By Scott Bury
What’s the next big thing in fantasy publishing?
The current vampire craze, most lately spurred by the Twilight phenomenon (whether you like it or not) has to be ending soon. It’s been going on too long.
The success of Twilight spurred a raft of knock-offs, predictably: the Thirst series of books comes to mind, but there are hundreds of others. Fan fiction (Fifty Shades of Grey began as Twilight fan fiction; I guess it’s true that spin-offs cannot be better than the original), parodies and shameless rip-offs. Then there are the TV shows, True Blood (at least it has a good theme song) and The Vampire Diaries.
There have been other waves of vampire popularity. There were a bunch of vampire books and movies in the 60s with the success of the campy Dark Shadows TV show. In the mid-70s, the vampire craze reached across media and into different age demographics, with movies like Dracula: A Love Story and a comic book I remember fondly, Tomb of Dracula.
Both Twilight and the Underworld series mixed the vampire and werewolf tropes, and I’ve noticed a lot more werewolf-themed books on the shelves and discount tables. I think my favourite title has to be Eat, Prey, Love.
But that’s winding down now, too, especially as the final Twilight movie has come and (thankfully) gone.
Right now, the big craze is zombies, what with all the zombie books, The Walking Dead TV show, and Warm Bodies on the big screen, but there is a lot more.
There has also been a spate of angel-themed movies and books, too: Legion in 2010, about a rebellious Archangel Michael (wouldn’t Lucifer have made more sense?), and Constantine 2005, based on the graphic novel of the same name.
The Hobbit movies will again spur renewed interest in Tolkien and his brand of elves and dwarves, but I don’t think it’s going to reach the same level as when the Lord of the Rings movies came out.
And there’s been a strong, continuing interest in Greek mythology over the past decade o too: Liam Neeson as Zeus is only the latest, but who could forget the Hercules TV series about 15 years ago, which spawned Xena (coolest show ever!). There was a Jason and the Argonauts miniseries around 2000, and don’t forget Troy with an all-star cast in 2004, including Brad Pitt as Achilles and Eric Bana as Hector.
Predicting the next wave
So, what’s next? What will be the next fantasy creature or trope to top the popular consciousness? Mummies? Witches? Demons?
Predicting this accurately could make a new writer’s career, allowing him or her to ride a wave. As a strategy for success, though, it ranks right up there with betting on tsunamis.
There’s no shortage of literary fodder to create blockbuster movies — just scan the authors involved in this blog. As you’d expect from writers whose imaginations regularly trend toward the fantastic, the variety of subjects, settings and fantasy creatures is as vast as the night sky.
In the comments, make your best guess about the next big thing in popular fantasy. It’ll be fun to revisit these predictions in a year or two.
Scott Bury is author of The Bones of the Earth and the soon-to-be-released One Shade of Red. His blog is at scottswrittenwords.blogspot.com.