Friday, August 06, 2010

Monster of the Moment

(I'm buried under deadlines at the moment, so this post is  cross posted.)

Several of my writer friends recently returned from the RWA National conference. I've never personally been to the conference, but from what people tell me the con is an amazing place not only to learn about craft, but to check the pulse of the writing business. Most major publishers and dozens of top notch agents attend every year. Trends in publishing inevitably come up at the conference and the RWA loops are always buzzing with what was said once the conference ends.

What's hot? What's selling? What's out and overdone?

This year Donald Maass (from Donald Maass Literary Agency) was quoted as saying that Vampires were dead (again). In contrast, the editors on the Pocket Books spotlight said that there is something timeless about vampires. The trend they think is out? Fallen Angels. (I didn't know fallen angels were in. I can only think of one or two books with fallen angels. Anyone want to recommend some as I apparently missed the trend?)

I haven't heard yet what is supposed to be the next 'hot' monster this year. (BTW, I'm using 'monster' as a catch all phrase here. It could mean traditional horror monster, or much more human or non-monstrous beings.) I know a couple years back the hot monster was demons, but I've heard mumbles since then that agents and editors have seen too many demons.

When I first started shopping Once Bitten back in 2005/2006, I was told vampires were done. No one wanted any book that touched on vampires. Then Stephanie Myers happened, and regardless of your opinion on her books, it is an undeniable fact that vamps were suddenly in high demand again. Now? Well, I refer you back to the earlier paragraph about Maass and Pocket.

Trends in publishing come and go. Monsters become 'hot' and then get overdone or simply fall out of favor. I don't think any monster will every completely fall away--we love our monsters too much. Our interest in monsters does tend to ebb and flow though.

So let me ask you, what is your monster of the moment? What is the monster you currently can't get enough of? Or what is a monster you haven't seen in a while that you'd love to read about? No monster bashing please! Just talk about monsters you want to see more of, not less.

(Images in this post from the following movies: Interview with a Vampire, Constantine, and Pan's Labyrinth)


Porcelain Girl said...

Personally I will never get enough of werewolves and shapeshifters ^_^

I'm seeing a lot of zombie books around at the moment, as well as demons and angels. But as much as I hate to say it, I think vampires will always be the default monster we go back to, regardless of other trends. They're a good, versatile metaphor.

Augmentative AT said...

The monster(s) I definitely can't get enough of is vampires. However, I've loved vampires since "Interview with the Vampire" came out at the movies. My husband always asks, "What are you reading"? My response is always, "Another vampire book!" I think I would like to see more books that incorporate multiple supernatural beings. I like Charlaine Harris so much b/c she has vampires, shifters, werewolves, witches, and fairies all in one book. Love it! Can't get enough supernatural.

Kalayna Price said...

Procelain Girl, I don't know if I'd call vampires a default monster, but hey are definitely a prevalent one. Almost every culture has had myth or lore about a vampire-like creature. They are very fixed in the human mythos. Shapeshifters are also have lore in most cultures, though were vampires are almost always bad, shapeshifters often tend toward mischievous in older myths. I think both have a lot of staying power and will continue to thrive in literature.

Augmentative At, I also love stories which incorporate a lot of supernaturals into the worldbuilding. It's fun to see the dynamics between monsters play out in different authors worlds.

Mardel said...

I have a feeling that ghosts are going to make a comeback, due to the success of Stacia Kane's Downside books (Unholy Ghosts, Unholy Magic, City of Ghosts). In her series, ghosts can murder people and have to be contained. We'll probably see a lot of books with new twists on ghosts.

I noticed a while ago that Zombies were getting hugely popular, and angel books. There are a lot of angel books - though not necessarily fallen angels, but new twisted angels. Interesting.

I don't think any one type of monster ever completely goes away in writing anyway - vampires, shapeshifters, fairies, ghosts and demons/angels have had their ups and downs as book subjects and probably always will - but I think they will all have a bit less downtime now.

Kalayna Price said...

Mardel, I have Stacia's books in my TBR pile but I haven't read them yet. I clearly need to move them up the list because I have been hearing excellent things about them.

It will be interesting if ghosts suddenly trend. I'd read very few urban fantasy books with ghosts being key elements at the time I sold (let alone wrote) Grave Witch, but since then I've seen a handful of books hit shelves or get slotted to hit shelves. Sometimes I wonder if ideas are thrown out into the universe in handfuls. LOL.

I agree that no monster will ever fall away completely. Like I said in the post, we love our monsters, and there will always be some writer out there who has a story good enough to spark public attention.

Simon said...
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Simon said...

I think that vampires won't go away very soon, too many people like and read books about vampires. Also the idea that any one monster never totally drops out of style is probably true, though elves and dragons are not written about as much as far as I know. It depends on what genre of fantasy you look at. The whole fallen/twisted/angles thing may be coming out of a more religious view as a way of changing a trend that could be seen as threatening. Of course I am only guessing and that may not be true at all. I did recently read a book about zombies, very good one in YA lit. I forget the name at the moment. What about Djinni or Drow? We there are tons of other types of monsters.

Mardel said...

OH you should! (read the Stacia Kane series) and all three have been released now, so you could read one right after another. Although sometimes it's good to take a break between books in a series.

BTW I've been trying to find your first two books in Borders, but now luck. I suppose I'll have to order them online? Or do you know of a store (national) that carries them for sure?

Kalayna Price said...

Simon, oh Drow in urban fantasy could be interesting. I've seen them in high fantasy (specifically forgoten realms books, I think) but I can't think of any Uf novels featuring them. If you run across any, you'll have to let me know. As far as Djinn, I have seen a few, but they are definitely in the minority. Off the top of my head, the only books I can think of with Djinn are Rachel Caine's Weather Warden books, Kelly Gay's Better Part of Darkness, and I think they showed up in Hamilton's Skin Trade.

Mardel, for some reason, Borders in the US has never carried my Haven Novels (though they do in the UK, go figure). The Haven Novels are small press, so can be harder to find in brick and mortar stores. Some Barnes and Nobles keep them in stock, but you'd have to check your location. BAM and B&N can order them into the store, or the books can be purchased online from any of the major booksellers. I'm hoping once Grave Witch hits selves that some of the bookstores will begin stocking the Haven Novels.

Simon said...

Also Orcs. They tend to show up in lots of books but they never get the good parts. They tend to be canon fodder and nothing else. And when they do have a bigger part to play it tends to be comedic. For instance there is one Terry Pratchett book "Unseen Academicals" And then a Mary Gentle book "Grunts". Is it not time to have Orcs be the hero and get all dark, emo and stuff. Oh and while Orcs are technically Goblinoid not Humanoid they can be mistaken for Neanderthals. (Marginally interesting story about that)

Mardel said...

Thanks for the info. There's a B&N near me, so I should be able to get through them.

Demon Hunter said...

I never get enough of any monster. As far as angels, there are lots appearing in YA. I'll send you a list. I conducted an interview and a giveaway with my friend, N.Y. Bestselling author, Danielle Trussoni, for her novel Angelogy.

If readers love it, it never goes out of style. :-D