Vampires, vampires, all over the place. These days you can’t walk into a bookstore, pick up a magazine, flip through the TV guide, or watch movie previews without being reminded that the vampire trend (“trend” going back over a hundred years to Bram Stoker) is still chugging full-bore ahead. Vampires, I’ve decided, are like roaches. Sexy roaches! (Good thing that didn’t sound weird.)
Which is great by me and better than great, since thanks to the fictional undead I’m now a full-time writer who occasionally sees my name on the New York Times best-seller list. Thanks, hordes of fictional blood-sucking spawn! No, really, vampires, thank you. I owe you a solid.
Not only is the trend letting me write what I love, it’s letting me talk about it on national television, newspapers, and magazine and blog interviews. Which brings me to the Twilight series and how it relates to Queen Betsy and the gang. Because what people don’t know is that Twilight is my stalker. Twilight is the guy who breaks into my house when nobody’s home and sniffs my dryer lint. Twilight’s gonna hound me to my grave. I’m probably going to have to get a restraining order against Twilight. And it’s all good.
It started on my book tours. Whenever an Undead book came out, there was a new Stephanie Meyer book about four to six weeks behind it. And a reader would always ask me about her upcoming book. “Uh, I have no idea. I didn’t write that one. No, I’ve never met her. No, I’ve got no idea about spoilers: I didn’t write that one. Yes, I think Kristin and Robert make a cute couple in real life. No, I don’t think she’s playing hard to get. Um…anybody have a question for me about the books I did write?”
Then Ms. Meyers sold the movie rights, which was a personal disaster for me. I’m no cinephile, but I am a preview-phile: I’d watch two hours of previews if I could. And this meant I couldn’t avoid Twilight previews, or the giant movie posters in the lobby. “Argh, Stephanie Meyer, why are you tormenting me? I must shield my eyes. Don’t look directly at the movie poster! Remember the scene in Raiders at the end when they opened the Ark and the bad guy’s face melted? Don’t look directly at the Twilight preview.”
Cut to several months later…the latest Twilight movie was scheduled to open one day after my newest Undead book hit the stores. Not only did I have no idea, I was laser-focused on my PR: book tours, interviews, etc. Thus, when CNN called me, I was thrilled for about eight seconds, just long enough to hear: “Yeah, well, we’d like another writer in the genre to talk about the Twilight phenomenon, so can you come on for about five minutes and talk about how the Twilight books have impacted your own career?”
Of course I told them no. I’ve got my pride, dammit! “Listen, CNN, you can take your international coverage and priceless opportunity for me to promote and sit ‘n spin. I won’t do it! And you can’t make me! Nobody can make me!”
Wrong: I could make me. Because at the twelve second mark I regained my senses, and this is what I really said: “Sure, I’d love to. But I’ve got to warn you, not only have I not read the books, I’m gonna judge them. I’m gonna judge them so hard!” The irony wasn’t lost on me. I think romance, more than any other genre, is most often judged by people who have never read one. “Oh, you’re a writer? What do you write?” “Paranormal romance, mostly.” “Ugh, romance? That’s awful. I can’t stand those Fabio heaving bosom books.” “Sorry to hear that…which ones have you read?” “Oh, I’d never read one of THOSE. Gross.” “Uh-huh. Would you mind holding this live grenade for me while I go run some errands? Thanks. Hey, if your fingers get tired, just drop it.”
So there I was, hours later, doing the exact same thing: judging books I’ve never read. And when the interviewer asked me what parents should tell their Twihard teens (Me: “What the hell is a Twihard?”), I suggested that what seemed super romantic in a book or movie would get a guy slapped with a restraining order in real life. Also, Edward? The hero? He’s been eligible for Social Security for years…and he’s dating a teenager. (And more than dating in later books. Gross.) “If Edward actually looked his age,” I told the nation, “Bella would run shrieking in the other direction, which is a totally appropriate response. Also, he watches her. In her sleep! I’ve mentioned I’m shooting my mouth off about books I haven’t read, right? Also: her sleep!”
In all seriousness, I added, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that paranormal readers have so much to choose from these days. Ms. Meyers is one of the writers who made that happen. As an author, I’m writhing with envy and bitterness. But as a reader, I’m grateful because her work has changed how a lot of people see the genre.” In fact, I think Ms. Meyers is the J.K. Rowling of paranormal fiction. (Wait…is J.K. Rowling still the J.K. Rowling of paranormal fiction?) I finished by suggesting that parents sit down with their Twihards and explain that if an old man is following them around and watching them sleep, it’s time to head to the nearest Cop Shop and take out Mr. Restraining Order.
A few hours later, my phone rang again. Woo-hoo! The CNN interview was already leading to more PR about Betsy and my Undead books! My clever instinct was paying off.
“Hi, this is ABC…that was a nice interview this morning.” Aw, shucks. Glad you liked it. “Will you come on our show and say mean sarcastic things about Twilight?”
Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh! (Of course I did it. It’s ABC!)
So, as above: Twilight’s my stalker. But I’ve got to admit, getting interviewed on national television about writing is, as far as problems go, a pretty good one to have. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a problem. What’s hilarious to me (as if I needed more irony in this chapter of my life) is that I could have blogged here about anything, anything at all…and blogged about Twilight.
Damn you, Stephanie Meyers! I guess you’ve got me under your spell, too. Imagine the iron grip she’d have on me if I’d actually read the series.
In closing, thanks for putting up with my shrill complaints about problems that aren’t really problems. As a reward (or a deterrent, I guess, depending on whether you’re a fan of the genre), I’m giving away five books. No, not books from the Twilight series. Five copies of UNDEAD AND UNDERMINED. To enter, just comment on my blog post. Something like, “Wow, MJD sure likes to whine about problems that aren’t really problems” will do just fine. 🙂
St. Paul, MN
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