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Friday, November 16, 2012

The Next Big Thing in Paranormal Literature By Evelyn Burke

In 2005, Little, Brown and Company released a paranormal fantasy book called Twilight by American author Stephenie Meyer. It was an instant bestseller, appearing at number five on the New York Times Bestseller List within a month of hitting the shelves and soon reaching number one. The three sequels sold just as well and in November 2008, Twilight hit the big screen, creating even more of a cult following and thrusting vampires to the forefront of the paranormal romance sub genre. Soon the literary world was flooded with vampires and every other book featured a young girl falling for an undead love interest with a penchant for blood but a heart of gold. It reached the stage where universities started offering courses in vampire-centered literature and millions of Twilight clones appeared in bookshops. The question is, once the public’s obsession with vampires has finally died down, what will the next major trend in paranormal literature be? Will it be defined by a single book or movie or will something else shape the landscape of this genre?

Could It Be Mermaids?
In 2011, a number of magazines including Entertainment Weekly, speculated that mermaids would be the next big thing in film and literature. Literary critics claimed that the public would be looking for a new breed of semi-human creature to write about after the interest in vampires finally began to dip and suggested that mermaids might be a good replacement, as they are similar to vampires in a number of ways. Firstly both creatures can easily be used by a writer in order to pose questions about the nature of lust. In Twilight, Meyer used the main character’s attraction to a vampire to bring across as idea of the forbidden nature of desire adding to its intensity. The same could be done with a mermaid because according to mythology, these creatures resemble beautiful women but often have destructive hidden agendas, luring sailors to their doom and tricking ships onto the rocks. Secondly mermaids are similar to the vampires portrayed in Twilight in that they contain elements of both beauty and danger. Questions about the nature of relationships with potentially unsuitable partners could be posed and the idea that somebody can overcome innate immorality through love could be explored.

Gateway Fantasies
Research presented at a recent conference held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators suggests that gateway fantasies might be the next major trend in children’s books. A gateway fantasy is a story featuring a magical world that is connected to our own by way of a portal or gateway. Is it possible that this concept might also become more prevalent in adult literature? During the current financial crisis, many readers are seeking escapism and might be drawn to books where the main character is able to temporarily leave this world behind. With JK Rowling now no longer writing Harry Potter books, there is a gap in the market for gateway fantasy books that appeal to both children and adults. Even though the first Potter book was first published over a decade ago, it is still just as popular today, with references to it scattered throughout the media and websites offering online deals on a range of related merchandise, meaning that this sub genre is definitely capable of achieving significant commercial success.

Witches and Wiccans 
A number of literary agents are now including ‘books about witches’ in the list of things that they are looking for and stories in which a Wiccan or white witch is the main character are becoming increasingly popular. White witches are not dissimilar to the well-intentioned vampires portrayed in Twilight in that they raise questions about whether a supernatural life form that is stereotypically portrayed as being evil can be capable of behaving in a heroic, ethically sound manner. This means that it would not be a gigantic leap for fans of vampire books to become hooked on books about witches.

Final Thoughts
The probability of any of these trends catching on is difficult to predict; after all, who would have thought that Fifty Shades of Grey would have catapulted erotica into the mainstream in the way that it did? Perhaps paranormal fiction will simply decline in popularity and a new genre will become popular in its place. One thing is for sure though; vampires’ days are numbered. There are only so many clones of Twilight that can be produced making it high time writers with an interest in the paranormal focused their attention elsewhere.

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I just want to give a special thank you to Evelyn for writing such an awesome piece for the blog. The topic of what will be next for paranormal literature is definitely a big topic in the industry and more than likely on everyones minds. I know I have definitely thought about it before and we still don't truly know what the next thing is. It seems right now the only new thing is every author in town is getting a movie deal lol. No complaints here about that, though =). Again, a HUGE thank you from all the viewers of Book Bite Reviews and myself to Evelyn!!

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