News Item, July 12th, 2007: New York Magazine’s Vulture blog scooped up quite the deal story yesterday afternoon involving PEN/Hemingway award winner Justin Cronin. In a major change of direction – also involving a pseudonym, Jordan Ainsley – Cronin is working on a postapocalyptic vampire trilogy set in 2016. He’s already completed the first 400 pages of volume one, which was sold by Trident Media‘s Ellen Levine as a partial manuscript for what Vulture reports to be a whopping $3.75 million, 3-book deal… —mediabistro.com
UPDATE April 7th, 2009: Vampires rule: Twilight author Stephenie Meyer continues to dominate USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. Sales of her novels accounted for about 16% of all book sales tracked by the list in the first quarter of 2009. That’s about one in seven books. Top 5 sellers for the quarter:
1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
What is it with vampires, anyway? Why are we so fascinated by them—and why do the big media companies dole out the big bucks for their stories? This particular news item made me think back to 1991, when I found out that my brother Crash’s old roommate, A.C. Nightshade, had somehow managed to sell the film rights to his unpublished first novel for $666,000. Disney ponied up. I guess they thought all that Mickey Mouse crap was getting stale….
The book was called Vampirism Made Easy. It’s a rollicking tale of vampires and genies and teenage nymphomaniacs and I don’t know what the hell Disney was thinking, frankly. They never made it into a movie. But A.C. Nightshade went on to become the Dave Barry (or Jimmy Buffet) of supernatural horror novels, which is not a bad thing to be in this day and age. Think of that guy who did the folksy voice-over narration for Disney’s “Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar”—only instead of chuckling over the rascally escapades of a boy and his mountain lion cub, he’s narrating a story about a vampire girl with perky tits who rips the throat out of a sleeping wino while the wino’s scabby hairless Chihuahua tries to hump her leg. That’s A.C. Nightshade for you…. Every time he comes out with a new book it hits the New York Times Best Sellers List. That Disney deal must be looking like chump change to him now.
A.C. Nightshade’s real name is Jimmy Marrsden, by the way. The A.C. stands for Anti-Christ or Aleister Crowley, according to Jimmy—depending on which day you ask him about it. He’s never been able to decide on one or the other, so he uses both.
You’ll meet a youthful version of Jimmy—and a youthful version of Crash, too, of course—if you read Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg. Just to give you some idea of what that reading experience might be like, I’ve included a link to Chapter 12 in its entirety. It’s about horny high school kids, lesbian vampire movies, and an encounter with a fat, friendly psychic lady at a rumored whorehouse. My theory on vampires, developed in this chapter, is that we’re fascinated by them because we’ve all had encounters with their real-world equivalents—psychic vampires, who prey on the spirit of others in everyday life.
It seems to me that some of those psychic vampires are extremely well-paid, such as (just speculating here…) Justin Cronin, Stephenie Meyer, and my brother’s old friend and nemesis, A.C. Nightshade.