Sunday, August 21, 2016

The outcasts of the literary world

Anne on vampires; they are the most powerful metaphor for the outsider I ever encountered. I, a woman with no clear gender identity, strong erotic drives, great ambition, and a fractured cultural background, felt "normal" when I wrote about vampires --- intelligent outcasts who refused to accept the world's contempt as their story. I didn't inject philosophy into my vampire novels; it was just there; Lestat, Louis, Claudia, Armand...they were living breathing allegories, all crying for the right to live, to have a place in the universe. If you give all you have to your writing, if you tell all you know in every novel, you can't escape the deeper philosophical questions, meanings, possibilities.

When I came of age, nobody thought "a vampire novel" was worth that kind of commitment and depth. Genre fiction was presumed to be shallow. Same with the historical novel. I saw "Feast of All Saints" panned because it wasn't a simplistic melodrama. Nobody even knew how to classify "Cry to Heaven." But I kept giving all I had to my strange books, ignoring the denigrating labels and frankly getting downright angry about them.

Today, you don't hear those complaints so much. Seems the whole world knows you can learn a great deal about "everything" from a good episode of "Game of Thrones" and that there are profound truths in "Gone Girl." Daniel Silva packs his beautiful spy novels with deep moral concerns. Any type of novel can be a great novel. ------- What a wonderful thing to have lived long enough to see the power of labels broken, the "rules" of genre thrown to the winds, the bias of high culture ignored or stood on its head.

Of course the science fiction readers always knew these truths. In the 50's they were looking to their great writers for poetry, heart wrenching reflection on alienation --- the use of plot and setting for lofty and undeniable truths. I love being a novelist. ----------- I love being the producer, director, set designer and star of my weird, unclassifiable stories. I've grown to love being laughed at, sneered at, ridiculed, questioned as to how I, of all people, dare to write about Jesus! And you know why I love it? Because I've been lucky enough to have many, many readers over the years, readers who give each new book a chance, readers who say simply that they enjoy my books, readers who quietly "get it," wonderful readers from all walks of life --- They are priceless to me, and they are my real critics, reviewers, judges, etc. I long ago left it up to them to decide whether I was any good, or just a crackpot or a trash writer. And I just go on writing about vampires, witches, telepaths, ghosts, angels, werewolves, and yes, even Jesus --- for them and for me.

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