Some weeks ago I couldn’t stop raving and raving about a book called THE TAKER by Alma Katsu. And honestly, I still haven’t stopped. This isn’t an easy book to just throw into the typical categories & genres, other than to say it is dark and whimsical in the way a story would be if Anne Rice and Tim Burton were to collaborate. And it is definitely not for the faint of heart. (It is not YA.)
Book two of this three-book series is out now, THE RECKONING, and I can not wait to get my hands on a copy! Author Alma Katsu’s writing style is beautifully prosaic and deeply thought provoking, her characters are full of depth and complexity in their human flaws and weaknesses. I have no doubt I’ll be as enthralled with this installment of her intriguing and unique story (and likely anything she writes in the future).
I’m very pleased to have Alma here to Guest Blog, especially on a topic that was the catalyst that brought TwilightMOMS to fruition, and one that we all have an opinion on. So, without further ado, here is Alma Katsu…
Bloodthirsty for Vampires?
Why do we like to read stories about vampires? I know the question has been asked a thousand—no, make that a million times, but please bear with me. I’m asking because I really want your thoughts, and I have a question for you at the end.
I grew up loving all things dark and diabolical, starring with Edgar Allan Poe,
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and watching Dark Shadows after school and marathons of Hammer horror films on Saturday. I read early Anne Rice and a little Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. And, like some fans of the genre, I have a Goth mentality. Not everyone does. I understand that. You can like vampires and be as sunny as a California afternoon. But me, I’m part of the camp that adores Byron, Shelley, and absinthe cocktails, though living in buttoned-down Washington, DC, I’ve learned to hide it well.
Twelve years ago, when I started working on my first book, THE TAKER, it was a
no-brainer that I’d write something with a dark supernatural flavor. But, believe it or not, it was a hard sell. “The world doesn’t need another Anne Rice,” was what one top literary agent said as he handed back my pages. Laurell K. Hamilton had yet to publish her first Anita Blake novel; Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s popularity was fading. “Vampires are dead,” this agent—perhaps one of the biggest in genre fiction at the time—said to me. No one knew that he’d be eating those words before long. No one knew that in a few short years, TWILIGHT would be blazing its own trail through the literary world.
It didn’t matter that THE TAKER wasn’t a vampire story. The supernatural element in the book is close enough—a quest for a love that will last forever, immortals prone to decadence and debauchery—that it was tarred with the same brush. I continued working on the book anyway, figuring it would probably never get a contract but knowing that it was the story I had to write. The characters, for all their similarities to their vampiric cousins, were unique enough that I couldn’t forget them and I couldn’t give up on them. Now if you flash forward a decade, the second book in trilogy, THE RECKONING, has just come out. It looks like enough people were captivated by THE TAKER’s unique world that it’s short-term future is assured. So far, so good.
However… I’m reading a novel that just came out that takes a little different spin on the vampire myth (I won’t give the name because, to tell the truth, it’s a little disappointing) and it’s gotten me thinking about my earlier love of vampires. There’s a feeling specific to vampires that you don’t get with other genres. Maybe it’s the profound sense of melancholy and loss, their personal sense of tragedy, but it’s been calling me. I’m wondering if I should—write a vampire novel.
Here’s where I would like your opinion. Tell me: what drew you to the TWILIGHT
books? Were you a fan of vampire stories before you discovered the books, or did
you read them even though the supernatural wasn’t your cup of tea? Do you read vampire books by authors besides Ms. Meyer? Do you like your vampires on the big or small screen—True Blood, for instance—but not on the page? Will vampire stories, like their inspiration, never die or it is time for them to take to their coffins for a long hibernation?
Alma Katsu is the author of The Reckoning and The Taker (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster), the first two books in a centuries-spanning trilogy of love, loss and redemption. The novels have been described as a mix of supernatural-powered fantasy, historical and dark romance, and frequently compared to the early works of Anne Rice and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. The Taker was selected by Booklist as a top ten debut novel of 2011. You can learn more about the books at http://www.almakatsu.com