What is the deal with vampire romance novels?

Yeah, I know they've been around for a while already. But after Ronda and I slept in my niece's room while visiting my sister Carol in Tampa this summer, and I saw several of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" novels on her bookshelf, I began to wonder what the phenomenon signified. With Twilight opening in movie theaters in November, it seems I am not alone. Ah, riding the waves of popular culture...

Since Halloween is not far away, I thought I would share some results of my investigation.

Let's begin with a review of the literature. SciFiPedia has a great little entry.

Barbara Emrys, a professor of English and a contributor to “The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance,” thinks it is simply to do with the appeal of the "bad boy".

Super Jive offers her roundup of this "Vampire Renaissance" in books, TV and film at the womens' blog, "BlogHer".

Josh Eiserike, an entertainment columnist for the Potomac News, rolls his eyes. He'll take pirates any day. Maybe we should have a "Talk Like a Vampire Day" too! Mooah! Is it all just a media blitz, a grab for eyeballs and wallets?

Finally, Australia's Monash University is hosting a two day symposium, which is going on as I write. "Vampires, Vamps and Va Va Voom: A Critical Engagement with Paranormal Romance". Now we're talking! I'd love to read the papers.

Edit, 12/05/08: I want to point readers to this thoughtful piece on the film production of Twilight at The Atlantic magazine by Caitlin Flanagan, What Girls Want: A series of vampire novels illuminates the complexities of female adolescent desire.


Mercedes said...

Vampirism within the world of broadcast news....try "Fangland" by John Marks. I didn't see that within the lit review.

Brett said...

Thanks for that, Mercedes. I had a chance to look at "Fangland" today when it turned up on a cart of books I was shelving. Definitely an original take on the genre.

Going back and looking at the SciFiPedia survey, I think they did a pretty good job overall. Covering vampire fiction post-Rice's "Interview" is about as daunting as surveying "sword & sorcery"/fantasy fiction post-Lord of the Rings. You are bound to miss a lot.

Which is why we need pros at Reader Advisory like you to fill in the gaps! Thanks again.

Seeing another trend, the rebirth of psychic detective novels, such as the Jim Butcher "Dresden Files". I own a number of older examples of the genre, such as Dion Fortune's "Dr. Taverner" stories and Algernon Blackwood's "John Silent" stories. Food for a future blogpost.

littleread said...


I know this is totally behind the times, but Monash put up the podcast for this conference late last year!



Brett said...

Excellent, littleread, thanks for letting me know! It is by no means "behind the times". I will pass it along. Edgy stuff. Might you be one of the contributors? Thanks for visiting.