Vampire's Defanged and the change of reading habits.

Monday, November 30, 2009 3 Comments A+ a-

I'm not sure what happened during the course of the year but I think my reading habits have changed. I used to love to pick up a pile of books and dive into them one after the other. Especially after I had been looking forward to them all year after hearing a blurb either through Publisher's Lunch, Goodreads or on some message board. But somewhere along the lines, I lost that interest. Now I'm finding that many of my faves in the paranormal genre are starting to read the same. This is especially with the new books and authors coming out. Nothing is reading with a unique voice or with an interesting spin. It's almost as if the same blurb and story is used one story after another with only the main settings and character names changed.

I dove into smaller presses for this reason but even there I'm seeing a trend where the market is glutted with the same type of books. It's one reason why I went back to the tried and true classics (hello Ray Bradbury! Where have you been all my life?) and also why I started reading some books in my TBR pile. I actually went as far to make a promise to myself that I wouldn't by anymore books until I started culling that list down to something reasonable. Not sure if it'll hold up but I figure I'd give it a go. Maybe my reading tastes are changing and I need something more than what I've been reading. Maybe the market has been glutted with too many look-a-like books to sustain the bottom line. Either way, I figured a change of genre may help a bit with that.

I'm hoping my writing doesn't fall into the same groove as well. One reason I love to write so many different genres is because the character's stories call for different settings and situations. Another reason is that I love to switch up my writing to keep myself on my toes. I think challenging myself to different stories with various challenges will hopefully make me a better writer. Perhaps the same could be said about changing up my reading material. We shall see.

Another thing I noticed recently is how vampires have been turned into hot bad boys. I was one of the folks who was glad to see a surge in paranormal books and tv shows in the media. I didn't mind that vampires had a sense of darkness around them that made them dangerously seductive. But now it's getting a little out of hand.

A recent interview with Catherine Hardwicke and the stars of that little young adult vampire romance series (you all know the one ;-) ) has gone on record saying the series was different because it humanized vampires. Wha huh? No no no. Vampires were always interesting because they were "the other". At least it was to me when I started reading them. Sometimes they had their own community as in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles or they were solitary predators like in Bram Stoker's Dracula. But they always represented the dark side of human nature. Whether it was about death, immortality, sex, blood or what have you, vampire lore lived across the centuries and cultures to represent that which we feared in our own lives. To make them human or just pale, pretty looking CW models with a bad attitude seems to lose the point entirely.

Now this could just be a trend. Like all things, this is just a cycle and soon we'll be back to vampires being gruesome, yet seductive monsters. True I even indulged in the vampire romance bit with my series (and my vampires will tread the line between killing machines and Romeos--oh yes, there will be blood) but I wanted to keep the inhuman side because of how long my creatures have lived and what they have experienced in warfare.

Ah well, perhaps switching it up will solve the issue. I have a few books sitting on my immediate shelf that keep getting moved over and tossed off. Two young adult, one historical and the other fantasy, a newish author to me who is writing a European fae centered urban fantasy series (where are the other non-Euro cultural fae stories???), a recently released fantasy romance anthology and of course a few ebooks on my phone that I need to clear off.

Then it's back to catching up on some classics.

If anyone else is having the same trouble as me with their current reading lull, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to share any recs while you're here. :-)

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Sandra Sookoo
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5:41 PM delete

Hey Rae. Yes, I'm experiencing a reading lull. Currently, I've got 17 books sitting on my bedside table and no will or desire to read them. They're all the same, you're right.

I only hope that my writing isn't as stale and flat as all that either. I try for originality but who knows if it's achieved.

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5:50 PM delete

Interesting post. I agree with most of it. :) The "hot bad boys" I first noticed in "The Lost Boys"... which I just recently decided to add back into my video collection (used to have it on VHS, but decided to get it and the recent sequel on DVD), but I'm 100% on board with your take on "pretty vampires". Vampires are evil, bloodsucking, sexy creatures of the night... not glittery or really sympathetically morose (except for Angel from Buffy of course, but there's always at least one exception to every rule, eh?) but to me the perfect vampire is the one you fear and cheer at the same time. :) Jerry Dandrige from the movie "Fright Night" is probably my perfect example of that.

On the other hand, one of my favorite sayings is that the single CONSTANT in the universe is CHANGE. Maybe we're looking at the age of the 'Remodeled Vampire'. I hope not, I'd hate to say goodbye to the traditional characterizations of my favorite creature of the night.

As for books, yeah, I encountered that during the 80's and 90's when doing the mass "Star Trek" read of every book that came out. While I must have read over a hundred of them, less than 10 stick out in my mind. Eventually I stopped buying and reading them until the 2 Khan books came out (The Eugenics Wars).
Unfortunately I can say my reading has dwindled to the point of being described as scarce. Few books being published, even from my favorite authors such as King or Koontz, have garnished my interest significantly. Could be it's ME who's changed, who knows. :)

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Rae Lori
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8:24 AM delete

Hey Sandi!

Yeah I hear that. Eek. Good to know I'm not the only one but a bummer that others are feeling the sameness. :-/

I think you're nailing the differences in your stories because you have a nice variety and all are stamped with your own brand of you. :-)

Hey Mike!

That's so true. I completely forgot about The Lost Boys but I think you might be right. The metaphor for bad boys was completely blatant in that movie. I hope we're not looking at the age of the Remodeled Vampire either. The lore always held a sense of dramatic fear and foreboding but to strip that, the history and the edge away just makes it pretty disheartening.

I wonder if Pocket Book had a trend surge where they just bought almost every Trek book because they felt it would sell. No matter it was particularly good, just sale-able. I think that's what's happening now with the paranormals. The good news is all trends die out and maybe it's time to let this one die a little. Maybe we'll see some new unique voices rise in its place.

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