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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finally, I'm getting to the Werewolves and Mermaids

I read this really interesting article once in the New York Times about how every decade has a monster du jour—like a mythical creature that rears its ugly head in pop culture, then dies down so a new one can take its place. If memory serves, the article said the 70s favored mummies, 80s were all about werewolves, the 90s were vampires, and the new millennium thus far has been wild for zombies.

The author presented various theories about why this is, the details of which escape me now, but basically he implied that certain eras favor certain monsters because the creature speaks to us right then—it becomes the mascot for our unconscious thoughts and desires. For example, he argued that zombies are hot now because brain-dead consumerism and mind-numbing jobs make us feel like zombies, so we gravitate toward books and movies that speak to that.

Of course, some monsters just won’t die. I heard from a publishing insider that five or six years ago most editors were convinced that vampires were dead; Anne Rice had milked that trend to its limit, and the bloodsucking icon no longer had any selling power. Then Stephanie Myer came along with the Twilight saga and they had to admit they were dead wrong (ouch! Those dead/undead puns are just so bad! Forgive me…)

Lately I’m flirting with the idea of writing fantasy, or at least incorporating more magic into my realism. I’ve developed a certain yen for whimsical monsters of all sorts—werewolves, zombies, vampires, you name it—but my real love is mermaids. I wrote a story once in graduate school that featured a mermaid, and though one pretty out there girl totally dug it, most of my workshop classmates were like, “Jesus, what were you thinking?” Alarmed by their disdain, I backed off the mermaid thing. Now I’m reconsidering.

What do you think? Do you buy the hot-monster-of-the-decade theory, or is that just some New York Times reporter filling space in the Sunday paper? If you do think it’s plausible, any predictions about the decade ahead? Who will be the next Monster of the Moment?


ambeen said...

I think it's just someone filling space. I don't think it is some sort of subconcious thing, I think it's just a trend, plain and simple.

I am all for the mermaid idea, though! I love it. If anyone can pull it off, it's you.

Selling Power said...

Dear Ms. Gehram:

I just ran across an article you wrote on entitled Finally, I’m Getting to the Werewolves and Mermaids” posted June 16, 2008,, and I would like to raise an issue that is of concern to Selling Power magazine, which is the use of our trademark.

The word "Selling Power" is sometimes erroneously used as a synonym for sales effectiveness. For example, your article states: "… Anne Rice had milked that trend to its limit, and the bloodsucking icon no longer had any selling power.” We do not condone such uses of our trademark.

As a practical matter, when you describe sales effectiveness, there are a wide range of terms available such as: sales excellence, sales savvy, sales mastery, sales acumen, sales efficiency, and many more.

The reason for this letter is to educate writers like yourself that we want to protect our trademark, since we don't want to risk Selling Power being declared by the courts a generic word. Therefore we ask you not to use Selling Power as a phrase since it is our legal trademark.

We would like to receive a written acknowledgment of this letter stating that you will in the future identify Selling Power as a trademark if you should write about our magazine, and not use Selling Power as a phrase. If we do not hear from you, we will need to take further action.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

All the best,

Gerhard Gschwandtner
Founder and Publisher
Selling Power
1140 International Parkway
Fredericksburg VA 22406
Office: 540-752-7000 Cell: 540-273-2555

P.S. Watch Selling Power videos online


ambeen said...

Lol, is that selling power comment for real?

Jody Gehrman said...

creepy, huh? Do they seriously own those words? I can't believe they implied they'll sue if I don't use it the way they want me to use it. Big Brother city!

ambeen said...

I know! I've actually made sure I used the words in every day speech (it only happened twice so far but it was fun knowing if these people knew they'd be pissed off). Just for the fun of it. I was also thinking of making a post using the word several times but figured I wouldn't push it. :P