5 Ways to Keep Your Vampire Novel from Sucking
Let's say you've written a vampire novel, and just hypothetically we'll say it's called Last Rites and your name is Kevin R. Given. Vampires are still riding high on a giant wave of popularity, and though it shows signs of slowing down, there are still a lot of people out there tapping away on their word processors on the subject.
Hell, one of the biggest-selling self-published authors of all times rode a fanged wave into $2 million dollars worth of sales based on a young adult vampire romance with an urban setting. Her name was Amanda Hocking and she was averaging 9,000 sales a day at one point less than two years ago. Last year she signed a four-book publishing deal for another $2 million dollars. All because of vampires.
Still, vampire fiction is like hair metal. It started out strong with some original voices, but as soon as there was money to be made, people began cobbling together whatever they could to fit the mold enough to cash in. The result is some very, very shoddy work. We don't know for a fact that this was Given's motive to write Last Rites, but we do know that we threw up our hands in frustration after reading roughly 50 pages. Here are the sins you need to avoid when writing about the nosferatu.
One of the first clues we got that we weren't going to like Last Rites was that the main character was named Karl Vincent... clearly an homage to both Boris Karloff and Vincent Price. You can't even get through the second chapter without meeting Don Chaney Jr. (That's even lazier) and Frankie Langella (Oh, come on...you're not even fucking trying, are you?).
We know what the mind-set is, and it is just as annoying as a person who goes on and on about the time they met Johnny Cash. You're hoping we will associate your work with other famous scarefests, but trust us, that association has to be earned. Or perhaps the goal is simply to harness the power of those names. Well, if you want a guide, go read 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. His antagonists are Kurt Barlow and Richard Straker. Do you see how King's used just the right combination of stress and switcheroo to make you think of Boris Karloff and Bram Stoker? It's subtle, but it's there.
Of course, the other thing you might be doing is showing off your knowledge of old horror movies, in which case you need to get way more hipster douchebag and obscure. These names are total mainstream, and it makes you look lazy. Either pull King's trick, or if you can't then just skim through a phone book until you find a good name.