So, we've all heard for the last couple of years that vampires are dead in YA (no pun intended), but Holly Black's new novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown puts a twist on the genre that is as relevant and refreshing as the cover image. This book made me love vampires again and easily earned a spot as one of the Best Teen & Young Adult Books of September.
A vampire plague results in the creation of Coldtowns, where the monsters are quarantined along with those who join them in hopes of becoming one of the undead themselves or who just want to escape their lives for a community where anything goes. Black's novel is a clever combination of horror--I'm telling you, you will experience blood with a multitude of senses--and urban fantasy with a YA heroine who kicks ass but also has more typical teenage girl vulnerabilities and desires.
I recently sat down with Holly (who is, by the way, a blue-haired bombshell) in our Seattle offices, and we talked about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. My first question was the one I'd been asking myself since I heard about the new book (you can read the rest after the jump):
Why write vampires now?
The answer was not so simple, but I think Black hit the nail on the head when she said, "...there’s never been a time in the marketplace when vampires were either so big you would have to be nuts to write a vampire book because there are so many out there and they are so great that how could you ever possibly write one to compete or they’re so over that you would have to be crazy to write a vampire book because no one could ever possibly reinvent the genre again. And I have seen vampires go from one to the other, to the other, to the other, to the other, and I realized there was never going to be a good time to write a vampire book so I might as well just write one."
In her acknowledgements, Black calls The Coldest Girl in Coldtown "a love letter" to all the vampire novels she read growing up. If you're like me, you want to know more about that. When I asked the question I never thought part of the story would involve vampire Barbies. But it does.
"Well, when I was really little my mom told me that Dracula was the most frightening book that she had ever read and she described the Count outside the castle climbing on the wall and how weird and unnatural it was and I was too young to have read the book, but it lodged in my mind and terrified me.
I was a very easily terrified kid, so I actually I had these Barbies and I turned a bunch of them into vampires so they would be good vampires and they would protect me from the bad vampires that were clearly out there ready to get me and from there I had sort of a fascination because I grew to really like my little vampire stories with my vampire Barbies and then I wound up reading Dracula which turned out not to be as frightening as my mom had built it up to be because I had made it in my mind, you know, the scariest thing possible..."