Vampires and Christian Fiction – Haunt of Jackals Tour, Day 1

The Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour is featuring Haunt of Jackals, book two of the Jerusalem Undead Trilogy, Eric Wilson‘s supernatural suspense. Read, “vampire story.”

Apparently this kind of dark speculative fiction is the new trend in Christian publishing, perhaps spurred by Mormon author Stephenie Meyer’s huge success with the Twilight books. But I’ll be honest—I’m puzzled by this trend.

When the Lord of the Rings movies came out, it seemed to have no impact on the kinds of books publishing houses acquired. Acquisition editor and agent alike turned a “read this before” eye to stories that seemed remotely similar to Tolkien’s version of the hero’s journey.

Was this because no new epic fantasy had made it big, breaking out of the fantasy niche in the general market, since Rings? Perhaps.

But I am puzzled as to why Christian publishing houses are now willing to pursue the dark side of fantasy, even with the Twilight success. After all, the “typical” buyer of Christian fiction hardly seems to fit the target audience of dark fantasy.

Did they think the numbers of teenage girls and women who flocked to Twilight would translate into big numbers buying demon-vampire stories? If so, then I think there was a misunderstanding. As near as I can tell, the Twilight books are popular because of their forbidden love theme—love (or more accurately, lust) for the bad boy and in turn, the bad boy restraining his badness for the sake of his love.

John Olson’s vampireless vampire story Shade and Eric Wilson’s Jerusalem Undead Trilogy are far from the Stephenie Meyer type vampire story.

But will the fans of the Dracula type vampire story be inclined to pick up the Christian versions—stories that ascribe supernatural demonic activity to the existence of vampires?

How many readers looking for a good vampire story will go to the Christian fiction aisle of their local book store, or to a Christian store? In short, Christian vampire stories seem like they could languish for lack of an audience.

Ironically, this is the same argument I’ve heard against fantasy for years. So what’s different about vampire stories? I mean, they are popular in the secular culture, though their popularity may now be declining.

The difference in my mind is one of degree or emphasis. In epic fantasy the central motif is the struggle between good and evil. Certainly there are dark sections of such a story. The Harry Potter series had several books that fell under the tag of “dark.” The Lord of the Rings had large sections, especially in the final book, that were dark, as evil appeared to be winning.

The good, however much an underdog, continued to struggle, and there was hope in that struggle. This struggle and the equally important underdog role of the forces of good seem to resonate with people across cultural and generational and gender lines.

Is the same true with vampire stories? You tell me. I’ll be interested in your thoughts.

Also, be sure to check out what others on the tour for Haunt of Jackals are saying about the book and related topics.

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