Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome to the Monster Mash!

In my post of this past Thursday I commented briefly on the healthy state of paranormal publishing, vis-a-vis the report that Hachette owed its second great year to Stephanie Meyers and the ongoing "Twilight" phenom. When the last Harry Potter novel was released lo those coupla years ago, everyone in publishing held their collective breath. Could the book survive the boy wizard's finale? What was the next great book/writer just over the horizon?

Well, along came Stephanie, and the rest is very recent history.

But that's not all, folks.

Every time the discussion rolls around to genres and trends, there are a few comments that vampires are (pardon the pun) dead, and that paranormal is waning as a genre. There's the discussion of a "new" monster that's all the rage. Whether the talk is of YA, or romance, or paranormal fiction, everyone has an opinion on this genre.

Mine? Well, my opinion is that it is here to stay. Evolving, for sure. But the wealth of writers out there each putting their own spin on the genre are creating a monstrously great selection.

Just this week's edition of Publishers Weekly (print, I'm talking, not online, where there's even more), there were the following stories, blurbs and announcement:

The "Pick of the Week" is the new M. J. Rose paranormal, "The Hypnotist" (Mira).

The aforementioned story of the Hachette success, led by the ka-ching engendered by Ms. Meyer.

The Hardcover Bestsellers/Fiction list includes J. D. Robb' latest, "Fantasy In Death" at 3 and "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" at #4 - with the notation that Abe may be headed for the movies - via Tim Burton. And another paranormal title on the list? "Black Magic Sanction" by Kim Harrison. And the Paperback Bestseller lists the Dresden creator, Jim Butcher, with the latest wizard installment, "Turn Coat". And PW goes on to note that the late and much lamented Dresden TV series, canceled over vociferous complaints from his fans, is out on DVD.

Then there's the major story on a "The Passage" (and an 800 page one at that). The first paragraph says "Every few years a book comes along that seems destined for bestsellerdom." The book is the first in a trilogy by 47 year old Justin Cronin, from Texas. And he's not just your everyday author - he's a PEN/Hemingway award winner for a literary fiction novel. But when was the last time you heard about a literary novel garnering a $5.5 million three-book deal AND film deal ($3.7 mill for the boook and $1.75 million option deal by Ridley Scott)?

Moving on to the story, "London Briefcase: What the Big Six Are Bringing to the Fair" (referring to the 2010 London Bookfair). Penguin touts their title, "Blood Oath: The President's Vampire". Macmillan's Thomas Dunne imprint has "The Demon Trapper's Daughter", first in a new YA series. And HarperCollins has the indominatable and prolific Meg Cabot with her "Insatiable", a sequel to the paranormal grandaddy, "Dracula", which has already gathered a slew of foreign rights sales.

In the reviews section we get 6 varying reviews including one on a fantasy world (Bertrice Small's "Crown of Destiny"), a dark horror novel, ("Katja From the Punk Band" by Simon Logan), "Climate of Change" from Piers Anthony, his latest Geodyssey novel, "The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories", a short-story collection encompassing alternative history, hi-tech sci-fi, psychological fantasy and more including several Nebula winners. A "sword and sorcery yarn" by Michael Ehart ("The Tears of Ishtar"), and, but of course, Sookie's next adventure, "Dead in the Family" by Charlaine Harris.

The "Soapbox" column end-page by Andrea Jones discusses a painful incident involving her title, "Hook & Jill" - which is a retelling of Peter Pan for adults.

But Publishers Weekly does not corner the market on paranormal news. I'd mentioned the positioning of the new release, "Angelology" on the Boston Globe bestseller list. Daily Variety reported on the new TV series, the animated "Ugly Americans" from Comedy Central where monsters, mythical creatures and more will abound. And "True Blood"'s third season package was announced, including the mention of their still exemplary Nielsen numbers.

What else is in the paranormal news? Theatre doesn't escape the lure of the supernatural either, and the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, "Love Never Dies", is poised for a launch.

USA Today (and everyone else) ran a story on the new "Twilight" graphic novel, the first of only many to come, I'm sure.

Publishers Marketplace's Daily Deals reports on foreign rights sales for the "Twilight" graphic. The Publishers Lunch Delux weekly reports sales for a new L. A. Bank's fallen angels series ("good deal" = $100,000 - $250,000), Sylvia Day's new trilogy (book one "Angel Enchained") which has fallen angels, vampires, and lycans - at auction to NAL (and we all know what "at auction" means!). Carol Nelson Douglas's "Silver Zombie" plus a second title, sold to Juno, and it has a paranoraml investigator in Kansas (?) and deals with "zombies, weather witches and demon drug lords". Under the "romance" sales is also announced 2 titles from Vivi Anna, featuring demon hunters, to Silhouette Nocturne.

Children's Middle Grade sales including "The Story of Liesl & Po", with its elements of magic and magicians.

YA sales: "Forever" by Maggie Stiefvater (3rd title in the trilogy), AND 3 new stand-alone fantasy titles to Scholastic, OR Melling's mythological adventure "The Celtic Princess", and William Hill's "Department 19", which is from a series about a government agency of vampire hunters, again at auction for a three book deal.

Okay, though I could go on and on, I won't. But these stories are all ones that I did not hunt up, but simply came across on one, that's right, ONE, day of reading my trades.

So, paranormal dying out? Vampires passe? Weres old hat? I think not.

Authors continue to discover new twists to old favorites, from vampires to shifters and weres. Witches, fae, demons, gargoyles, zombies are being joined by the latest craze - the fallen angel. Dark and appealing, just check out your local bookstore for the covers with the tell-tale wings. With ingenuity, creativity and in some cases sheer genuis they tweak and twist and reform ideas and creatures and keep the genre expanding, growing and moving forward.

Television, film and even theatre are all on the paranormal bandwagon in a big way.

But so much of that comes from the books themselves. From the whimsical to the wacky (Dakota Cassidy's "Accidental" series, anything by Nina Bangs, for example, who populates some of her worlds with everything from the vamp and the were to the cosmic troublemaker and Gods), to the dark and horrific (both Laurell K. Hamilton series, Anita Blake and Merry Gentry), to the darkly comedic (Jim Butcher and Simon Green), to the sexy romances filled with gods from Atlantis, darkhunters and dreamhunters (Sherilyn Kenyon), the hot and steamy (J. R. Ward) and the historical gothic ("The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker" by Leanna Renee Heiber, first in a Victorian gothic series to be followed by "The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker").

There are romances, mysteries, YA, kids books and picture boooks all romping merrily in the paranormal world. Futuristics, time-travel, historicals, erotic romances: there's no end to the genres and sub-genres that are embracing paranormals.

So I think we can safely assume that, for now, all those things that go bump in the night, all the something wickeds that this way come, well, they're here to stay!


Milton T. Burton said...

The human race will still be fascinated by the supernatural ten thousand years from now. That is if we survive that long, which is doubtful. It is in our genes. Part of our mind is still huddled in the cave listening to the tribal bard chant stories about the feral eyes that gleam in the dark just beyond the fire's dim glow.

Lise said...

I can always count on you, Mr. Burton to have a sage and welcome comment on my blogs - and anything else. Thank you from the bottom of my paranormal-loving heart for visiting and commenting! (I know you've got that odd twist of reality gene, too!)