The first was the Charlaine Harris lecture. She’s done fantastically well with her vampire novels, which were adapted into a series called True Blood. The second was the panel I moderated: The Nature of the Modern Zombie.
But here’s the big difference: Charlaine’s vampire-oriented panel had far more women in the audience than men. Our zombie panel crowd was more men than women, and some of them were very young men. In fact, I’d say the median age of the attendees was probably close to twenty-years old if you cut out about three or four convention veterans from the data set.
This reflects a fundamental trend in the two genres. Since Dracula, there’s been a lot of romance in vampire novels, and Meyer’s Twilight put the pedal to the metal on the vampire-human romance. There are a lot of knock-offs that went with this theme. It’s about undying (literally) love.
But zombies are about war. Whether it’s a first person shooter game, or the Walking Dead, zombies are getting mowed down with machine guns, beaten with clubs and shot with arrows. There is absolutely nothing romantic about the fight.
The good zombie movies and shows do spend a lot of time studying human social interaction under extreme pressure, but their subjects are making battlefield decisions. Should they kill the loved one who got bit? Should they make a run down that street or through that warehouse? Who should they select as the alpha male to lead them to safety?
The message I take here is that Vampire Road is really more for the zombie crowd than the vampire crowd. While there are romances between humans, there are no vampire-human romances. Vampire Road is a novel of war, of humans under extreme pressure. It is the story of a desperate fight to save family and home, to somehow survive an overwhelming siege.
So Vampire Road won’t be for the Twilight crowd or even the Amanda Hocking crowd. I’d love to write for them because they’re a lucrative market, but it just isn’t me, and I suspect that those avid readers would sense my insincerity and the novel would sell poorly.
I’d rather write something I truly enjoy reading myself and sell to a smaller, enthusiastic audience.