I Liked Vampires Before Vampires Were Cool

No, really.  I have the rejection letters to prove it.  Back when the years still had a 19 in them, I sent out queries to a bunch of agents.  Here’s what I got back:

“Great characters, but I can’t sell a vampire book.  Would like to take a look at your next book.”  (Sadly, the next book also had vampires in it, the same vampires actually, just doing different things.)

“No market for vampire fiction.”

One agent just sent my original query back with “Vampires are out” scrawled across it in blue ink.

Disheartened, I took the next logical step.

Trying to figure out how to turn my vampire characters into something else.

But turning vampires into something else isn’t as easy as it looks.  Since my characters can become wolves, making them werewolves seemed to be a perfect alternative, but it wasn’t.  Werewolves breathe, vampires don’t.  And being dead is an important plot point.  So they could be zombies then, zombies are dead, but a little too one dimensional for my taste.  Once you’ve discussed their obsession with brains, there’s really nowhere else to go.

And decomposition is never sexy.

So my characters remained vampires.  I became reclusive, writing vampire stories for myself, not showing them to anybody.  I was very reluctant to admit that I wrote at all, let alone my subject matter.

“Oh, you write stories?  What do you write about?”

“Oh, stuff.  You know, stories about stuff.  How are those Dodgers doing?”

Then Twilight happened.

But instead of feeling liberated, I suddenly felt trendy.  And embarrassed.  Not that my vampires sparkle, but suddenly I felt everyone expected them to.  Years and years of work reduced to a fad.  I didn’t want to be accepted just because I had written a vampire story any more than I wanted to be rejected because I had written a vampire story.

I want people to care about my characters because they’re good characters, not just because they have fangs.  Yes, they’re vampires, but I can’t change that, heaven knows I’ve tried.  For my characters, being a vampire is an inescapable feature, like having a third arm.  You can’t ignore it, but if you take it away, everyone is going to notice the hole.

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9 thoughts on “I Liked Vampires Before Vampires Were Cool

  1. Robin, you were way ahead of your time…if only you’d gotten to What’s Her Name’s agent ten minutes before she did, we’d be watching your vamps NOT sparkle and NOT knock up their stupid one dimensional human obsession on the big screen. Bleh.

    1. You know, I haven’t quite figured out the predatory advantage of sparkling. The vampire chases his victim out into the light. The victim turns, momentarily dumbfounded. “Is that guy sparkling?” Then the vampire attacks. Something like that?

      1. The sparkle thing was a big deal in the first movie. Having just seen the most recent release i’m still scratching my head why Edward took his stoo-pid one dimensional human obsession on a honeymoon to…… Rio.

  2. I see you left out the part where your characters talk to you. I can just hear the conversation with Drac about changing him in any way. Like the guy who’d kill to see himself in a mirror would agree to zombie-ism. Oh sure, you hide behind plot points as your reasons for keeping your vamps, but really you’re afraid they’ll beat you up. 😉

    1. I think Eeyore is a zombie. Isn’t he always losing his tail? Or perhaps Nanog is a changeling. One of those.

      I saw a great tee-shirt the other day. “Writer’s Block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.”

  3. LOL–I too, loved vampires before they were trendy, and now they’ve been RUINED. By crossing vampires with unicorns (which were also once genuinely cool), a whole genre has been horribly tainted… Couldn’t agree more with the zombie statement: I suspect that’s why zombies have gained so astonishingly in popularity. One doesn’t have to comprehend more than “brains” and “decomposition” to grok a zombie in fullness.

    Actually, that’s not true either! Even zombies were far more interesting before Night of the Living Dead reached its hundredth undead monkey.

    Of course your vampires can turn into wolves, because you did your homework. Vamping-it-old-school vampires turn into wolves (not bats, that was Stoker’s idea) from time to time.

    I never actually completed my biologically-plausible vampire stories, because the vampire thing seemed a little ruined even in the 80’s (and some other stuff), but I certainly hear ya.

    We know you’re cool, and that goes double for Drac.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Zig. Drac knows he’s cool; I still think I should be in a 12 step program for people who insist on writing stories about vampires.

      Don’t get me started on unicorns…

  4. Maybe you should try to write a story about a group of only partial zombies. They had this ancient dna anti zombie dna left over from when we were puddles of ooze in the primordial goop so whatever zombie venom they were exposed to only worked a little.

    There, now you can have your cool zombies who eat Whoppers instead of humans.

    BTW, remember when I was in LA earlier in the year and I told you about my idea for a Pixar movie (the Christmas Tree)? Now that we are in the holiday season I am sensing that somewhere in the multiverse right now that my film, which opened Thanksgiving weekend, is approaching $200 mil worldwide right now. Gotta love that multiverse.

    1. Thank you for your recent submission, but we are no longer accepting stories about Whopper-eating partial zombies at this time.

      In another universe, I’m congratulating you on your movie’s success.

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