My Dirty Little Secret
I wrote a vampire novel. There’s nothing like it to let your creativity flow. You’re unencumbered by reality and free to concentrate on characters. Unlike any other kind of fiction, the vampire novel immediately brings up all of the fundamental moral problems that face mortal humans.
What would you do to live forever? Would you become a serial killer?
How will you face the end of your life: fighting or surrendering?
Do you believe in heaven and hell, reincarnation, a greater universe than what we see? Are you secular, agnostic or atheist? What would you do if incontrovertible proof of an alternate reality walked up and said, “I vant to suck your blood.” Preferably stated with a Romanian accent.
Oh yeah, and since Bram Stoker, vampires have always been about sex. What’s not to like?
But a writer with a vampire novel is invariably branded as a loser chasing a tired cliché–unless they get the wild success of Stephen King, Anne Rice or Stephenie Meyer. Each of these writers produced wildly different flavors for that same soup–all tasty and all unique.
So what’s a writer to do with a vampire novel?
I’ve been warned by many pros over the years that your first novel is your brand, and forever after you must write in that field. One agent compared it to a retail store: if you arrive one day for coffee and donuts but the next day the store is a sit-down gourmet restaurant–well the coffee crowd won’t be coming back, and the gourmet crowd probably won’t ever go because they thought it was a donut shop.
So my dilemma? I’ve got my literary novel, In a Country Burning, about a lost young man caught up in Afghanistan’s war against Soviet occupation. I even traveled with the mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1988 to research it–truly putting my life on the line for this novel.
But it’s my first, and despite endless rewrites, tweaks and effort, The Fogel has slammed it, stating that I need to look at the fundamental plot. Not just an edit but a sit down and do-this-all-over from scratch deal.
But my vampire novel has a strong plot and unique story. It’s tight, probably because I wrote it for fun–probably because I didn’t risk my life for it.
So do I send it to The Fogel? Do I break all conventions and open up my store with a vampire novel and hope that the literary crowd will read In a Country Burning, my true passion, when it finally comes together?
Will my brand be forever tainted?
Or am I the brand. This blog is about breaking all the traditional publishing rules.