by Kristin Battestella
So often vampires and werewolves are pitted against each other in the battle of the genre beasties. However, more often then not, these terror titans work in tandem in fiction and media, creating a broader, richer tug and pull sharing in the horror medium. My 2008 Eternal Press novel The Vampire Family has a family of vampires that can shape shift and transform into wolves and scary weres- and scary werecats, too. My follow up series Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family serves up vampires who prefer their wolf shapes in Book 3 Struggle.
While it is easy to have books and ebooks either have all the monster magic together or for readers to find literature specific to vampires and werewolves and all the mixes in the spectrum, films have also scored on the presumed animosity. The Underworld franchise tells of ancient vampire and werewolf wars- but fans of either creature can get their fill in these features. Likewise Twilight has made the Team Edward and Team Jacob themes top sellers. Vampires versus werewolves ideologies are good for business, simply put. Whether for or against, reluctantly working together or struggling to love or hate one or the other, in the end, vampires and werewolves are good for each other.
Unfortunately, the current subdivision of the vampire genre is getting too divergent for its own good. The watered down, lovely dovey, youth and glitter love vampire movement spurred by the Twilight craze has helped the vampire literature and media culture just as much as it may have damaged the genre. Book, television, and movie markets are now flooded with vampire material- all in the same youth, teen romance driven trends. As knock off begat knock offs, the quality pool has dropped considerably. People are tired of vampires. They think horror has been played, and all the sudden the same editors, publishers, and powers that be are now turning on the massive overdrive they helped to create. Backlash is inevitable.
Soon people even forget what came before the glitter vampire. Readers are afraid to take on another vampire story because ‘they all suck now’. (No pun intended) The quality vampiric horror gets lumped into the problematic downward glitter spiral. And when you the writer submits your hard worked, scary horror, medieval furthest thing from contemporary teenage vampire vampire manuscript, what does the publisher tell you? The worst thing a writer can possibly hear:
And it isn’t just the ‘no’ that is the worst part. It wasn’t that your story wasn’t well written or not just good enough. It might be damn decent perfection and fit in just perfectly with what this publisher’s interests are. But no, it is the fact that the marketing, timing, and overblown played mayhem of that other vampire type has just ruined your publication chances. Well, doesn’t that just suck? (Pun intended)
So then, you see, the vampires versus werewolves theory is not what hurt your novel’s chances. Rarely does a publisher say, ‘we already have a werewolf book, so we can’t take your vampire story.’ In fact it is quite the opposite, editors often look for both together to balance out their catalogue and reader varieties. They might even prefer books or series dealing with both monsters so they can cross reference all their categories. How many times have you clicked on a publisher’s store links for both ‘vampire’ and ‘werewolves’ and seen the same books? Quite a bit I suspect.
Now, have you ever seen separate links for ‘vampire horror’ and ‘vampire romance’? The breakdown between the vampire medium is almost nonexistent in appearance, even if those readers and writers and vampires lovers in the know immediately know there is a difference. How many times have you been in conversation with a fellow vampire lover and they say either ‘oh, that was too scary for me!’ or ‘This vamp was too lovey dovey for me.’ What’s sad is how many times has a reader passed on your book because they like one or the other and dismissed your book as being the wrong vampire type for them.
What then, must a vampire author do to remain relevant in a subgenre at war with itself? Keep writing damn good copy! Whichever side of vamps your on- either pure horror or paranormal romance- keep it good. Keep your universe, characters, and tales true to what the manuscript needs to be its best. Don’t give in to the mislabeling and trends. Vampires rise and fall, go underground and subculture or rise up from the dead and reign supreme over media. Not too long ago, everyone wanted exclusively paranormal light and vampire romance, now call outs are returning to pure horror and uniqueness. Make your creatures of the night stand out from the pack. Keep them worthy of the hand in hand werewolf antagonism. Good competition is healthy in fiction, writing, selling books, and reader’s choice. Write crap copy and no creature wins!
To read more about Kbatz’ vampires, read her contribution to The Great Vampire Dispute.