Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vampire Girls & Werewolf Girls

I've been writing a young adult book about werewolves because it's the closest I can get to vampires without feeling nauseous.

I really dislike it when people despair of the current generation of young readers who are obsessed with teenage vampires because I find teenage vampires very interesting (I'd want to; I'm writing a PhD on them) & I think people are too quick to dismiss trends in popular culture, especially when they're primarily adolescent trends. I also dislike it when people say Twilight is a badly written book, because it isn't. It's quite problematic in many respects, but it isn't badly written.

However. I have this theory-in-progress that there are two types of girl out there: the vampire girl & the werewolf girl. The former will usually be attracted to the Beautiful Mysterious Stranger (the vampire) while the latter tends to go for the Best Friend Next Door (the werewolf). I realise this is a very vague & limited theory-in-progress, but it's mainly intended as a humorous anecdote, so it shouldn't be taken too seriously. I think that's probably why we see so many vampire-human-werewolf love triangles (in fiction, not in real life where we all know vampires don't exist), but while I can think of three off the top of my head (Twilight, the first season of True Blood & Tantalize), I can't think of any where the girl gets with the werewolf in the end. Also I can't think of any that aren't heterosexual. I'd love it if anyone who knows of any could point them out to me. I'm sure there are some, but the top of my head is a little fuzzy this evening.

I guess I've always been a Werewolf Girl. So I've been writing a book about werewolves because they're like vampires, only not, & supernatural young adult fiction is seriously popular at the moment, so I figure it can't hurt. But I made the mistake of rereading the first half of the manuscript after having devoured a wonderful young adult book in one sitting on the train back from Waterford: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is fast-paced & action-packed & about a spunky & resilient heroine forced to compete in a dystopian future's horrific reality TV show (somewhere between Goblet of Fire & Battle Royale) & which makes anything read right after it seem dull & lagging in comparison. So now I'm faced with terrible Writer's Angst & wondering if I should leave the supernatural genre to my research & just write a nice little piece of magic-realism-with-a-hint-of-romance (Aloof Mysterious Stranger or Best Friend Next Door, which will it be?) or maybe a story about the end of the world. I've always liked those. What do you do, fellow writers, when faced with this kind of Angst? I suppose I should just concentrate on my research until it goes away.

(Beside me, on the train, Alan was reading I Capture the Castle & I couldn't help imagining the three texts combining to form some sort of strange tangled tale about dreamy teenage werewolves in 1930s dress fighting to the death in the grounds of an old castle. Maybe that's the book I should be writing.)


  1. I get similar angst when I read fantastically mad or cutting edge science fiction and suddenly Vell seems... generic. Derivative. It worries me eternally, but what helps me, and what might help you, is that my story seems duller in comparison because I know it so well. It's my old pair of slippers that I can slip on and know exactly where I'm at. Stories we read by other people are the shiny new shoes: exciting and fascinating and full of surprises, but not necessarily better. And for someone else reading your werewolf novel (which I demand to read when you feel ready to give it round to people), that will be the shiny new story taking them down roads whose endings they can only guess at.

    Concentrating on the research can help you get out of the Angst, especially since your research is in the same overall genre you're writing in. I've done that myself before, but before you put it aside, just remember that because you know every nook and cranny of that story, it doesn't mean that you're not going to surprise someone else.

    Also, my major teenage fictional crushes were neither vampires nor werewolves, but rather geeky archaeologists with glasses. What does that make me? :)

  2. I think that makes you the Werewolf girl, unless the nerdy archaeologists were aloof & mysterious. Hey, one of my childhood crushes was an anthropomorphised turtle in a blue eye mask!

    That does help, thank you. And if I continue with it I'll send it to you. I think I might send it first to someone who might just be my fairest critic, & a representative of my target audience: my fourteen-year-old brother.