Debbie was the first to give me a phone review. Her angle was far more about putting Blood Sisters in context with the other vampire fiction she's read and movies she's seen, and soon after talking, I received a paperback copy of Barbara Hambly's Renfield. In the course of the conversation, she asked if I had read the Twilight series (sorry, Deb, but I'm really glad you didn't send me that one), as it seems like I should. That led to one of my regular rants about the current genre of vampire fiction:
Why do vampire books have to have werewolves, shapeshifters, and fairies of the mythical type?
I can guarantee that there won't be any of those in future Olivia Chronicles books--sorry if that's what folks are looking for. I won't guarantee that there won't be any Voodoo practitioners, given the locale, but I don't foresee the Wolfman ever showing up. And Elvis won't either (sorry, Charlaine Harris).
Renee mentioned that she thought I could have a much bigger audience if I would just add some heterosexual characters. This got me thinking about the whole question on why the book is so "gay centric." There are some reasons:
Vampirism as a metaphor for chosen family.
When I taught Dracula with some regularity, we discussed the way in which Stoker really presents vampirism as a very ritualistic marital rite where the one being "turned" is very much chosen (although Lucy, as the "bloofer lady" feasts on children, this can be seen very much as her desire for the family she can't have, as she was on the verge of marriage, and we assume that would lead to children and a regular nuclear family).
In the LGBT community, folks tend to create their own families, building strong relationships with folks they aren't really biologically connected with, much like vampires. And, like vampire families, those gay family structures are often just as dysfunctional and fraught with jealousy, resentment, and so on. (I do realize that straight folks do this to, but with the LGBT community, there is some thing added to that dynamic that they don't find in their biological families; obviously that shared experience of being not straight creates a different kind of bond).
I'm not opposed to adding straight characters that have a love/romance interest as long as it adds to the story (in fact, the start of book 2 will have some straight and/or bi characters introduced into the mix, and they are major characters), but with the first book, I also wanted to target the queer market.
Yesterday, Blood Sisters was the only book in the top 10 Gay/Lesbian genre fiction downloads at Amazon that did not have a half naked dude or two on the front.
When I think about it, the queer writers I like the most who have gone mainstream like Sarah Waters and Emma Donoghue I like best when they are writing about queer characters who are ok with being queer. Fiction featuring queer characters who are not wringing their hands over not being straight, not being picked on is rare. Books like Hood or Tipping the Velvet can be transformative and empowering for the reader. While books like Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Rubyfruit Jungle, and Stone Butch Blues are certainly important as coming out and pushing back against the system books, there should be fiction that features gay characters that are not coming out books, erotica, or books where gay characters are seen as abnormal rebels who have to fight all the time.
Worries about length. Size does matter. (Sorry, couldn't resist).
The paperback of Blood Sisters is 232 pages or so, and the Kindle reports as under 200 pages. I was wondering about that at first, but then realized that I'm busy. As a reader, when I read for fun, it's usually at night or when I can catch an hour or so uninterrupted by work. I don't want pot-boilers that describe how many nose hairs someone has or that includes a lot of small talk that's not essential to the plot. I think back to when I was a voracious reader and i think of Pocketbooks--remember those? They were small paperbacks that were slim enough to literally fit in your pocket. You'd read one and be ready for the next one. Kind of like the Kindle version of Vin Packer's The Twisted Ones that I'm reading now.
My point here? Just as you won't find Elvis or the Wolfman, I don't see any of the books in the series being 400 pages each. It could happen, but I think that it's more likely that the volumes might be slimmer. And there's nothing that says I can't do as many writers, including the artist formerly known as Poppy Z. Brite, do--write short stories about those characters on the side.