Trend Watch: Young Adult Vampires Rise from the Dead

Posted by Sharon on August 10, 2020


They’re baaaaaaack! Young adult vampires, that is. Fifteen years after Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight took the world by storm, we’re seeing a brand-new wave of vampire fiction this year (including a return to Forks, Washington, with Meyer’s Midnight Sun). 

Of course, vampires never really go out of fashion, do they? Ever since Bram Stoker’s Dracula sank its fangs into the popular imagination more than a century ago, writers have used the figure of the vampire to explore fear, sexuality, and other taboo topics. What’s interesting is seeing when and how these cycles of readerly interest in vampires reemerge—and what the vampires look like each time.

In that vein (sorry, we couldn’t resist), we’ve asked the creators of some of 2020’s biggest vampire books to tell us how they approached reviving this trend and why they believe we’re currently witnessing a vampire renaissance in young adult fiction.
 


Stephenie Meyer, author of Midnight Sun

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Goodreads: Tell us a little bit about returning to this series after all this time. Why did you decide it was the right time, and what were you hoping to explore by showing the events of Twilight through Edward’s eyes?

Stephenie Meyer: It wasn’t exactly a return after a long time away. I’ve been working on Midnight Sun off and on this whole time. It was just a very, very slow story. Of course, there are real-life breaks that interrupt any story, and I’ve definitely had a ton of those to contend with over such a long period of time, but mainly it was just the story itself. Some stories grab you by the hand and drag you along so quickly you can’t type fast enough. And some stories begrudge you Every. Single. Word. This has been the most difficult writing experience I’ve ever had.
 
This was the right time to publish because this was when I finally managed to finish. Seriously, I put the publishing process in motion the very second I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t want any more delays. I was well aware that some people were always hoping I’d finally get it done.
 
In the beginning, I started this project to see the world I’d created through the eyes of a vampire. I wanted to experience the story without the human baggage. There’s a kind of high in writing, in being the apex predator for a while.

GR: Why do you think we’re starting to see a resurgence in YA vampire books right now?

SM: Vampires do seem to come and go in cycles. It must have been long enough since the last cycle that we need them again. I imagine we must be getting some specific need addressed with their mythology, but I couldn’t say exactly what it is.

For me, it was the idea of immortality, of power, of still being inside the world, but over it. Out of all the monsters storytellers have created for our horror stories, very few other villains are so enticing. Vampires are often beautiful, wise, sophisticated, and always more powerful than we are. Perhaps that’s why they appeal to YA readers. Being a teenager usually includes a feeling of powerlessness, of not being able to assert your personality freely. Vampirism would cure that.

GR: What do you hope to see more of from YA vampire fiction in the future?

SM: I have no specific expectations for YA vampire fiction at all. I hope talented writers get a chance to share their stories on whatever subjects move them. Selfishly, I hope their stories move me, too, and that I can totally escape into them. I really don’t care if it’s vampires, witches, steampunk balloon aeronauts, or totally normal human people. Just keep telling stories to me, please.
 

Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun is available now in the U.S.

 


Renée Ahdieh, author of The Damned

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Goodreads: Tell us a little bit about the vampires in your book series. Were there any particular themes you were hoping to explore through the figure of the vampire?

Renée Ahdieh: I took a lot of inspiration from some of my favorite vampire novels, most obviously Anne Rice’s work. My vampires are dangerous, hypnotic, and dynamic, but I also wanted to make them layered, especially with respect to emotion and conflict. For me, I feel like this brings out their human qualities that much more. I also loved the idea of vampires being able to peer behind the curtain of their victims’ minds while they drank, which is something that always caught my attention in Anne Rice’s novels.
 
I think readers enjoy being absorbed into a story about vampires because the idea of immortality—especially an immortality achieved by consuming the blood of the living—is tantalizing, but I also think it’s because it begs the question: What is the meaning of life? Our mortal lives are temporary, and it makes everything we do and want and wish and feel have a sense of urgency behind it. What happens when time is no longer an obstacle? What does an immortal being want? And, most important, can love—in all its forms—last beyond time?

GR: Why do you think we’re starting to see a resurgence in YA vampire books right now?

RA: I think vampires have never really gone away in books and media. I do believe there was a time when there seemed to be an overabundance of the undead, but I think the resurgence has a lot to do with the fact that we are facing a time unlike any in recent memory. Vampires are the ultimate in escapism, and I think YA has always enjoyed being at the vanguard of these cultural moments. It’s something I love about writing for teens. Everything is new and fresh and all-consuming when you’re this age. It blends so nicely with creatures for whom the world and its myriad experiences are heightened in such delicious ways.

GR: What do you hope to see more of from YA vampire fiction in the future?

RA: I’m so thrilled to see more vampires and supernatural creatures in books moving forward, but I’m even more excited to see vampires from all different walks of life and all over the world. This was what I yearned for as a child: stories that transported me to another time and place while emphasizing that any teenager from anywhere could be its protagonist—that we all can be kings or princesses or werewolves or vampires.
 

Renée Ahdieh’s The Damned is available now in the U.S.

  


Caleb Roehrig, author of The Fell of Dark

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Goodreads: Tell us a little bit about the vampires in your book. Were there any particular themes you were hoping to explore through the figure of the vampire?

Caleb Roehrig: One of the first decisions I made when drafting The Fell of Dark was that the humans in my universe would be fully aware of the existence of vampires—and highly annoyed about it, to boot. In revisiting the genre that launched young adult literature as we know it today, I felt my smartest course of action would be to tackle its defining elements head-on, Scream-style. Since many of my readers would be on the lookout for them already, why play coy about familiar tropes when I could instead either subvert them, celebrate them, or turn them into running gags?

Immortal creatures present numerous thematic possibilities, but the one I wanted to explore most with The Fell of Dark was the cyclical nature of history, and the significance of living memory. What does it mean for humankind that we lose our eyewitnesses to the past every hundred years or so? Why must we consistently relearn old lessons? What if we existed side by side with beings that had lived through all the events we’ve either forgotten or refused to remember?
         
And how would those beings feel about us, for all of that?

GR: Why do you think we’re starting to see a resurgence in YA vampire books right now?

CR: The return of vampires to YA was inevitable. The success of the Twilight series changed the course of history for young adult literature, and influenced a great many of the authors who are writing for teens now. Ten years ago, the market was saturated with the undead, and paranormal stories were officially played out; but while adults may have vivid memories of Bella Swan and the Cullens, today’s high school students had only just been born when Stephanie Meyer’s debut hit the shelves. They deserve their own Twilight, their own Vampire Diaries, their own Buffy, and a lot of us have been waiting years for the right time to dive back into the coffin.
           
Vampires are a fixture in the folklore traditions of cultures around the world, and lend themselves perfectly to exploring issues like power, mortality, sexuality, and transformation, all of which young people confront every day. The current vampire renaissance is probably due partly to the cyclical nature of trends, partly to the nostalgia effect, and partly to the simple fact that the undead have been around in popular fiction for 150 years. They always return from the dead!

GR: What do you hope to see more of from YA vampire fiction in the future?

CR: Simply put, I hope that we see more of what we didn’t get to see the last time vampires were all the rage: diversity. The undead were unofficially “retired” as a trope before marginalized writers and readers really got a chance to see themselves centered in those stories, and this new wave of paranormal fiction is an opportunity to both revitalize the genre and make it fun, exciting, and—above all—relevant again!
 

Caleb Roehrig’s The Fell of Dark is available now in the U.S.

 


Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, editors of Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite

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Goodreads: Tell us a little bit about the vampires in your book. What are some of the key themes the contributing authors explore through the figure of the vampire?

Natalie C. Parker: I think one of the most interesting things about the stories in this collection is that every one of them uses vampire lore to confront questions of power and influence. Vampire mythology is steeped in tantalizing notions of dominance and surrender—the ancient vampire versus the traditional Gothic heroine, for example—but many of these stories take that dynamic and interrogate our base assumptions. Who have we imagined as Vampire and why? How does our imagination shift if we remove our white, heteronormative, able-bodied assumptions about vampires?

Zoraida Córdova: Exactly. I think our imagination is limitless if we just let ourselves explore what is beyond the norm. In teen fiction, the allure is the loneliness and rebellion of being on the brink of adulthood paired with a being representing power and immortality. But power looks different when you’re from a marginalized group. That’s why the vampire stories in this collection are so vital.

GR: Why do you think we’re starting to see a resurgence in YA vampire books right now?

ZC: There are a few factors to consider. The publishing industry is cyclical and trends will always return. However, just because a trend subsides, doesn’t mean that readers aren’t hungry for it. Vampire fiction has had many incarnations. I’ve never stopped being excited when I see a vampire novel outside of a big boom, or hear of a new show with vampires (i.e., What We Do in the Shadows).
 
NCP: I also think that especially for readers of YA, vampires offer all kinds of philosophical (and existential) questions to consider—Ideas about power and control, life and death, influence and responsibility. And on a practical level, YA readers change dramatically from one decade to the next. All the teens reading today are ready to be introduced to vampire stories of their very own. It’s the perfect time for a new cadre of vamps to take the stage!

GR: What do you hope to see more of from YA vampire fiction in the future?

ZC: I want to see myths outside of Europe! It’s not enough to take Dracula and give him a tan. Myths about blood-sucking monsters and immortals exist in so many cultures. I’d love to see writers from those backgrounds explore those myths.
 
NCP: Yes! I want to see vampires that defy and expand our expectations. I want to see vampires that not only break down gender binaries but demolish them entirely. I want to see vampires that aren’t stuck in the past but fight for a better future. I want to see vampires that make us better human beings.
 

Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker’s Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite will be available in the U.S. on September 22.


 
Don’t forget to add these thrilling reads to your Want to Read shelf, and tell us about your favorite young adult takes on vampire fiction in the comments below!



 

Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)

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Sushie || "Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers" -Isaac Asimov I've honestly never read a vampire book, but I did see them fade. It's interesting that they are coming back! I might have to start again. I'm adding a few of these that liked my interest to my to-reads, now!


message 2: by Lynn (new)

Lynn I think they are popular because they can be scary, romantic, or both.


Sushie || "Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers" -Isaac Asimov Yeah, that makes sense. I should give them a shot, though! XD


message 4: by Louie (new)

Louie This is a great post, I want to read all of these! The more vampires in books, the better! Also, I just finished reading L.J. Smith's Secret Vampire, so I'm pumped to read more paranormal YA!


message 5: by Emily (new)

Emily Inskip Looks like I did the right thing writing Curse of Blood and Midnight, then! Vampires will always have a place in my heart.


message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine haven't read any vampire books in a long time... glad they're making a comeback! :)


message 7: by Rose (new)

Rose  I'm reading the Chicagoland Vampires Series by Chloe Neill. I'm on book 3 and they are such a fun read! I highly recommend the series!


herta lorono teheran I love the Vampire´s books. They are mysterious, seductive, dangerous, and today they can feel love.


message 9: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Luhellier I'm reading The Damned by Renee Ahdieh and all I can say is OMG! It's such a great series, and has all my favorite things that make a good fantasy story! I love how the Vampires are portrayed in this series, it's a must read! 🧛‍♂️


message 10: by jon (new)

jon Louie wrote: "This is a great post, I want to read all of these! The more vampires in books, the better! Also, I just finished reading L.J. Smith's Secret Vampire, so I'm pumped to r..."

Haha, I share your sentiment. I do want to read all of them. I'm also pumped after reading "Vampires Of Twilight Castle I wonder if any of them will top it.


message 11: by jon (new)

jon Heidi wrote: "I'm reading The Damned by Renee Ahdieh and all I can say is OMG! It's such a great series, and has all my favorite things that make a good fantasy story! I love how the Vampires are portrayed in th..."

Oh I anticipate your review. I'm seeing this book all over my instagram. I don't know the author and I'm always wary of trying new authors. Though I'm more open to it now having read Vampires Of Twilight Castle I wonder if I will be entertained as much as I was while reading this.


message 12: by jon (new)

jon Lynn wrote: "I think they are popular because they can be scary, romantic, or both."

Perhaps. I got that feeling while reading Vampires Of Twilight Castle (The Scarlet Incantatrix Book 1) by Asher Sharol


message 13: by Frivolous (new)

Frivolous Reader Didn't Meyer shelve the release of Midnight Sun because she was angry a beta reader copy leaked, or some such thing? Must admit I couldn't make it fifty pages into the first Twilight book, but much to my surprise did like The Host quite a bit. That I'd like the planned sequel to.

I'm a bit disappointed at how, well, banal the above vampire books sound. These authors should sit down and read Fevre Dream and The Madness Season for interesting takes, or The Historian for a work that hits on virtually every vampire trope, but still manages to make it work.


message 14: by Extinction (new)

Extinction Oh no... Not YA vampires... XD

(Just to clarify: I love pre-Twilight vampires)


message 15: by kittykat (Jo Tortitude) (last edited Aug 12, 2020 07:32AM) (new)

kittykat (Jo Tortitude) This topic always makes me laugh because vampires never went away in adult fiction... especially for INDIE authors and that includes plenty that write YA too... thank heaven for all the indie authors out there. Like always, it's such a shame that there is so little attention given the many incredible indie authors who write what they and readers want rather than what the trad industry allows/tells them to.

I recently read an entertaining and quite amusing adult UF series with vampire DJs, a vampire dog (!) and a recovering con artist that I highly recommend to vampire fans. The four short stories between books 1 & 2 are available to read for free on the authors's website

Wicked Game (WVMP Radio, #1) by Jeri Smith-Ready Crossroads (WVMP Radio, #1.1) by Jeri Smith-Ready Rave On (WVMP Radio, #1.2) by Jeri Smith-Ready When The Music's Over (WVMP Radio, #1.3) by Jeri Smith-Ready Last Request (WVMP Radio, #1.4) by Jeri Smith-Ready Bad to the Bone (WVMP Radio, #2) by Jeri Smith-Ready Bring on the Night (WVMP Radio, #3) by Jeri Smith-Ready Let It Bleed (WVMP Radio, #3.5) by Jeri Smith-Ready Lust for Life (WVMP Radio, #4) by Jeri Smith-Ready


message 16: by Christina (new)

Christina Vampires never left--not for true vampire lovers anyway.

I've been reading so many great indie YA with vampires. Even if trad publishing declares something dead, readers will find it elsewhere.


message 17: by Amanda (last edited Aug 12, 2020 08:06AM) (new)

Amanda Louie wrote: "This is a great post, I want to read all of these! The more vampires in books, the better! Also, I just finished reading L.J. Smith's Secret Vampire, so I'm pumped to r..."

The last one of the series is never going to come out, just to warn you.


message 18: by Rachael2 (last edited Aug 12, 2020 08:12AM) (new)

Rachael2 I'm not interested in any of those other ones besides Midnight Sun because of the covers. I can't stand skulls or skeletons and that shade of yellow on the teeth is just hideous. It's not so much judging a book by its cover, because I recognize the books could be great, it's just that I can't. stand. even holding. a cover that is repellent to me. It might be silly, but it's who I am.


message 19: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Turcios I love vampire's stories! But I really hate Twilight! I read the first one of Vampire Academy and that was enough for me ... maybe YA Vampires books are not for me .... :(


message 20: by Kay Dee (new)

Kay Dee hmm they never left. but ok.


message 21: by Lori S. (new)

Lori S. Silvia wrote: "I love vampire's stories! But I really hate Twilight! I read the first one of Vampire Academy and that was enough for me ... maybe YA Vampires books are not for me .... :("

Have you tried Tanya Huff? Her Victoria Nelson (first books is Blood Price) books are quite good and Henry Fitzroy is a joy as a vampire. Or maybe you'd like something set in the 1930s? PN Elrod's The Vampire Files, Volume 1 might peak your interest.


message 22: by Cari (last edited Aug 12, 2020 01:31PM) (new)

Cari Here are my recommendations for "old school"* vampire stories with a young/teenage female MC:
Companions of the Night
The Silver Kiss
Sunshine

*Not contemporary YA fantasy (HEA not guaranteed)
I really liked these! And they're stand-alones too.


kittykat (Jo Tortitude) Silvia wrote: "I love vampire's stories! But I really hate Twilight! I read the first one of Vampire Academy and that was enough for me ... maybe YA Vampires books are not for me .... :("

Could be. Have you read the iconic Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice? Although there are a couple of really questionable books in the series, it really is a staple of vampire fiction.


message 24: by Melliott (new)

Melliott Dammit, now I'm going to have to read more vamp books. I thought this trend was over!


Mimi-loves-her-books! I knew vampires would make a comeback. Im so excited! Long live the Cullens and the members of the Glass House!!!


message 26: by Marlene (last edited Aug 12, 2020 04:20PM) (new)


message 27: by Cody (new)

Cody I've oddly been on a vampire kick lately aswell... Maybe because I've been binging Van Helsing 🤔🩸


message 28: by Tom (new)

Tom Flood Ignore Meyer's vampire-lite sparklies and get back to the woman who started the whole revival back in '76. Anne Rice's powerful series begins with 'Interview With The Vampire' and it won't let you down till you're done with the lot. The most comprehensive vampire/dark fantasy series I've read in more recent times is Katri Cardew's 'Vampiris Sancti', a compendium of the world of vampires that's both funny, romantic, and sharp. http://breedlespublishing.com/


kittykat (Jo Tortitude) Tom wrote: "Ignore Meyer's vampire-lite sparklies and get back to the woman who started the whole revival back in '76. Anne Rice's powerful series begins with 'Interview With The Vampire' and it won't let you down till you're done with the lot..."

"vampire-lite sparklies" is quite a description lol! However, that is the least of the problems with those books.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm also a strong advocate for the Vampire Chronicles as an entire series and Anne Rice wrote a number of my top xx books of all time, including no.1. However, I disagree wholeheartedly with the "it won't let you down till you're done with the lot" considering Body Thief (book 4) is horrible (esp. as a follow up to the superb Queen Of The Damned) and Memnoch (book 5) is a pile of utter crap!


Medicalmalpracticelawyer I love the Vampire´s books.


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah A really amazing vampire series is 'Hell's Teeth' by James Fahy, and 'The Morganville Vampires' by Rachel Caine is another good series.


message 32: by Extinction (last edited Aug 13, 2020 06:19AM) (new)

Extinction I agree with everyone who mentioned Anne Rice previously.
Her vampire books are the best I personally came across thus far, beside the Vampire The Masquerade RPG. lol These are the best kind of vampires and vampire storytelling as a whole!


message 33: by Ben (new)

Ben Howard The Fell of Dark is AMAZING!


Mimi-loves-her-books! Sarah wrote: "A really amazing vampire series is 'Hell's Teeth' by James Fahy, and 'The Morganville Vampires' by Rachel Caine is another good series."

The Morganville Vampires series is the best. It is so underrated. Im glad that you're a fan!


message 35: by Madilynn (new)

Madilynn Oh my gosh Midnight Sun is the Best!!!!!!! I love every part of the book! It's soooooooooooo gooooood!


message 36: by Erica (new)

Erica YA vampire novels are pretty hit or miss for me. I prefer to read books by Laurell k. Hamilton or Anne Rice if i'm going for vampires. But since i've already read the other Twilight books I guess i'll be reading Midnight Sun.


message 37: by Nikki (new)

Nikki H im all for the vampires to return
And i loved midnight sun so much


message 38: by Billie (new)

Billie "Ever since Bram Stoker’s Dracula..."

I too love historical revisionism.

Snarkiness aside, I hope we see some Australian vampire YA soon!


message 39: by Iris (new)

Iris Billie wrote: ""Ever since Bram Stoker’s Dracula..."

I too love historical revisionism.

Snarkiness aside, I hope we see some Australian vampire YA soon!"


Write it.


message 40: by Holli (new)

Holli Vampires will never go out of style. Esp around Halloween. They are the things that go bump in the night. Our imagination asks us what would happen if we bumped into the unseen in the middle of the night. What happens when the world is asleep? The outcomes are endless.


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