Bookseller lunches consist of myself and my bookseller friends usually taking over a large table in a cafe with no prior booking because we’re unorganised and proceeding to blather on for hours. They are always a lot of fun, and usually divided into small camps. Some of the girls sell romance, some sell a bit of everything, I’m the only one who reads kids books, Dave is the only comic book collector.
I watch one camp trying to recruit others to read their preferred genre, which is always outrageously amusing, while the other camp scoffs. I’ll sometimes tell the scoffers off for being snobs. After all, I read about magic, wizards and talking mice with legendary swords. Who am I to point fingers?
Now I have read a few romance books, only the paranormal sort, initially at the insistence of my best friend Edie (at girrlitsbooks who was telling me off for having a romance book website and never having read a romance book and no Jane Austen does not count, although I think classics count, but anyway…) I enjoyed the ones I have read, much to the horror of my fantasy reading peers. Edie, of course, recommends many books to me. She even dared me to read ‘Steamed‘. She did, no matter how much she denies it. The wee tyrant.
There is one thing you simply cannot convince me to read, and I have been talked into reading many things. And that is a vampire romance. Am I being a genre snob?
It’s not just my general avoidance of all things current and popular. I think I must be a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to vampires. They’re interesting, but you know, they suck your blood. Vampire to me has always meant Dracula. But times change. Now vampires are apparently attractive.
Now I understand vampire romances are an established genre in romance books. Fantasy books need dragons and wizards and paranormal romance needs vampires. And if an author has established their world well, then you can have vegetarian vampires, vampires who feed from blood banks etc. Vampires from Atlantis (I admit I enjoy that theory although I can’t remember which romance author does it) It’s all feasible.
The whole young adult genre, however, is going a bit far. I draw the line at sparkly. I suppose I don’t remember what it’s like to be a teenager and latch onto a current trend and I might be old and cranky, but there you have it.
I have on occasion wondered if I’d be into this new vampire genre if I was a teen now. I doubt that I would be recalling the books I actually read as a teen, which were mostly not young adult books, but I did Twilight last year to see how terrible it was (inspired by the very funny Twilight Sucks website and having found a copy in an op-shop) It was sheer torture, and much howling with laughter. It is truly terrible. I gave it to my (other) best friend Mel, who took weeks to confess that she liked it, and only under duress. I admit I ribbed her a bit.
I’m at my favourite local bookshop last week. There is a whole wall jammed with young adult vampire-esque books. There’s some non-romance ones about vampires too. Vampires everywhere. They’ve even snuck onto the adult paranormal romance shelf. And the adult authors are doing YA books too.
Then I notice a V.C Andrews is trade paperback, which is unusual as they’re usually done in hardcover or mass market, and look at the blurb. Lo and behold, there’s a bloody vampire. It’s not a vampire romance, granted. The teenage heroine’s Dad is a vampire and wants to feed on her new boyfriend. Really.
They’ve re-done the Christopher Pike books to resemble girly teen books, even though they were written as young adult horror and there’s probably not a handsome vampire anywhere. Then there’s the re-makes of classics, there’s some copies of Little Vampire Women a few shelves down, and Craig just mentioned “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to me. At the front of the shop, there’s a stack of Jane Austens, Emily Brontes etc with new modern covers. Black covers, with red and white writing and illustrations, straight out of the young adult paranormal romance box. I could probably try for a better word but the first one that comes to mind is “ugh”.
I sift disconsolately through the shelves teeming with black covers adorned with pasty looking teens, hoping to discover a young adult fantasy, or even a children’s fantasy I haven’t read, only to find vampire upon vampire.
There’s been much debate about how long this genre is going to last, it’s popularity spawned by that awful Twilight series. But if Twilight can sell millions of copies, and there are probably (definitely) a lot better authors and books out there, then it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
I’ll stick to my guns. There’s always a glimmer of hope and a book with a dragon or two.