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Guest Post: Have fangs been replaced?

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Passion Unleashed by Larissa IoneAs 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.

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene FrostYou 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.

15 Responses to “Guest Post: Have fangs been replaced?”

  1. Mel Thomas says:

    Great blog, Candace!! I had this discussion the other day when asked why I still read about vampires. Yes they do seem to be everywhere and yes some of them are beyond lame but I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading about them.

    I’ve been hooked on vampires since I was a teenager. My dad was a huge Stephen King fan so I had access to all of his books. I liked Salem’s Lot because I was really into horror at the time and it scared the bejesus out of me. What really sucked me into the paranormal genre was Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls. It was dark, twisted, violent, sexual and it rocked my little teenage world. It has been all things paranormal for me every since.

    So when asked why I still want to read about vampires I said read Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series and JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and you will understand why I have a hard on for vampires. I love shifters, angels, demons, berserkers, dragons and witches but vampires are something I’ve been into for over 20 years. The love of them is not going to go away just because a sparky vampire hit the mainstream and people started calling them overrated and lame. Obviously those people aren’t reading any good books and for lack of a better term, they can bite me.

  2. ForeverReading1 says:

    Very good blog, Candace! So proud of you, even though you went a little overboard with “sexiest vampire in literary history, Vlad Tepesh” comment.(lol) This blog showcases your aspiring writing talent and I’m positive you will become a published writer soon. My paranormal addiction started with my grandfather’s collection of the classics: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Then as I got older I graduated to all of Anne Rice’s books starting with The Mummy and The Feast of All Saints. I also discovered the Night Huntress series as well as other paranormal series through Amazon, and as long as paranormal books keep being written I will continue to buy and read them.

  3. Candace says:

    Mel, this is why we get along. FR1, we can rock paper scissors our Vlad debate out (big grin). Paranormal was in literary veins (ha!) years ago and it has big staying power. As much as I love most paranormal factions, the vamps win in my book. That being said, if Thea Harrison wanted to throw another thunderbird in the mix (dang that Tricks for taking Tiago) or if Kresley Cole wanted to find more Woedes or MacReives to write about, I’m good with that too:)

  4. eva says:

    But you really can’t go wrong with Bones. Sure a lot of the other characters you mentioned are great, but between Bones and pretty much any other vamp for me Bones wins every time. (Even if some of those BDB boys sound yummy.)
    But I admit to having no idea who “even a certain freakishly tall red-haired vampire named Malachi” is? Care to share?

  5. Viki S. says:

    Excellent post. I love Wraith above all others.

  6. Candace says:

    Freakishly tall red-haired vampire is Shiloh Walker’s creation. Check out The Hunters. And Viki, big fist bump on Wraith. Whoo.

    Definitely will second the Bones argument, even though my tastes are a little more Romanian in the Night Huntress universe.

  7. Missie says:

    Yay! Candace, I love this post! I know people are probably tired of seeing vampire book reviews on my blog, but I’m not gonna stop reading them. They draw me in like no other.

    As a teen, I remember being so proud after finishing Salem’s Lot. Even though it didn’t feature a romance, I loved it because it scared the crap out of me.

    And yes, Crispin and Tepesh and the Brotherhood are a huge reason why vampire will never die! Ya feel me, true!

    • Candace says:

      Yeah, let me grab a potato launcher, true? Can’t you just imagine Bones, Spade and Ian with a potato launcher? Oh I have to stop, I’m getting lots of visuals.

      @cdnmrs – I was more a fan of Frankenberry *hides in shame*.

  8. CdnMrs says:

    Where’s my comment? I swear I left one earlier.
    Anywho…my obsession with vampires started very young. As far back as I can remember I’ve had a thing for vamps starting with Sesame Street’s The Count and General Mills’ Count Chocula. In my late 20’s I was introduced to Edward, Bill, Eric and then (cue boy’s choir) Bones. A vamp sans angst, with humour, kickassedness and more sex appeal then you could shake a stick at. When I think of Chapter 32 I involuntarily shudder and when I think of what Bones would do for his wife to keep her safe my knees buckle.
    Vamps=Good Times

  9. Lexi says:

    You can’t think about paranormal romance and NOT have numerous books with camps pop up in your head. I totally agree with you about Crispin and staying power…oh that sounds kinds dirty when I reread it. =)

  10. Catherine says:

    I think I might be the only reader in the paranormal universe who has not read the Night Huntress Series. I hope Bones is as great as you all made out cause I just moved Halfway to the Grave from my wishlist to my shopping cart.

  11. Andie says:

    Now that’s what i’m talking about!! I Love Barrons whatever he is, I Love a lot of Angels (especially Singh’s Raphael), I Love a few shifter, I adore Demons!!! BUT i don’t give a darn shite about them, when a book with Bones in it is near by me!!

  12. Smash Attack says:

    This was a stellar post. Of course vamps will remain and will likely never be really replaced. However, I am absolutely loving the introduction of many other paranormal beasties because they breath new life into the genre!

  13. Marina says:

    Great post and even better commends!
    I still have a hard time reading something without vampires.
    The first time I experience the erotic piercing of a fang in a most delicate neck will remain forever curved in my memory (it was Brock and Jena from the midnight breed series).
    Love Vamps and love the way they evolved throughout time, can do without the crosses, the holy water and the coffins!

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