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I am very pleased to welcome Matt Haig to Book Chick City today to help celebrate my All Hallows Eve event. Matt is the author of “The Radleys“, a funny but dark young adult crossover about a family of vampires.
I read and reviewed “The Radleys” a few months ago for my 10 Fun Days of YA Fiction and thoroughly enjoyed it. Luckily, you have the chance to win a copy of this fab book at the end of Matt’s post, so make sure you enter!
In Defence of Vampires
I have been very kindly asked by Carolyn to write a piece for her rather brilliant blog Book Chick City to mark the occasion of Halloween and so I thought I’d do something on the subject of vampires.
Now, I have written about a family of bloodsuckers in my novel The Radleys, and I have to say that it’s a very weird time to have a book about vampires coming out. As the great author Keith Gray put it in his review of The Radleys in the Guardian, ‘Matt Haig must be getting pretty weary of the eye-rolling and knowing winks he receives whenever he mentions that his latest novel deals with vampires. He probably has to wear a T-shirt bearing the slogan “No, I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon!”‘
And the first thing to say is that it’s true I didn’t jump on the bandwagon, because in 2007, when I started The Radleys, there wasn’t much of a bandwagon to jump onto. I hadn’t heard of Stephanie Meyer and True Blood was a long way off. But I haven’t gone to the lengths of having a T-shirt designed in my defence. And the second thing to say is, really, vampires become popular at certain times for certain reasons, and I don’t think it has to do with trends. It goes deeper than that.
Okay, here’s the spooky Halloweeny bit.
Jungian psychologists have looked into vampire stories through history and they worked out that around a thousand years ago different cultures around the world all started coming up with vampire stories. Yeah, I know the word vampire didn’t come about until the 1800s but these stories were all about bloodsuckers who had recognisable vampire traits such as being scared of sunlight. And the weird thing is these cultures in differing, isolated parts of Europe and Asia, had no knowledge or contact with each other.
So vampires lurk deep in our dreams and collective unconscious, waiting for the right moment to bite.
And of course, now they are biting left, right and centre. In fact, I would like to say here and now that I don’t think vampires are a ‘trend’ any more. I think they’ve gone beyond that. They’re a genre all to themselves. Like romcoms or westerns.
And even though personally I don’t like a lot of fang-lit (the Mills and Boon for goths stuff), I love vampires. Seriously, can vampires or zombies even compare. Vampires are so attractive because they are our secret selves – they are who we want to be. Sexy, irresistible, amoral, immortal. Like Lord Byron, one of the vampires in The Radleys, they are ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. In the fantasy genre, I don’t think anything has ever come close to the perfection of a vampire. They represent and tap into so many things – forbidden desires, fears of mortality, and that battle of selfish instinct versus duty we all feel.When I was younger I wanted to be David (the Kiefer Sutherland character) in The Lost Boys. I love those eighties vampire films. Near Dark is another classic.
With this story the thing that got me started was a single idea – what would it be like to grow up as a normal human being and be then told you are actually a vampire. Plus, I loved the idea of these parents who were trying to do best for their kids by raising them normally, but actually by depriving them of blood they are making things worse. I thought it would be fun to have these vampires who didn’t want to be vampires, and who tried very hard to live a normal human lifestyle, doing middle class things like going to the theatre and attending book groups, and what the consequences would be. It’s always what makes a character interesting, that tug-of-war between selfish instinct and the desire to do the right thing.
And vampires – however overused they may be – remain the absolutely perfect metaphor for this internal struggle within all of us. Between good and bad, fun and boredom, and the desire to live life fully versus the need to be sensible.
This is why vampires, no matter how many crucifixes or hawthorn stakes you throw at them, will never die.
You can find out more about Matt and his books here:
Now onto the fab GIVEAWAY!
I have TWO copies of “The Radleys” up for grabs – ONE copy to a UK winner and ONE copy to an INTERNATIONAL winner.
All you have to do to enter is the following:
3. Leave a comment for the author
4. One entry per person please
This giveaway ends 31st Oct!