Stephenie Meyer is not your typical paranormal romance author. She’s a Mormon mother of three, who hasn’t read Dracula, doesn’t watch R rated movies, and her books contain no sex scenes. On top of being atypical for her genre, she must also contend with the fact that her Twilight series is now being touted as the next Harry Potter phenomenon, after her third novel Eclipse knocked Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows off the #1 spot on bestselling charts in just two weeks.
The similarities between Meyer and JK Rowling are intriguing: both came up with the idea for their book series as (unemployed) stay-at-home mothers, neither had previously been published, and both have developed a cult-like following of teens and tweens who build fan sites and flock to author events.
However, Meyer had no intention of being a writer prior to her 2003 dream about a girl talking to a handsome young vampire. That dream became Twilight, a four-part supernatural romance series about the adventures of Isabella (Bella) Swan, her vampire love, Edward Cullen, and her werewolf best friend who yearns for her love, Jacob Black.
The novels follow Bella through the vampiric underbelly of Forks, Washington, where she deals with a feud between her best friend and lover, multiple threats on her life from vampire covens, a spree of paranormal murders in nearby Seattle, and must eventually come face to face with her own mortality.
- Book One – Twilight – Bella moves from Phoenix to Forks where she falls in love with a local vampire named Edward Cullen, and is later confronted by a vampire coven who wants her dead.
- Book Two – New Moon – With Bella's relationship with Edward in turmoil, she must rely on her new best friend Jacob when her life is once again threatened by an evil vampire.
- Book Three – Eclipse – Bella's relationships are tested when the vampires and werewolves must join forces to defend Seattle from a string of unsolved supernatural murders.
- Book Four – Breaking Dawn – Hailed to be the biggest thing since Harry Potter, the fourth and final book in the Twilight series is released on the back of a sold-out mini tour.
- The Host – Meyer’s first adult oriented novel. A parasitic being fights for the control of a woman, and a complicated love triangle develops when the host and parasite each have different ideas about love.
Meyer was not the first author to link vampires and romance, owing at least a small amount of her success to the groundwork laid by the trailblazers of the genre, most of whom she has never read due to their graphic content.
The biggest names in paranormal romance these days may be Laura K. Hamilton and Sherrilyn Kenyon but in the 1980s Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series made her one of the most recognized and collectible romance authors on the planet. A limited, lettered, and signed copy of Rice’s third book in the series, Queen of the Damned, sold on AbeBooks for $1500, which is epic for a romance author, a genre which is voraciously read, but rarely collectible.
However, the roots of the vampire in western culture run deep. The tales of creatures who feed on the flesh and blood of men have been in recorded in many cultures throughout the globe, and became popularized in 18th century Europe when vampire superstitions flooded into western Europe from the east.
Vampires made their way into modern fiction when John Polidori wrote the short story "The Vampyre"in 1819. During the summer of 1816, Polidori and his friends Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley were trapped indoors, due to the terrible weather that year, while on a holiday. To pass the time they held a ghost story competition, which not only resulted in Polidori’s Vampyre tale but Mary Shelley’s entry, which was the basis for her novel Frankenstein.
Even though Polidori is often credited with the creation of the vampire romance genre, the modern concept of the vampire did not truly take form until 1897, when Bram Stoker wrote the quintessential vampire novel Dracula. After hundreds of printings, retellings and adaptations, Dracula is one of the most revered and collectible horror novels. A first edition copy of the British publication will command five figures, and the most expensive copy ever sold on AbeBooks is a first American edition that went for $4000.