One of the disadvantages of being an English writer in France is the difficulty of getting books to read. I could read in French I suppose, but it takes more energy and feels a bit like peering at a world through frosted glass. In other words, I'd rather not. The internet is the obvious solution, but there are drawbacks there too. What I really miss is being able to wander into a good bookshop, browse and then make a chance purchase.
Now, there are some excellent bookshops in Rouen and I do wander around in them from time to time, if only to soak up the atmosphere. But today I decided I really ought to go and thoroughly explore the amazing children's section at L'Armitière with a view to assessing the market as it is today, on the shelf, regardless of any differences there may be between English-language and French publishing. What I found surprised me.
It turns out that most of the books there are translated from English anyway, and many of the others are trying to look like they are. And do you know what? It's not just hype, there really are hoards of vampires in bookstores these days, whole belfries of them! Though Transylvania is right out – modern vampires live mostly in the suburbs.
The weird thing is -- even though there was a special stand for vampire books -- I didn't see anything by Stephanie Meyer there. Though I did come away rather feeling that I had, if you see what I mean.
Whatever happened to vampires? They really have gone soft, haven't they? Now they are the toothbrushing playthings of adolescent female fantasy, I really feel the lack of good old fashioned, blood-hungry monsters. Not that I want to write about them particularly, but we need to leave something in the shadows, otherwise how will we scare our children? And it's no good looking to werewolves, zombies or fallen angels, they're just as dreamy and pretend-dangerous these days.
With one eye (as always) on the future, I collect romantic comedy plot ideas for adult fiction. Coming home from my visit to the vampire's air conditioned, bookish lair, something silly in that line occurred to me. A story about a shy, socially awkward young man who never has any luck with women, and who hides himself away to study all the faux-bestial anti-heroes in paranormal teen fiction. He emerges a year later, deathly pale from lack of sunlight and over-wise from all those glimpses into the secret desires of female writers. He learns how to cook, gets a job in publishing, and then goes on the rampage, carelessly letting his eighteenth century manners show beneath his leather jacket and simpering, 'Mon amour, I vish to slay you mercilessly, but for now, I sink I vill just hold your hand, no?'