Last week I was hanging out with my friend in Borders at Santana Row after seeing The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor (the best straight-to-DVD release movie I ever saw in a movie theater), I noticed that young girls filled the bookstore. Most appeared normal, some had faces painted white with red lips and a few wore bizarre costumes. I asked my friend if they were there for “The Tales of Beedle The Bard” pre-order by the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, mentioned in an email from Borders a few days earlier. He said they were here for the “Breaking Dawn” midnight release party. I haven’t heard of it. When we came upon the display stand, it became obvious why I haven’t heard of it. The book was from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer in the ever popular paranormal romance genre.
Seems like every female writer is coming out with a series book that takes a standard genre (i.e., science fiction, fantasy or horror), add a dollop of romance porn, and blend well into a new genre. (Male writers don’t face the same pressure when writing a series book, but some do add a tar ball of porn that leaves the story dying on the bed sheets, and no marketing department would dare claim that as a new cross genre.) If Amazon Recommendations are any indicator over the last few years, the paranormal romance genre is getting saturated with wannabe titles that lack any trace of originality like a bad date with a vampire.
I’m a fan of Kim Harrison’s The Hollow series about a witch, a vampire and a pixy working together as independent bounty hunters in Cincinnati. The titles are variations from Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Western movies (i.e., “Every Which Way But Dead,” and “The Good, The Bad and The Undead”). There’s a strong touch of sexuality that goes either way depending on who’s in trouble. I just speed read through those parts since that’s not what I’m reading the book for. I got into this series while reading another supernatural mystery series, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, about a wizard for hire in Chicago.
According to Amazon Recommendations, The Hollow series now belongs in the paranormal romance genre, perhaps because the author has written several anthologies where paranormal romance was the main theme. I get recommendations about every paranormal series out there—with some series being way, way, way out there—even though I’m not interested. Subsequently, I run away from those books like a vampire waking up at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
The Twilight series was illuminating for another reason. Not because the series is a potential successor to the Harry Potter franchise that can captured the hearts of teenyboppers worldwide that makes bucket loads of cash for the writer and publisher. The general trend in fiction publishing is to have a series if you’re not writing “serious literature” (whatever the heck that is since I don’t write that). If you’re bringing a series to a conclusion (this applies to trilogies as well), you better wrapped up the series in way that keeps the readers satisfied. The initial reaction to “Breaking Dawn” indicates that the author may have taken the easy way out that puts a stake through the heart of the conflict, disappointing many fans who expected a stronger ending. A bad enough ending can easily kill the word-of-mouth popularity for the other books in the series, including the forthcoming Twilight: The Movie.
I’m not sure if a one-shot book can get published these days. The novel that I’m working on, and the research materials I’m gathering for two other novels, all follow a general theme of humanity, morality and technology, each one is a one-shot book with no series potential. (I suspect a minor character from one book will become a major character in another book that will link the books together.) The vampire novella that I’m working on now is the centerpiece for a pair of book trilogies. Those books—if I choose to write them—will be different from the novels I have on the back burners. If I ever end up writing a book series, I doubt it will be in the paranormal romance genre.
NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.