Sex, Vampires and a million books sold

Meandering through the high streets of London, I keep seeing advertisements for new raunchy books that are ‘even steamier than 50 Shades of Grey’. Having (shamefully) read 50 Shades of Grey, more out of curiosity than anything, I don’t think my heart could take something that claims to make that look like a Victorian parlour novel. I mean, I may be lacking imagination here, but really how much more sex could one fit into a book short of the characters literally never leaving the sack?

I’m also – and I mean this with all due respect – intrigued as to how the author became inspired to write such a story off the back of Twilight and the rest of that series. Its such a leap – glittery, golden eyed and slightly camp vampires to an S&M fiend. Although I have to say, I do prefer the female lead of this to Bella. She has some gumption at least, a bit of spark. Bella always struck me as a bit of a wet flannel, even back in my teen years when I did actually enjoy the books.

My point here is not to have a go at people for reading these books or at the authors – they have every right to write what they want, and if the public like it then who are we to say they shouldn’t? I’m not a literature purist, even though I don’t think that either of the aforementioned series will be joining the ranks of the classics I think they have their own merit, even in providing entertainment for millions of people.

I’m just…confused. Bamboozled. Puzzled, one might say. I don’t understand where this influx of fascination with vampires and werewolves has come from. There’s always been stories, we’ve had myths for hundreds of years that have filtered into our novels…Dracula, anyone? Frankenstein? The Woman in Black? We’ve always been in love with the idea of the paranormal…to explain things we can’t understand, sometimes to scare our kids into behaving themselves! And to make life more exciting…but does life need to be made more exciting?

Is that why these romances all involve some kind of blood sucking element? Is love not exciting enough in itself any more? Maybe not, maybe everything has become so clicheed we have to add more to it, to force regular romance into garnering some interest. And that’s kind of sad, I think. Or maybe we just want more excitement, passion, fury than our own lives can currently give us.

Although, if we watch the news, we see all of these things every day. Excitement in people doing extraordinary, crazy things, like Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier…passion in the charities, the communities, passion displayed by regular people that forces them to fight so hard and so long for the things that are most important to them. These may not be the most adrenaline pumping things to hear of, but I think they are awe inspiring in their own way. Inspiring. And fury in the endless wars, crimes, assaults and sadness that batter our little world.

So perhaps its just the escape. To disappear for a while into a world where things like vampires and werewolves can exist, a world where romance isn’t torn painfully apart by the obstacles it faces. A more romantic, magical, crazy world, just for a little while. That’s why – despite the occasionally low brow genre – I think these books still deserve to be printed. I am by far not the biggest fan, but I think its better for people to have a little window of escape – to pretend, for a little while, that they are the heroine (or hero) of some fantastic love story. I don’t have the same problem with that that so many people do.

And the sex? Well, that’s just a bonus I guess.

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