Monday, October 26, 2009

Vampires: Not Dead Yet

Just when you thought the vampire craze might be winding down:

Headline has fought off competition from five other publishers to acquire the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair's hottest fiction title, The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Viking US, which is selling the book at the fair, has racked up "well over seven figures" in rights sales so far... The Discovery of Witches is aimed at the adult market and set in a world where four species—vampires, witches, demons and humans—co-exist. A young woman discovers a book in the Bodleian library with strange magical powers, changing her perception of the world around her, so that she can see the other species. Although there is a covenant preventing inter-species relationships, she falls in love with a vampire. (The Bookseller)
Publisher Jane Morpeth, who acquired the title, compared the style to Anne Rice and "the more romantic elements of Stephenie Meyer".

All this has got me thinking about the sorts of things I'd like to see in the vampire novels of tomorrow, and more specifically, what I'd like to see in the vampire novel queries we receive here at the agency:

1. A fresh take on the mythology (we've gone from garlic and staking to sparkling and dating; whatever you do, make it memorable).

2. Characters we haven't seen before (no more brooding vampires pining over the loss of their humanity, or senseless killing machines. Introduce us to someone new!)

3. A different kind of love (there's more to being undead than vampire-human relations. Let your vampires explore what's out there).

4. Vampires behaving badly (I love a well-mannered vamp as much as the next girl but part of me longs for the days when a vampire could throw caution to the wind and drink from whomever he/she damn well pleased).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The End of Quality in Entertainment

In Stephen King's latest column for EW he discusses the future of entertainment, and it's scary stuff:

What's going to happen to books?

E-book downloads now account for only 1.5% of the total market...but that was once true of compact discs, and if you've bought an actual vinyl record lately, you're in very select company. At this writing, best-selling hardcovers have settled at an e-book price point of about $10, but if you think e-book vendors such as Amazon and Sony are making a profit, you would be wrong. That's because the product is sold cheap for the same reason that dope pushers sell the product cheap, at least to begin with: to get you hooked. And if that seems a harsh comparison to you, then you don't understand what every Harry Potter and Twilight reader knows: Good stories are dope [ME: Amen!]. I love my Kindle, but what appears there has (so far) been backstopped by great publishers and layers of editing. If the e-book drives those guys out of business (or even into semiretirement), what happens to the quality? For that matter, who pays the advances? No one I talk to can answer these questions.

At least we aren't doing as bad as radio. Yikes!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom From the Editor Who Acquired Seabiscuit

If you haven't been following the "Agents & Editors: Q&A" series that Jofie Ferrari-Adler does for Poets & Writers, drop everything you're doing and get reading! These insightful interviews are a must for anyone who writes or works in publishing.

This month's interviewee is Jon Karp from Twelve.

My advice to writers would be to aggressively seek the truth—forget about your ego—and do one more draft than your agent asks you to. The writers who I have noticed being successful are the ones who are making their agents wait for that next draft. It's the authors who don't pursue that next project until they're sure it's the right one for them. It's the ones who turn down the easy overture from the publisher for the quickie book and wait to do the book that they can really commit to.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hollingshead on the Giller Prize Jury

We all know what Giller Prize judge Victoria Glendinning thinks about Canadian writers, but what do Canadian writers think about the jugdes, and the fact that two of the judges on the three-person jury are foreign? Greg Hollingshead, author of Bedlam and The Roaring Girl, weighs in:

I can understand that the Giller people will want a jury that has authority with readers. And I agree that when it comes to choosing the “best book,” foreign fiction writers are more likely to get it right (if that’s ever possible) than name recognition Canadians who don’t write fiction. But I wonder if any other country in the world would be pleased to have its literature judged by a jury with a majority of foreign authors on it. The Griffin Poetry Prize (mentioned in your editorial as setting a precedent) has foreign authors on its jury because they are awarding an International Prize as well as a Canadian Prize. You won’t find a Canadian or a Brit on any recent U.S. National Book Award jury, and you won’t find a Canadian or an American on any recent U.K. Man Booker Prize jury. The reason the Australia-Asia Literary Award includes non-Australians on its jury is that it is open to non-Australian authors. When are we going to have the confidence of our own cultural judgments?