Archive for July, 2012

Vampires Go Home

Copyright 2012 by Sherry Garland

When I heard about the novel, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, first I laughed, then I cried.  You see, about three years ago I read an article by a well-respected author of YA historical fiction. Like me, she had written some of the Scholastic Dear America historical series books and several award-winning single title YA historicals. Her article lamented the sad lack of interest in historical fiction today, which has gone from the peak of popularity in the 1990s to the valley of despair in the 2000s.  She jokingly made the comment that you couldn’t sell historical fiction today unless you put a vampire in the book. We laughed at the time, but now look what has happened — a whole new category of literature has been born: mash-up books. A mash-up book takes a famous historical novel or personage and creates a fantasy book involving vampires, werewolves, zombies or other horrid creatures. Other examples include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Little Vampire Women and Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter, among many others.

I’ll admit that back when I was a kid and teenager I loved those old horror movies. And I’ll even admit that I wasn’t very interested in history. Maybe combing the two — history and horror — was inevitable.  And I guess I should be glad that any historical fiction is selling, but dern it, this whole mash-up thing makes me fighting mad.  Writing historical fiction is not easy.  It takes me at least a year to do the research, and I always make sure that the historical facts are accurate.  When I see these mash-up books, I feel as if someone has slapped me in the face.  As if someone is saying, facts be damned, the only purpose of any novel is to entertain, by any means necessary.  And, yeah, I don’t like what they did to Sherlock Holmes, either.

I don’t care if YA authors write about vampires and werewolves and zombies; I don’t care if they write about dystopian societies. But, I don’t like people messing with my beloved historical fiction genre.  I can only hope that someday the creatures of the night will crawl back into their lairs and coffins and tombs, and let real people living in real historical periods return, because when you get down to it, there is really nothing in a fantasy that can compare with the horrors of real life.


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