It's a thrill to have Nancy Gideon visit VampChix today! I consider her one of the pioneers in the vampire romance genre. If you haven't checked out her earlier works in the Midnight series, they are definitely worth finding! Nancy will give away a copy of MASKED BY MOONLIGHT to one person so leave her some love in the comments! [winner announced Wednesday]
“IT’S HARD TO KEEP A GOOD VAMPIRE (OR SHAPE-SHIFTER) SERIES DOWN”
by Nancy Gideon
It all started with a pair of tight shoes.
I’d put on my conference fine to have lunch with my then Zebra editor at RWA National in the early ‘90s. We chatted about my Dana Ransom westerns for a while then he asked if I’d ever thought about writing a vampire romance. Vampire romance?! (Remember, this was the early ‘90s and that first big wave of paranormals had yet to hit the industry.) Hmmm. I told him I’d think about it.
To give my aching dogs a rest, I snuck back to my hotel room to stretch out, basking in the silence and wiggling my toes. Vampire romance . . .
Nostalgia took hold as I shut my eyes to enjoy the A/C chill, remembering how I’d rushed home from junior high (okay, don’t stop to do the math, please!) to watch the campy vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, how I’d lose myself in the musty hallways of Gothic romances until I discovered the delicious shivers of Stephen King. I confess. I’ve always been a paranormal junkie.
Vampire romance . . . What if I combined my love of historicals with my preternatural characters? What if I placed my tall, dark and ghoulish hero in the Regency period in England, in Post-Revolution France, in turn of the century New York? What if the stories followed a reluctant vampire who longed for the return of his humanity, gave him a human wife who would grow old while he remained ever youthful, a half-vampire daughter with an identity crisis, villainous friends who scheme to keep him walking the night shadows with them instead of finding a cure for his curse? What if he was the hero in more than one of the books? My imagination started painting the picture and in less than two hours, I caught up with my editor at a workshop to tell him that I not only had the idea for a vampire romance—I had a three book series. He blinked then told me to send it. The outlines were on his desk waiting for him when he got back from the conference. My MIDNIGHT series was born. I was a paranormal author!
Then Midnight Kiss was released in 1994 and was DOA. My suave and sexy hero had turned into a greenish zombie on a cover that was so frightful, it was shelved in horror by mistake. Reviewers loved it, but readers couldn’t find it anywhere. The next two came out with even more critical acclaim and award recognition, but they had the shelf life of a May fly. By the time readers found out about them, the only way they could be ordered was for $75.00 a book on E-Bay! With a regretful sigh, I put away my plans for continuing the series… but my readers didn’t. They wanted more books. They started a petition launched through Romantic Times Magazine. Remember, this was before social media, before Facebook and blogs and the Internet as we know it. There were only readers writing letters of protest, begging for a return of my characters and a book for Gerardo Pascale: a cry that didn’t fade away even as the paranormal trend disappeared, and years went by.
Then writer friend Linda Kichline did something amazing. She started her own small press called ImaJinn (imagine) Books, specializing in the paranormal. Maybe this could be a new home for my very pale hero and his friends? When I approached her about vampire romances, she said, no. Her market survey showed that readers didn’t want vampires. I shamelessly wheedled and finally she agreed to look at one of the books. And then she called and asked how many I’d like to write for her. The books came out in trade size with great covers and terrific reviews and more awards…and the readers, who rejoiced about finally having a book for bad boy villain Gerard, again, couldn’t get a hold of the books. Bookstores couldn’t order them through traditional avenues, problems with distributors and return policies bogged down shipments. As frustrated as the booksellers who couldn’t meet the demand, I buried my poor vampires once again and moved.
Then a funny thing called Twilight hit, and a whole new generation of readers started sinking their teeth into all things AB-negative, breathing life back into my series once again…through e-books.
This re-kindling (pun intended!) of interest leads me to contemplate the pros and cons of writing a series. The cons are dramatically outlined above: Series cancelled with plot, characters and angry readers left hanging First books in the series unavailable by the time later installments arrive. A glut of not-very-good-books quickly thrown on the shelves to meet the demand leading to a sudden shift in trends and a cooling publisher interest. Worth the risk? I think so.
The great thing about a paranormal series is that it can go on…forever! The characters never freaking die, or can be resurrected and good as new again. It never gets stale. It’s a paranormal! There are no conventions, no boundaries, no limits except the imagination and the writer’s ability to take the reader with them on that journey beyond belief. The trick is building. Building a huge platform from which to launch your stories. A brave new world, filled with unique and ever developing properties. Powerful characters with lots of issues, tons of baggage, and an endless supply of fascinating family and friends. I never met a secondary character I couldn’t make into a hero or heroine. It’s like Facebook…each one expands exponentially. You build on a readership base, on the momentum, on the anticipation, on the mythology. And don’t worry, like bellbottoms and platform shoes, romance trends cycle back around.
Readers love a series even more than writers, and they are LOYAL! Give them a reunion with characters they think of like family. Give them what they expect, then surprise them with more. Like a lover, never cheat on them or leave them unsatisfied. Think of a paranormal series like an addiction. A good one. It has less calories than chocolate, is more health conscious than smoking, is cheaper than the slots. Okay, running is probably better for you, but does anyone really look like they’re having a good time while doing it? And best of all, you don’t feel guilty for getting your friends hooked on it, too.
I’ve learned some things since those first three books were conceived in a strange hotel room. With my edgy new shape-shifter series for Pocket Books, the first three are coming out back-to-back-to-back so readers will be able to find them. Six have been sold so there’s plenty of time to settle in and get comfortable with the characters. And with electronic editions, they won’t disappear before interest does. And the covers represent the story…hot, hot, HOT. Not a greenish ghoulie in sight. And a taste of one, will lead to a hunger for all.
Why didn’t I think of that twenty years ago?
I think I’ll blame the shoes.
Nancy Gideon is the author of over fifty romance novels spanning the genre from historicals and series suspense to the paranormal, as well several horror movie screen plays. She’s also written under the pseudonyms Dana Ransom and Rosalyn West and is a “Career Achievement for Historical Adventure” winner. She works full time as a legal assistant and has a secret addiction to Net Flix.
Nancy’s MOONLIGHT series debuts with MASKED BY MOONLIGHT (May 25, 2010).
“Intriguing characters and zippy action,” says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “Gideon masters the tension required to keep her complex and engaging story moving.” He’s a deadly shape-shifter searching for his past and she’s a dedicated cop hiding from her own demons in a steamy New Orleans backdrop, where a criminal empire filled with treacherous alliances, a clan of ferocious shape-shifters searching for their prophesied leader, and an inescapable fate conspire to pull them apart. Troubled by secrets, torn by loyalties and tortured by a passion both irresistible and frightening, Max Savoie and Charlotte Caissie fight for an unexpected chance for happiness against odds impossible to beat.
Their romance and adventures continue in CHASED BY MOONLIGHT and CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT on June 29, 2010 and July 27, 2010. Visit me and learn more about the series at www.nancygideon.com.
Enjoy a little taste of Romance by Moonlight:
What’s your favorite thing or pet peeve about paranormal series you’ve read? What makes you want more or decide enough is enough?