As I’m doing a bit of traveling, one of my great Twitter friends Candace (@cpblackburn73) offered to jump over to VBC to talk about where vampires fit today on the romance bookshelves. I think you all know where I stand. This is the Vampire Book Club, after all.
HAVE FANGS BEEN REPLACED?
By Candace Blackburn
I spend a considerable amount of time at book stores. As an aspiring writer, I could call it research to justify my habit when, in all actuality, books are my kryptonite. Paranormal romance is my favorite thing to read. The first grown-up novel I ever read was Salem’s Lot, which isn’t a romance by any stretch of the imagination. But at 13, the dye was cast and I became an addict of all things that go bump in the night.
The paranormal romance landscape has changed drastically since then. Where you used to simply have your choice of vampire or werewolf heroes, those choices have now expanded. Does your vampire go poof in the sun? Can he eat food or just gnaw on an artery? Can they biologically reproduce or turn more humans? The shifters – are they kitty, wolf, dragon or other? Panther, jaguar, lion, tiger (or bears, oh my) are big in the kitty set. Wolves are almost as varied. Are they full-moon shifters, any time of the month shifters, do they maintain rational thought during a shift and do they bite to change others?
The choices are limitless but one thing is clear: This isn’t the same genre it was even five years ago. The big names making a place for themselves on the shelves aren’t only blood drinkers. Ask any reader of Kresley Cole who the fans demand and I guarantee you will hear the name MacReive or a Woede. Anyone who can tell you where the nearest Harrowgate to Underworld General Hospital is will tell you that the demons rule that world. Mention Budapest to PNR fans and you’ll probably hear the names Strider, Maddox, William and Paris. And does the name Jericho Barrons mean anything to you? What about Reyes? Tiago? Dragos? The non-vamps have established themselves as sexual forces to be reckoned with, heroes to be respected and they are selling the books to back up those claims.
So the question is: Do vampires have a place on the PNR shelves anymore?
In a word, absolutely. More than two years ago, I pulled up my Amazon account and the first title to be recommended was Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. I read the description and wondered to myself just why would I want to read a book about a half vampire who kills other vampires? Vampires are not to be staked — thank you very much — so what was this Cat Crawfield girl thinking? I kid you not, 20 minutes into reading the book, I called the nearest Barnes and Noble and had them to hold everything they had by Jeaniene Frost. Two days later when I had devoured all four of the first Night Huntress books (Halfway, One Foot in the Grave, At Grave’s End and Destined for an Early Grave), I was aggravated that the next book wasn’t going to be out for another four months.
You want to know why vampires have staying power? Crispin Russell (a.k.a. Bones) is my first answer. Two hundred and fifty years old, badass to his core and one woman changed his entire existence – the aforementioned Cat. In This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress #5), Bones worked with the sexiest vampire in literary history, Vlad Tepesh, to ruthlessly question a ghoul after an attack on Cat’s life. Bones ripped limbs from the ghoul and beat him with them while Vlad creatively used his pyrokinetic powers to help. This scene was funny, the banter was spot on and the action was secondary to the play between the characters.
Even in Larissa Ione’s Demonica series (first book Pleasure Unbound) the demons rule but the half-vamp, half-demon Wraith will have a place on my bookshelves anytime, anywhere. If Larissa publishes a matchbook cover and it has anything to do with that smurftastically-sexy vampire, I’m buying it. Stewie Griffin says so.
From Kresley Cole’s Lothaire to Laura Wright’s Lucian to Nalini Singh’s Dmitri to the Black Dagger Brotherhood (we can find a compelling argument for them all to be the sexiest, even though it’s Vishous and we’ll leave it at that. Wait, it could be Rehv…) and even a certain freakishly tall red-haired vampire named Malachi – vampires dominate even when they’re featured in series about demons, angels, shifters and the like.
Vampires have a place on the PNR shelves because they have staying power. Whether you would like a night in the Caldwell penthouse, to walk the NY streets and look for traces of Roman brothers or cackle at the idea of a trip to Romania just to keep your eyes open for a tall guy with scarred hands and a widow’s peak and green eyes rimmed in copper, vampire paranormal fans aren’t going anywhere. To all the phenomenal authors of these wonderful series, keep them coming and we’ll keep buying them.