Bram Stoker's Dracula for an entire semester when I started the Master's program. In a class that taught research and writing methods, our teacher required that we choose a novel to work with over the course of the semester...so, I chose Dracula. Why? I had never read it, and I thought that it should provide me with more than enough material to write about...and it did. But the vampirism in that novel is both similar to and different from the vampires in today's works. Take the women, for example. They are sexually transgressive in a way that usually leads to their death. If you compare Mina or Lucy to contemporary figures...well, some things have changed and others haven't.

The women, in particular, in today's vampire and paranormal-centered fiction, are categorized in strange ways. Usually, what I have found is that it is very hard for an author to break free of extremes when they write about females associated with either being a vampire or being a slayer of vampires. In other words, they are over-the-top strong or they are complete victims. It is so weird to me. There hasn't been much of a balance in the past.

But I am starting to see that change. I like Nalini Singh's Archangel series because the heroine, at least in the first novel, was more believable. I am also currently reading (not to review on MyVampFiction, but just for fun) Jeannie Holmes's Blood Law.


(Source: Amazon)

So far, I really like this series...but I will give you my final verdict later. :)

Until then, if you like vampire or paranormal fiction, check out MyVampFiction.com. (My first review will be up in August, I think, and there are some great ones up there all the time.)

Comments

Amy said…
Great post! My books to read list always grows when I read your blog, and I love it. You do a great job. Congrats on the postition at MyVampFiction.com. I will absolutlely be checking it out.
Amy said…
I know I just commented, but I just wanted to let you know that I checked out the site concerning Edward Cullen's abusive behavior and found it fascinating and so true. Thanks for posting it.
Susie said…
Thanks, Amy! Yes, you should check out MyVampFiction.com. It is a great site (and they review a lot of different paranormal themed books, and some summer reads, too).

Yes, that site on Edward explains it all, doesn't it? I mean, I enjoyed the first book, but the second one really freaked me out (where he is in her head telling her what to do and all). So, I found this site and thought, "Yep. That makes sense!"

Anyway, thanks again for the comments!

Popular Posts