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Run Over By the Popular Book Bandwagon |  Anti-Reader Crime #3

Run Over By the Popular Book Bandwagon | Anti-Reader Crime #3

I’ll Take Mine with Glitter, Please

In 2005 a book came out that swiftly gained popularity.

No one had heard of the author, no other books had been written.

But it was read and passed on between so many people - friend, family, random person on the bus - so quickly that within 3 years a movie of it had been greenlighted, written, cast, shot and released to the public.

And the world went bonkers.

OK, not the whole world (I’m still working on that over-dramatic thing I may, sometimes, rarely, possibly do), but definitely the American world I was living in at the time went crazy.

Vampire crazy.

Yep, my dears. That was Twilight.

Swiftly followed by a string of books and subsequent movies that took our reading and movie-going and t-shirt wearing and music listening and-and-and-…by an emo-glittery storm.

Look, I par-took of the Team Edward/Team Jacob arguing hype as a (brilliant I might add) marketing promo for…which book I don’t remember and I’m not going to run down that path again.

People even today talk about reading them and loving them. Or reading them and hating them. But no matter what people seemed to feel about them –


"After Twilight, the emo-vampires rained down on the unsuspecting populace like glitter-mana from heaven… "

But Everyone Was Doing it!

Vampire popularity craze in writing is not new.

I grew up when Anne Rice’s Lestat was born and romping about the pages of various mass market paperbacks (remember those?) swaying to the rock of a bus, flipping in the breeze of a passing subway, reflecting the glow of a flashlight under the covers of someone whose parental figure just wouldn’t understand that they weren’t too young to read it.

(Oh, we so were! *sigh*)

Tom Cruise’s face wasn’t plastered on every surface everywhere after that movie came out. (The marketing was substantial, but not the marketing tsunami, self-will sucking beast that hit a decade and a half later.)

And he would totally die in the sunlight like an (arguably) good vampire should.

Even he thought so.

He questioned his humanity and humanity itself. He wasn’t just a nightmare killer that Dracula was portrayed as (kinda – that gets murky). He was a new kind of vampire. A self-reflecting one. (Though not a mirror reflecting one.) I mean, he still ate people. (Killed them, drank their blood, ya-da-ya-da)


That series brought about the idea that a vampire could be something different than what we thought of a vampire as before.

And the success of those books and those following movies spurred other books and movies.

Just like Twilight did.

And when I say spurred, I mean caused a ridiculous amount of writers to add vampires to everything.

After Twilight, the emo-vampires rained down on the unsuspecting populace like glitter-mana from heaven…

(…That sticks to everything! And you can’t get it off. And why does it always end up on my face. I think I have it all cleaned and *flash* on my eyebrow, my cheek, ick – my lip! How much of that crap have I eaten?)

(No. I’m not going to check if I am pooping like a unicorn.)

"Often, or should I say always, those things that get popular, wildly popular, have a unique and newness to them that had NOT been done before."

If Everyone Jumped Off A Bridge…

A buffet is delightful to many because of the variety. (And there is less of a guilt factor if you don’t clean your plate, or if you go back for fifths or sixth…)

Do I want a complicated yet delicately topped fish something-or-other?

Or do I just want the guy with the grumpy disposition to hack me off a slab of perfectly barely-not-bloody roast beef?

I could make the most ridiculously arrayed salad. Or have an enormous bowl of just peas, bacon-bits and ranch dressing.

(Some of you are nodding. You know what I’m talking about.)

But ultimately there is variety. Wide and vast and exciting.

Steaming up the sneeze guard, you take your delicious time picking out the build of your first plate. While not so secretly planning your seconds and thirds. And, of course, that doesn’t include dessert!

If you went to the buffet and there was only eggs benedict…

I mean, I loves me a good eggs benedict. And different variations of like bacon, add some avocado. Maybe one that has a little hot zing to it. Yum!

But it’s still all eggs benedict.

There’s only so much eggs benedict I can eat until I want a salad. Or a cup of soup. Or…


(I find I am doing less swooning in this blog and more yelling. Hmmm…I think I myself am a bit grumpy over this situation as well as the Roast Beef guy.)

(I mean he doesn’t even have a name. The ink slid into a melted garble of his name tag, cleared by splashes of sweat and meat juice under that weirdly red/gold heat lamp. How are they always the same? Tiny town to Las Vegas Strip – is there like an exclusive Roast Beef melting light store?)

OK, back to Twilight… (Arg.)

(I chose it as my example. I can only blame myself.)

(This is totally your fault.)

For years (I’m not kidding you, years) after the books and the movies and all the “will she ever quit biting her lips” (no) and “is it totally gross that he is so old and she is so young” (yes), and “are they dating in real-life” (I don’t care), and on and on – that for years when you went into a bookstore all you got was some version of eggs benedict.

Yep. Twilight Vampires everywhere.

I mean some writers tried to spruce it up with angels, or strange spirit creatures. But they all have the same story. They all had copied Twilight. They were writing Twilight tropes (More on tropes in the previous two blogs.)

You pick up that book and it feels like you’ve read it before - because you have.

It’s all eggs benedict.

And some of the copycats, the inspired writers, pulled off some great stories. Ones that were fantastic reads, and actually did better (In my opinion - please have yours. Please!) than Twilight ever got close to doing.

But it was still a really, really great tasting…eggs benedict.

What if I don’t want to read an ultra-supernatural, romance ladened, melodramatic tale of angst and questionable morals again?

What if I just really want a story about a dusty beef-cake and his dog Butch?

Riding the western range of yester-year, helping people in need on his internal quest to come to peace with a mistake he made decades before? Like a cowboy Batman.

(Oh crud, I may need to write that story now. *sigh*)

I Learned It By Watching You!

When things are really popular, it can be tempting to jump on a success bandwagon with the idea, or more realistically the hope, that it will bring a greater measure of success.

It happens to writers, too!

I wrote my own answer to the Twilight series. Born out of frustration and wanting to do a version of story that I would love. The altruistic answer to “I want a piece of the excitement pie too!”

And in some cases, when a writer is connected to a publishing house that wants in on that pie you can make some pretty fast money writing a book to add to the buffet-of-same.

When this all happens, a gargantuan wave of popularity swamps the story industry and pulls variety away like a sucking tide and then everyone grabs the same sandcastle-form bucket, plunks variations of the same old sandy song over and over again down the beach of creative ideas…

That, my dear darlings, is anti-reader crime #3: Wanting to be one of the cool people, too. Writers who write the popular story, a struggling surfer trying to catch the wave.

Most of those books don’t last. For whatever reason. Mostly it’s just bad or lazy writing.

Overdone tropes that aren’t uniquely or well written.

Characters in white rooms where you have to write the scenery since the author didn’t do it for you.

And why the cool bandwagon is so rough on writers is that they often are writing from a place outside themselves. Not from somewhere inside coming out.

If you are writing or doing anything creative for a reason outside yourself then what you produce is not what it could be. I mean, it may even be “good” and enjoyed by many.

But was your heart in it?

Often, or should I say always, those things that get popular, wildly popular, have a unique and newness to them that had NOT been done before.

A new take, way of looking at something. Or someone.

Anne Rice changed the idea of a vampire with Lestat.

Then Stephenie Meyer changed it again with Twilight.

Her very first book.

For the good or ill of us all.

A Diamond In The Rough

It will happen again.

As ominous as that sounds, yes. It will happen again. And it has.

Eat, Pray, Love. That went crazy everywhere. Julia Roberts didn’t help.


The Da Vinci Code. So many movie spin-offs alone! (I’m looking at you, National Treasure.)

Harry Potter.

Enough said.

And it will keep happening. So how do you find a good new book as the same-tsunami is raging?

Go deeper. Past the end-caps and bestseller lists.

Find the unique and clever and your next favorite author that “nobody’s ever heard of.”

And I put that in quotes because they aren’t mainstream. They aren’t big house published. They are this strange new, questionable thing called “indie published.”

They are the gems of writing back in the far reaches of your local cave-like bookstore, tucked between eye-catching authors. Or not on the shelves at all, since the quaint mom-and-pops with hand-chosen archives have retired into the chain-name book behemoths with shelves smeared with that month’s new best thing or those well-known big fonted names crowding end-caps and book displays alike.

If you want more than eggs benedict and big names, take a risk, try someone new. Find your next favorite author that will (hopefully) never let you down.

And How, Pray Tell, the Heck Do I Do That?

Fantastic question!

How do you find your next favorite author? Maybe delve into this strange and new world of indie?

“I have so many questions!” you shout.

Then swoon.

(OK, you’re right. Too soon.)

(I didn’t give it enough lead up. I just felt like I needed to get one in there. You’re right. I’ll wait and get it right next time.)

(I appreciate you.)

“I’ll rescue you, my dear!” I reply.

Over the next few weeks, let’s delve those depths and chink-chink out a couple ways to find your next author-gem beauty.

I’ll be fun.

See you next week!

Stephanie Writt

Writer, instructor, graphic artist and all around lovely soul, with a generous sense of humor (yes, I am totally writing this myself), takes delight in sharing her geeky knowledge and ridiculous joy in reading, writing and business. As the current Director of Operation at WMG Publishing Inc., she has the privilege and mischievous pleasure in writing this blog every week. 

Wanna Catch-up On Previous Blog Antics? (Yes)
Maybe Roast Beef Guy is actually a superhero in disguise? And greasy and disgruntled is just a front? Yeah, I'm seeing it now. I wonder what his secret superpower is...

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