At the sci-fi fantasy convention I attended last weekend, one topic of conversation kept coming up over and over again between con guests, aspiring authors, and published authors. It even had its own panel on Sunday called “Vampires don’t sparkle” which I did not attend but pretty much got the blow by blow anyway at other panels.
I’m sure Stephanie Meyer doesn’t care what a bunch of sci-fi authors have to say about her at a convention in Omaha, Nebraska, but I did find myself on more than one occasion defending her and her books from the riotous mob. I even considered hijacking a panel at one point to throw down over this subject, but I minded my manners. The irony of this is that I’m not really a Twilight fan and have said so on more than one occasion. I think Mrs. Meyer’s writing is poorly executed and her glorification of an empty, co-dependent, watery girl and her dangerous, controlling, stalker boyfriend is a real problem for today’s teens. But to be fair, that’s not Mrs. Meyer’s fault. She wrote a book, our society made it a household name, and she can’t be blamed if anyone decides to emulate themselves or mold themselves after her stories, just as it wouldn’t be Cassandra Clare’s fault if someone decided they could totally make a motorcycle fly off a building, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fault if someone committed crimes based on the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. When you divorce the way the world has twisted her stories from the writing of said stories, what you get is a four book series that people have fallen in love with and spawned a whole generation of paranormal fiction for just about anyone’s taste.
What I heard were a lot of people talking about how Twilight ruined vampires, to which I argued: not really. I mean, if vampires were ruined they wouldn’t be the hottest selling ticket on the paranormal money train. The market wouldn’t be interested in them to the obsessive, singular way that they are. If anything, Twilight gave vampires a chance to really shine (no sparkle pun intended) and with it just about every other movie monster in the business.
Case in point: a coworker of mine hasn’t read a book for fun since she was in sixth grade. Her kids are older than she was the last time she read for fun. Also, she’s dyslexic which makes it so much harder to enjoy books in the first place. But she liked the movies and we got into more than one discussion about it because I don’t like the movies at all. At. All. Somehow I convinced her to give the books a try. And for a person who hasn’t read anything for fun since before she could legally drive, she devoured the first book and half the second in only a matter of days. So I have a real hard time backing the party that calls for Mrs. Meyer’s head because she ruined vampires. The evidence says otherwise and the only people who seem to hate her are other authors and people who like their vampires unromantic.
I even got into a discussion about how Twilight was sort of like the Nintendo Wii of the book world. It doesn’t have the juice to hold the attention of the hardcore readers, but the moms and dads and people who have never been for-fun-readers are pumping their money into a market that could really use the attention. And a lot of them are sticking around to see if there’s something else they might like.
And you just can’t argue with that, no matter how much sparkly vampires drive you crazy. There are so many people I have known that picked up Twilight and afterward made the jump to Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series immediately after, and from there The Hunger Games, Beautiful Creatures, hush, hush, and many others
I’ve convinced my coworker to go from Twilight to Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver series. And how cool is that?