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What's hot & cooling off in fantasy these days?

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Wordaholic
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Over at my website (karenkincy.com; stop on by and leave a comment or two, if you like) I've posted about the trends I'm seeing in young adult fantasy. Vampires and werewolves are still going very strong, locked in an eternal battle of who will win over the most readers (Twilight, anyone?). The latest trend seems to be faeries: Holly Black's books have been around for a bit, and now Melissa Marr's are quite popular, and many Blueboarders have faerie books coming out. I'm of course watching this trend closely, since one of the books I'm working on falls under this genre. I'm also seeing mermaids and zombies sneaking toward the periphery of popularity.

What do you predict will be popular in YA fantasy in the near future? What would you like to see more of? Previously, I wanted to see pookas (Celtic shapeshifting spirits) and kitsune (Japanese fox-spirits), so I wrote about them in my novel Other. (Yes, shameless self-promotion is going on right here.) Right now I'd like to see more angels/winged people and creatures from Greek mythology (like centaurs and gorgons).

How about you?
Karen
#1 - December 13, 2008, 04:53 PM
Out now: DEADLY DELICIOUS

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Twitter: @karenkincy

Bracken

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I don't think this is what you mean, but I want more traditional high fantasy like GRACELING!  Of course, I may be partial, too... ;)
#2 - December 13, 2008, 05:01 PM

The Rejecter recently did a blog post on this very subject:  http://rejecter.blogspot.com/2008/12/state-of-sci-fifantasy-market.html
#3 - December 13, 2008, 05:17 PM
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Wordaholic
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I guess my question was this, if I may rephrase it: which magical creatures and paranormal peoples are you seeing a lot of in fantasy, particularly urban fantasy, nowadays? Which do you see too little of, and would like to see more?

Karen
#4 - December 14, 2008, 10:07 AM
Out now: DEADLY DELICIOUS

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I write faerie/Celtic myth based urban fantasy and have been worried about how saturated the market is--but that doesn't mean readers aren't craving it.  In adult short fiction I see a wider cross section of mythology--Aztec, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian . . . quite a bit from Iceland--more African mythology would be fun.

I wonder if the room for expansion is in historic fantasy rather than urban fantasy. Maybe high fantasy without the high fantasy voice--if that makes sense.  :duel
#5 - December 14, 2008, 10:29 AM
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I'd love to read (or maybe write!) dark novels about mermaids, who've always fascinated me.
#6 - December 14, 2008, 10:48 AM

I have heard rumors that the faery market is reaching saturation, BUT who knows how valid those are. I've also heard that while there are some excellent zombie books coming out (obligatory pimping of FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan) that zombies aren't going to be so much of a "trend" as a handful of really well written books.  Anyhow, I don't think it's really predictable, to be honest...I wish it was!
#7 - December 14, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Well...I just read somewhere recently that vampires & zombies were going out, & werewolves were coming in. But when I went to a SCBWI event last week where an editor was critiquing people's first few pages in front of everyone, she said that a werewolf novel (which someone had submitted) would be a tough sell right now because the urban fantasy market is so saturated. She said she thinks fantasy will continue to sell at a higher rate than it did in the past, but that there's so much competition now with everyone wanting to jump on the Twilight bandwagon that it's that much harder to stand out. Also, if a publishing house already has an author writing popular vampire books or werewolf books, etc., they won't be likely to take on a new writer writing on that same topic. She indicated that her boss was personally burned out on paranormal romance submissions in general--not that they aren't still considering them, just that they're overwhelmed by seeing so many of them.

She did say that as long as you were writing it because it was your passion, it would probably show and could sell even if it was yet another vampire novel, but if you were just writing it because you thought it was a hot topic right now and likely to sell, you should stop and write something you really care about. Apparently they are getting a lot of urban fantasy submissions from people who don't really love or know the genre.
#8 - December 14, 2008, 02:39 PM

we had a thread recently about historicals coming
back as a trend for YA! i hope so. i also love classic
fantasy like graceling.
#9 - December 14, 2008, 02:42 PM
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I have heard rumors that the faery market is reaching saturation, BUT who knows how valid those are.

I've kind of wondered about that, because the book I'm about to send out on submission is about faeries. So, if fairies really are cooling off, that would be bad. However, it does seem that most of the faery books out there are of the dark, urban fantasy variety, and mine is more fairy chick lit. At first I'd thought that might hurt me, but if editors are looking for something different, I'm hoping that, if anything, it might work to my advantage *crosses fingers*.
#10 - December 14, 2008, 03:09 PM

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I'm not telling what I'd like to see more of for fear you all will go out and write it before I get a chance, and then by the time I actually have a saleable novel, you'll all have saturated the market! 

But it is a growth opportunity for sure, so I'm keeping it ALL to myself.  Nah nah na nah nah!  ;)

#11 - December 15, 2008, 09:44 AM

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I have heard rumors that the faery market is reaching saturation, BUT who knows how valid those are. I've also heard that while there are some excellent zombie books coming out (obligatory pimping of FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan) that zombies aren't going to be so much of a "trend" as a handful of really well written books.  Anyhow, I don't think it's really predictable, to be honest...I wish it was!

Yes, I know it's going to be more speculation than prediction, but I find it quite interesting to see what a group of writers comes up with. As for faerie books reaching saturation, I don't know if I agree. With werewolves and vampires, pretty much *everything* has been done before, whereas I can see many variations and expansions on faerie lore than should be explored. I'm fairly confident that my WIP faerie novel, UNSEEN, covers a lot of new ground.

Karen
#12 - December 15, 2008, 10:21 AM
Out now: DEADLY DELICIOUS

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musing girl

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In adult short fiction I see a wider cross section of mythology--Aztec, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian . . . quite a bit from Iceland--more African mythology would be fun.


I second seeing more mythologies used in fantasy.  There's such a wealth of myths and legends around the world!  Specifically, I'd love to read more with that play with Norse mythology and Russian folktales in the present day. 

However, I don't have predictions about future trends.  It's hard to tell what the trend is until it's over.  Besides, what's the point of writing a supernatural creature because its the "popular" monster this year?  I think it's better to write your favorite creature/being/mythology because you love it, regardless of how popular it is or isn't.  Who knows?  Maybe that way you'll start your own trend. :)
#13 - December 15, 2008, 11:02 AM

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Besides, what's the point of writing a supernatural creature because its the "popular" monster this year?  I think it's better to write your favorite creature/being/mythology because you love it, regardless of how popular it is or isn't.  Who knows?  Maybe that way you'll start your own trend. :)

Precisely :)  I wrote faeries bc it's what I love (although vampires are quite close to my heart as well).  Faery & vampire lore were what I knew best, so it was a case of write "what you know" (and love).   The other project I have in the works is not anywhere near what's hot in that market, but it's what speaks to me.  If the market responds, cool. If not, I'm still having fun with it.
#14 - December 15, 2008, 12:07 PM

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Here here!  I know I write for the love of the story and my best stories are the ones where I can't wait to find out what happens.  :smile whether it's faeries or past lives or romantic intrigue.

But since I write fantasy I watch those trends and if you're watching Publisher's Lunch at all, there are a significant number of fantasy books being purchased now, which would suggest to me the trend is still strong.  I've seen sales of faeries, vampires, werewolves etc.  but at the end of the day, I think it comes back to the story.
#15 - December 15, 2008, 02:02 PM
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i would love to see the use of folklore and myth
used in fantasy from all cultures!

my friend on another board just had five agents
scrambling for her YA based on irish folklore!

norse myth is used often in traditional fantasy,
isn't it? was tolkien based on it partially?

as much as i'd love it to become popular,
i wonder if asian based fantasy will ever take off?
an editor at baen told me it doesn't sell.
he called my novel amy tan meets crouching tiger.
like it was bad.
#16 - December 15, 2008, 02:36 PM
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Amy Tan meets Crouching Tiger is good to me! And how do they know it's not going to sell? Are they selling Asian Fantasy? Cause I can't find hardly any!!!

#17 - December 15, 2008, 03:12 PM
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musing girl

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norse myth is used often in traditional fantasy,
isn't it? was tolkien based on it partially?

You're right, xiaotien.  There are elements of Norse mythology in high fantasy (quests, cauldrons, mead- drinking, and whatnot).  I'm personally not a gigantic fan of high fantasy though, so I'd like to see these elements used in the modern day.  For example, Ragnarok starts in the present day or the featured "creature" is valkyries.  The only example that has some Norse mythology in a modern setting I can come up with right now is Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Still, like Sunlover said, "it comes back to the story."  So long as the story is compelling and you fall in love with the world and characters, I'll eat it up regardless of what "trends" the story does or doesn't falls into.
#18 - December 15, 2008, 04:03 PM

ecb

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That PW piece (?) somebody posted recently about the undead in YA mentioned something about ghosts being a still relatively-untapped source, which made me let out a little "squee." :)  (After I glowered a bit, b/c they didn't mention CURSE in the article. :dr)

And to the poster who mentioned more high fantasy like GRACELING, I actually chatted with my agent about this, when we sent STARCROSSED on submission, b/c besides Tamora Pierce, you don't tend to see a lot of YA high fantasy.  She came back within seconds with an impressive list of what she was calling just "fantasy" titles that are getting great buzz--from PRINCESS BEN to everything Shannon Hale.  I think YA fantasists have been so innovative in recent years that the "traditional" high fantasy-type stories were sort of left behind... but it's nice to see that authors are taking another look and sort of dusting those traditional elements off again. :)
#19 - December 15, 2008, 04:24 PM

ello, i don't have my hand on the pulse of fantasy.
but if asian themed fantasy sold in the genre, there'd definitely
be more of it, no? not sure.

melissa, i see now what you mean. you want the old
folklore with a modern twist. and i love neil...er, i mean
i loved american gods. ha!

ecb, ghosts! ooooh!
and graceling has been very well received!
#20 - December 15, 2008, 04:53 PM
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and i love neil...er, i mean
i loved american gods. ha!

LOL.  As everyone should . . .  No living author compares to him in my estimation. He's a true seanachie--and one of the few novelists entitled to wear that term.

I've seen sales of faeries, vampires, werewolves etc.  but at the end of the day, I think it comes back to the story.

(BACK TO MAIN TOPIC)

As to the upcoming texts/market . . .

I get A LOT of YA UF across my desk.  Editors have been sweet abt sending me books I might enjoy, & there are some fun stories coming out.   Btw what I've read, heard from industry folks, & know from other authors, I don't think we're done w UF.  My thoughts are really random but fwiw . . .

There are a lot of faery-and faery-ish books (of all sorts), but there's certainly room for more quality folklore-infused texts.  I've blurbed exactly one faery book (FAERY REBELS) of the pile I've seen--and loved it enough to violate my "no blurbing MG" tendency.  As far as I'm concerned we need more like Anderson's (well-researched! different!).  . . but I've been saying we needed more of these for years.  That's why I wrote WL.   I've loved Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Terri Windling, Holly Black (et al) for years, so I'm completely not objective here.  I just want more faery-lore books.

Personal hunger aside . . .

Mixed mythos seems to be growing.  Kelley Armstrong has her series.  And I read a great ghost/magic book that is all sorts of literary (IMMORTAL Gillian Shields).

There's unexpected otherwordly stuff in Kim Harrison's new series (reapers).  Gaiman did the unexpected otherworldly brilliantly (of course) in his MG, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

I was talking to an editor about a couple dystopian  & near future SFF texts (the top of which, imo, is Carrie Ryan FOREST OF HANDS & TEETH).  That sunb-genre is looking quite strong. Both THE HUNGER GAMES and LITTLE BROTHER have kicked it hard. Recent sales in this area (esp steampunk) seem solid right now.

GRACELING is right there swooping up the well-deserved notice in the strong fem protag with a high fantasy world.  If reading that doesn't make a person hungry for more, I'm going to be baffled. 

PC Cast recently sold film rights to her vamp books, & a number of YA vamp books are doing well.  I know some older ones are being re-issued.  This is true in adult & YA.

#21 - December 15, 2008, 05:36 PM
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 10:12 PM by Melissa »

merewald

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I'd love to see more obscure creatures/legends being used, instead of the ever-popular myths. I'd like to see someone tap into mythology of an ancient culture that no one's ever heard of before, or that's amazingly unique.
#22 - December 16, 2008, 01:45 PM

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Right now, I'm really into Norse mythology and math/science/metaphysics based supernatural stuff, so that's what I'm writing.  In terms of what I want to read, I don't ever really OD on a specific creature, so long as people are doing new (to me) and inventive things with it. I much prefer new twists on often-used creatures than "new" creatures that are written as a Standard Urban Fantasy Non-Human trope.  Whether you're dealing with a popular creature or one that has never been seen in YA before, it's still really hard to do something that feels new.  I mean, someone could write a book about a "wendigo" that feels exactly like all of the vampire books out there, and for me as a reader, the wendigo part wouldn't buy you much; whereas someone could write a vampire book with a unique setting, quirky characters, and a twist I've never seen before, and it would.  So for me, it's really not about the creature at all... it's about the execution.

In terms of what I'd personally like to see more of, I'd say genre blending!  I'd like to see more books like Amanda's UNINVITED or Lisa's I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, which blend fantasy creatures (vampires and ghosts respectively) with  the feel of a more contemporary book about a teen facing some serious issues.  Or like Ingrid Law's SAVVY, which blends the family charm of something like THE PENDERWICKS or SAFFY'S ANGEL with a heck of a voice and psychic powers. Bring on the supernatural ANNE OF GREEN GABLES or HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS! I'd also like to see more books like GRACELING- which means that I'd like to see both more high fantasy AND more books in which the 'fantasy' elements are relatively minimal and incredibly easily believed.  I think that the ability to build a well-realized and developed fantasy or urban fantasy world in which the supernatural is very subtly woven into reality is pretty incredible.
#23 - December 16, 2008, 02:06 PM

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I started doing research for a fairy tale/fantasy thing based on Hans Christian Anderson and Odysseus' sirens. Then in my research, I learned that sirens, in Greek mythology, really had nothing to do with water. They were birds! So there went that idea. Now I'm back at square one, googling and Wiki'ing slutty water creatures :-p
#24 - January 07, 2009, 08:21 PM

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I started doing research for a fairy tale/fantasy thing based on Hans Christian Anderson and Odysseus' sirens. Then in my research, I learned that sirens, in Greek mythology, really had nothing to do with water. They were birds! So there went that idea. Now I'm back at square one, googling and Wiki'ing slutty water creatures :-p

I think "books about slutty water creatures" should totally be the next big subgenre  :applause.
#25 - January 07, 2009, 08:48 PM

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I started doing research for a fairy tale/fantasy thing based on Hans Christian Anderson and Odysseus' sirens. Then in my research, I learned that sirens, in Greek mythology, really had nothing to do with water. They were birds! So there went that idea. Now I'm back at square one, googling and Wiki'ing slutty water creatures :-p

Nereids! That's what you are looking for! I've had an idea involving naiads for years!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nereid
#26 - January 09, 2009, 06:02 AM

I started doing research for a fairy tale/fantasy thing based on Hans Christian Anderson and Odysseus' sirens. Then in my research, I learned that sirens, in Greek mythology, really had nothing to do with water. They were birds! So there went that idea. Now I'm back at square one, googling and Wiki'ing slutty water creatures :-p

Hannah-- no one says you have to make YOUR creature anything like the ones in myths. I'm doing a mermaid/siren book. (Check out my books page at mandyhubbard.com for the pitch.)
#27 - January 09, 2009, 10:52 AM
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That's a great suggestion! I was thinking that or something called ondine, or undine...apparently that was the basis for Hans Christian Anderson's particular type of mermaid. And Mandy, that looks like a great pitch! I suppose I can still use my original idea, but I'd like to go with some mythology...but I'll probably end up mixing a lot of it.
#28 - January 09, 2009, 06:51 PM

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My current series is all based on the mythology of different cultures. There's a twist though - the mythology is in enchanted books in the back room of a secret library. Each book has a different adventure and a different mythology and a different made-up artifact to find. Reviewers have called it everything from 'Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew meets Magic Tree House', to 'Tomb Raider for teens' (I kind of liked that one.) The first is Greek, the second Egyptian. I'm working on book three, which uses Chinese mythology - and it is HARD. It was so difficult to find myths to fit with the mythos I've created. It's hard to explain, but I'm making it work, and it's coming out nicely. My plan is to use Celtic fairy tales for book four - if I ever GET to the dang thing!

I love the Percy Jackson series, which is all Greek mythology. That series will be over this year though, so there will be a gap in the market to fill :) Personally once I'm done with this series I'm moving on to steampunk fairy tales and High Fantasy adventure.

I think anything that's well written and has a killer story is 'hot'. Then everyone else will scramble to put out something like it!
#29 - January 10, 2009, 04:45 PM
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Here here!  I know I write for the love of the story and my best stories are the ones where I can't wait to find out what happens.  :smile whether it's faeries or past lives or romantic intrigue.

But since I write fantasy I watch those trends and if you're watching Publisher's Lunch at all, there are a significant number of fantasy books being purchased now, which would suggest to me the trend is still strong.  I've seen sales of faeries, vampires, werewolves etc.  but at the end of the day, I think it comes back to the story.

TOTALLY!!!   It's ALL about a great story with fabulous characters, whatever they are.
#30 - January 10, 2009, 05:09 PM
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