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?