The Curious Evolution of Jennifer K. Oliver
A stroll through the mindfields
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21st-Jun-2010 02:33 pm - Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies.
jenniferkoliver: (James Hook)
Vampires, werewolves, and zombies seem to have a really bad reputation at the moment. Which, OK, sounds like a bit of an understatement, but I don't mean literally, more literary. A handful of the magazines I've been checking out state firmly on their submission pages that they will not accept any vampires, werewolves, or zombies, and I mean they won't even look at the story, let alone read to the end with a biased eye. They simply reject and move on with nary a backwards glance.

This is perfectly within the rights of the magazine, but are people really so sick and tired of these fantasy and horror sub-genres? I know there's been a rash of teen vampire/werewolf clichéd plots in recent years, but there are still a lot of amazing authors out there turning out incredible pieces. To think that a decent writer's horse is stalled before the race even begins is more than a little disheartening, but not only that—isn't this risqué on the part of the publishers, who could be missing out on true gems? You hear the phrase "There's no such thing as an original idea" banded around the writing community, and yet people reinvent ideas and genres all the time. It's a shame vampires, werewolves, and zombies are given less chance to revamp, refresh, and rejuvenate a popular sub-genre and bring readers a new spin on an old, well-loved idea. I'm interested in fresh (or maybe that should be decaying, in the case of zombies) spins. Damnit, bring me the undead in all their slinking, salivating, growling glory! But give me something new as well, even if it's only a detail here, or a nudge there to some undiscovered territory.

That said, there's another side to every coin, and I can imagine how tedious it must be to wade through the same generic plots day in, day out. The general frustrations is apparent in a lot of submission guidelines. I can only sympathise with slush readers and editors.

Still, I believe even the most tried and tested idea can be shaken up and punched around to create a new twist, and I hope more people allow for that intelligent, well-written vampire, werewolf, and zombie fiction that's popping up all over the place—a bit like the undead themselves.

Vampire, Werewolf, and Zombie stories

  • Feature Development for Social Networking, by Benjamin Rosenbaum. What spreads just as fast as a zombie outbreak? News on social media. (Zombies)

  • Up, by James Hargrave. A brutal night-in-the-life. (Vampires)

  • Teeth, an anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, featuring stories by Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. (Vampires)

  • Finisterre, by Maria Deira. (Werewolves)

  • The Days of Flaming Motorcycles, by Catherynne M. Valente. (Zombies)

Will add to this list as I find more stories. I'm not including all novels and anthologies, as they're easy to search for on sites like Amazon.
jenniferkoliver: (Deftones | Chino)
What's with all the dimly lit rooms and overstuffed chairs? You'd think, by now, people in fictional universes - particularly those with advanced technology - would've figured out how to screw in a medium or high wattage light bulb, and work out exactly how much stuffing goes into an average-sized chair.

Or maybe this is a collective subconscious fear of ours: that underneath it all, we're dim and overstuffed. I don't know. But one thing I can imagine is a new circle of Dante's Hell in which bad people are forced to work in never-ending furniture warehouses, forever screwing low watt light bulbs into lamps and shoving, with bloody knuckles, clumps of foam into straining cushion covers.

And what about the emaciated chairs? Are they poured into fancy dresses and high-heel casters and sent out onto runways across the world, all in the name of fashion? Forced to diet even though you can already see their joints and springs through their fabric? I feel bad for these chairs.

Or perhaps the overstuffed chairs ate the emaciated chairs, and that's why they're overstuffed. Either way, somebody needs to do something about this.
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