Blood-Sucking Vampires? Sorry, They're Not My Type

Article excerpt

Byline: carolyn hitt

JUST before Christmas, I perused the forlorn aisles of soon-to-be closed Borders in search of some suitable books for my niece. "What are you looking for?" asked an enthusiastic young shop assistant.

"Something for a 12-year-old girl that doesn't involve vampires or boyfriends," I told him.

"You'll be lucky," he replied. He was right. The biggest-selling books for tweenage girls combine both vampires and boyfriends.

Fiction for 11 to 15-year-olds is stuck in the Twilight Zone.

In a tough recessionary market for the book industry, the vampire novels of Stephanie Meyer have been hailed as the saviour of children's publishing.

Figures released last week show children's book sales were up 4.9% while the adult market fell.

Meyer's tales of adolescence and blood-sucking occupy the five top slots of the 100 best-selling children's books, while her sales of pounds 29.3m last year represent 10% of the total young people's fiction market.

I can't quite get my head round why pubescent females are being bitten by this particular bug.

That's because the only vampires who populated our imaginations at that age were provided by the Hammer House of Horror - or Carry On Screaming.

Christopher Lee sinking his pointy canines into the heaving white bosom of some quivering Bavarian barmaid was hardly suitable fare for First Form girls.

In the '90s, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt did their bit for making the undead a tad more cuddly in the big screen adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire.

But it took Buffy the Vampire Slayer to bring a whole new meaning to teenage love bites, shifting the natural habitat of Dracula from Transylvanian castles to all-American high schools.

The scene was thus set for the Twilight novels of Stephanie Meyer which in 2005 sparked the biggest global children's publishing sensation since Harry Potter picked up his wand.

More than 85 million copies have been sold worldwide but if you haven't got a young female in the family, here's the gist.

The novels centre on teenage girl Bella Swan and her attraction to 104-year-old vampire Edward Cullen.

Fortunately for Bella, Edward doesn't look anything like Nosferatu. …