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.