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YA Novels You Should Be Reading: Vampires

The reason for starting with vampires in YA fiction is two-fold – the impact of Twilight and the influence it has had on YA, and vampires are a classic “monster” in YA fiction. From soulless killers, to vampires that sparkle, to high school vampires – as a literary trope, they have been explored and celebrated.

Adult fiction that has led to the adoption of vampires in YA novels must include such authors as Anne Rice, Laurell K Hamilton, Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson.

The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced teenagers to the idea of, not only slaying the undead, but falling in love with them. The Lost Boys film gave us the slogan “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.”

1) Stephenie Meyer

The series of vampire novels written by Stephenie Meyer – comprising Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn – have been a literary phenomenon. The love story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen has captured the minds of teens everywhere, leading to film adaptations, bestseller status and a swathe of imitations.

2) L J Smith

This is the author of the Vampire Diaries, which has been televised, but a couple of her other lesser-known series also involve vampires. One is the Nightworld series that kicks off with Secret Vampire, and the other is the trilogy called Dark Visions which involves psychic vampirism.

3) Darren Shan

Shan’s novels take us away from vampires as romantic leads and back into the realms of creatures of the night. They have been enormously popular with both boys and girls, and are perhaps directed at middle grade through to YA, rather than the older readers attracted into vampire fiction by Twilight. A movie (called Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant) based on the first three books in the series was released.

4) P C and Kristin Cast

The Casts are a mother and daughter writing team, who have produced the House of Night series about Zoey Redbird. She is Marked by a vampire and heads off to the House of Night, a boarding school for all those who have been Marked and will be undergoing the Change into fully-fledged vampires. The House of Night novels are loaded with teen speak, and tap into those readers who enjoyed the school aspect of Harry Potter. As with the Twilight books, these have been reissued with coloured pages and have proved enormously popular, with over seven million printed in the States alone.

5) Annette Curtis Klause

We include this author, even though she has written only one vampire novel, to our knowledge – but it is a rather beautiful book and is often recommended to those seeking YA vampire tales. This novel is The Silver Kiss.

6) Will Hill

This gent exploded onto the scene in 2011 with Department 19, a book which combined vampires  with an official (and secret!) government department that aims to combat their threat. These vampires are deadly and rather terrifying! The second novel is due in 2012, building on the success of the first which was the best-selling YA hardback for a debut author in 2011.

7) Rachel Caine

Caine is absolutely prolific, and her work includes the Morganville Vampire series, which begins with Glass Houses. The novels feature Claire Danvers, a student at Texas Prairie University, and her housemates in the vampire-controlled city of Morganville, Texas. There are currently 11 novels in print, and Caine is contracted for a further four, bringing the total in the series to 15. The rights have also been sold for TV/film.

8) Christopher Pike

Pike’s series of novels about Sita, the last vampire, was first published in the early 90s – there are six in the series, which begins with The Last Vampire. Some of the individual novels can be a little hard to source now, since they have been out of print, but the omnibus editions are readily available and well worth a read.

9) Richelle Mead

Mead (as with Caine) is also known for her adult urban fantasy novels. She has written the six volume series Vampire Academy: “Two races of vampires walk our world. One, the Moroi, are alive and wield elemental magical. The other, the Strigoi, are undead and evil–feeding on the innocent to survive.” There is also a spin-off series, the first of which is called Bloodlines.

10) Melissa de la Cruz

Our last author on this list wrote the ongoing Blue Bloods series: “Within New York City’s most elite families, there lurks a secret society of celebrated Americans whose ancestors sailed on the Mayflower. They are the powerful and the wealthy—and in fact, they are not human. They are the Blue Bloods, an ancient group of vampires. ” This has a different approach to vampires, and combines them with high society, in a series that would appeal to anyone who has enjoyed TV shows such as Gossip Girls.

There is our list of ten authors who have or are writing vampire YA novels.

Now we would love some input from our readers:

– Which of the authors above have you read? Which did you enjoy the most?

– Which authors have we missed from our ten that you think is a glaring omission?

– Do you still enjoy YA novels about vampires or do you think that this literary trope is a little tired?

YA Novels You Should Be Reading…

This is a little bit of an introduction post to a series of blog posts that Strange Chemistry shall be writing and publishing over the next few weeks.

We’re aware that a number of the people who are now following Strange Chemistry (both through this website and through Twitter) are more accustomed to reading adult novels, and so might appreciate a guide to some of the recent trends that have appeared within YA, and which authors are writing YA novels.

The tentative list is as follows:

1) Vampires

2) Werewolves

3) Zombies

4) Angels

5) Fae

6) Dystopian

7) High School Paranormal

8) Historical

9) Fantasy

10) Steampunk

11) Contemporary

12) Timeless Authors

If there are any other genres within YA that you would be keen to see, then just drop us a note in the comments! Look out for the first post on Vampire YA Fiction soon…

What’s in a Name?

The first task for the team on learning that Strange Chemistry was a green-lit project was to come up with the name of the imprint – the name that we are so proud to see heading up articles and forum discussions right now.

My first thought was: “Well, that’s easy! We’ll just spend an hour or so on that and emerge with something decent.”

No. That wasn’t how it worked. Definitely not. I know that I found my mind dwelling on what to call this new imprint. I thought about it during work hours when I was supposed to be doing accountancy-type work. I lay in bed and thought about it at night. Maybe the rest of the guys managed to get some sleep! We threw around ideas by email and phone. We looked at websites, which included forwarding far too many bad jokes and pictures – including ninja kittens. (That nearly became the name, by the way.)

I know I asked my friends what they would call it; I’m sure the rest of the team did as well. Since it was my first effort at something like this, I came up with some truly AWFUL blunders. My favourite of these? Copper Candle Books. Just looking at that name makes me giggle right now! (As I recall, Marc’s return text to that simply said: “Quite frightful.”)

Personally, I started to think “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, and that I didn’t really mind what it would be called… I’m glad the guys who I’ll be working alongside kept me focused on what it would mean to find a really great name.

The best advice I received on naming the imprint came from Marco – he who has been through this a few times before and produced the blistering and mind-bending Angry Robot. He said to think about what I wanted the name to convey. I struggled with this. What could possibly encapsulate all of my thoughts and feelings about YA fiction and about the novels that I wanted to publish?

So, instead, I thought about the people I would be trying to reach out to. Those people who are finding their identity. Those people who are seeking inclusivity, but often finding themselves on the outside looking in. Those people who are striving to forge their direction.

Those brilliant people – spiky, clever, full of attitude, independent. Those people who are compassionate, look after their own and demand the best from themselves and from others.

“Chemistry” was the word that came first – the concept of taking a child, and transforming them through many means into adulthood. Teens are in that phase of their life where they are neither one nor the other, and are influenced and inspired by utterly different things. Songs, film stars, events they’ve seen, families and friends, books they’ve read: everything leads a teen into the adult they will someday become. So Chemistry seemed to fit perfectly.

“Strange” was added to indicate the speculative nature of the work that will be on show from this imprint – the weird and wonderful worlds that we will come to explore together. From epic fantasy to space opera science fiction, from horror stories that leave the blood frozen to retellings of fairytales – I hope that all these and more will be published from the imprint that has now become Strange Chemistry.

It didn’t hurt at all that Strange Chemistry also made the whole team think about mad scientists!


P.S. One of my friends, upon hearing that I had the job with Strange Chemistry, baked me this amazing cake!

Announcing the Launch of … Strange Chemistry

Angry Robot, the award-winning publisher of SF, F and WTF are pleased to announce their newest venture – a sister imprint, Strange Chemistry, which will publish Young Adult genre fiction.

The imprint will launch in September 2012, with five titles appearing before the end of that year, before settling down to one book each month. Strange Chemistry will follow AR’s strategy of co-publishing its books simultaneously in the US and UK, in both eBook and paperback formats. Subject matter will include fantasy, science fiction, supernatural and horror, and as with Angry Robot the lines between those genres are likely to be very blurry at times.

Running the imprint will be Amanda Rutter, until recently best known as the tireless blogger behind genre review site, Floor-to-Ceiling Books. She takes up her position in Angry Robot’s headquarters in Nottingham on December 12th.

Angry Robot’s managing director Marc Gascoigne said: “The key to any truly successful genre imprint is the personality of its editors. In Amanda we’ve found the perfect mix of editing skills and wild, wild enthusiasm for the subject. Her first signings are already making us jump up and down in excitement. We’re beyond delighted to welcome her to the team.”

Amanda Rutter commented, “Angry Robot have quickly become one of the most exciting and challenging genre publishers around, and I have so much admiration for the types of novels that the guys are bringing to the world of speculative fiction. I’m absolutely thrilled that I have the opportunity to join the team, and create a list full of Young Adult novels that share the same sharpness and passion as those in the AR list.”