Where Are Vampires Headed?

Every year at the World Horror Convention and many other horror and sci-fi/fantasy and comic conventions, there’s at least one if not more panels devoted to the topic of vampires in fiction—what’s happening to them, what fans have enjoyed as well as scorned in previous years, the history of vampires, why they’re still so popular, and usually, what the fate of vampires is; that is to say, what will become of vampires in the future?

A few years ago I had the chance to attend a library discussion on the subject that included authors Tanya Huff and Bram Stoker expert Elizabeth Miller. It proved to be a lively and engaging debate that ended with the assertion that someone somewhere would always find something new and exciting to do with vampires despite some of the more traditionally disliked works among purists and hardcore fans (*cough* Twilight *cough*). At the time of the discussion, the work that many pointed to on the panel as being the next great vampire book was Justin Cronin’s The Passage, which incidentally is great if you haven’t read it, despite the sheer volume of the work.

One of the works to stand out for me in the last few years is Enter, Night, by Canadian author Michael Rowe. The book takes place in small-town Ontario, which in some ways provides the best backdrop for the story because of the isolation mingled with the First Nations mythology incorporated into the plot.

Although the vampire panels at last year’s World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City were great, and it was a real treat to have a special presentation from Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew, Dacre Stoker, this year’s World Horror panel left a bit to be desired, at least for me. Moderator and vampire author Nancy Kilpatrick did ask wonderful questions, though, and each of the panelists brought something interesting to the table, particularly Les Klinger, who always makes good contributions as he’s something of a treasure trove of vampire lore; but perhaps because it was held in New Orleans, which has such a history with vampires (and not just with Anne Rice), I felt a tad let down.

There was some discussion at the end of the panel about what everyone thought was the future of vampires in horror fiction and what would be the next big thing. Right now, we’re in a post-Twilight cycle and despite the raging popularity of shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries (including its spin-off, The Originals), zombies are the big thing now, it seems, although they’re slowly starting to taper off in preparation for the next big trend.

One of the panelists mentioned we were going to see more science-related plots in vampire books, which brought to mind thoughts of the hugely successful series starting with The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which has more of a scientific influence in the vampire aspects. It’s hard to predict what the next really big vampire novel will be.

Despite the continued success of our fanged friends in paranormal romance, more authors in the subgenre are moving away from vampires for their next series not only as a way to branch out and make sure they’re not typecast as being purely vampire fiction writers, but also because their vampy fare won’t sell well forever.

What do you think will be the next big trend in vampire fiction?

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