Because it's Halloween this month I'm doing *spooky*!
Let's talk about the Teen Paranormal Phenomenon of the past decade - VAMPIRES are dead, right?! Or are they? Many people might wish vampire novels were done, because it's been an extremely saturated market since the worldwide success of the Twilight series and all of it's off-shoots. Writers and readers immediately turned to a werewolf craze. Then zombies. Then faeries and mermaids and witches. Now it's Dystopian/Apocalyptic type stories of a science fiction nature.
But! Just yesterday I read about a major book deal for popular author, Holly Black (Spiderwick Chronicles) who sold a new vampire trilogy set in the future where vampires live in Cold Towns outside of the mainstream population. Vampire novels still sell--if they have a new twist.
In 2011, we're watching the Paranormal genre convolute into new directions. Teens with secret super-powers. Magical realism. Alternate realities. As well as Victorian Era paranormals and Steampunk.
Is the Paranormal Phenomenon an invention of the new Millennium? It might appear so, but when we take a minute to ponder, we realize that vampire, werewolf and ghost stories have been around for at least two hundred years beginning with authors Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Dracula).
Paranormal stories (especially when you include that yearning romance) is escapism at its best. When I was a kid the television show, Dark Shadows, which was about a vampire in a small town in Maine, was popular and now enjoys cult status. During the 1970s women--and teens!--gobbled up dark and stormy Gothic Romances by writers such as Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Or how about the dark and stormy novels Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. No vampires, to be sure, but they are creepy, and the love stories are twisted and delicious like any good vampire/werewolf love triangle today.The old and new generations aren't so different from each other after all!
Lia Keyes, a writer repped by Andrea Brown Literary asked her readers on Facebook whether they preferred the romances of Jane Austen's world or the dangerous romances of Charlotte and Emily Bronte.
Lia herself prefers the Bronte Sisters. She says, "It's the emotions they evoke in me as a reader. One is primal, the other is polite. Fiction is for giving into men that you wouldn't give the time of day in real life.
The Bronte darkness wormed its way into my teenage soul never to leave. It speaks to me on a primal level that I can't articulate. It's my form of horror story, and gives me chills that Austen's chandelier sparkle can't provide."
I agree. Jane Eyre is all about the danger and the obsession. A dark and almost magical tale that is pure fantasy. In stories, we have the opportunity to think about how we would react, how our own lives would be different, and what WE would do in the same situations. To me, the dark, paranormal romances contain fantasy on a much more personal level than a book about dragons or elves."
Here are a few new titles that bring great new twists to the Paranormal Genre and your insatiable teen reader:
VESPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell
It's the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset-visions that offer glimpses of the future.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she's not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.
THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michele Hodkin
Seventeen-year-old Mara cannot remember the accident that took the lives of three of her friends, but after moving from Rhode Island to Florida, finding love with Noah and more deaths, she realizes that uncovering something buried in her memory might save her family and her future.
THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab
The children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and a mysterious boy falls under suspicion as 16 year old Lexi searches for them. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know--about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of a nameless boy.
DIVERGENT by Veronica Wroth
In a future Chicago, Beatrice Prior must choose between five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
AFTER OBSESSION by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel
Aimee and Alan both have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can't stop their secrets from spilling out. They believe something--or someone--is haunting them, but they're wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it's neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. Alan's cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life--and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.
FROST by Marianna Baer
As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House. Frames mysteriously falling off walls, doors locking by themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And while Leena tries to play peacekeeper between her best friends and new roommate, soon the mysterious happenings in the dorm, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena's own mind . . . or in Frost House itself?
Kimberley Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well as two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013. She lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative Diary", a highly successful writing workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences. Please visit her website to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides.
Carolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist. Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association) reading list. She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Acts of Haiku."
To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to www.caroleedean.com.
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Back in New Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time.