Tell me if this sounds familiar: a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl in a small town begins another year in high school with a chip on her shoulder. She feels isolated from the people around her because of a tragic incident in her recent past…or because she just moved to a new town and doesn’t know anybody…or because she’s a bit of an outcast/loner type to begin with.
Enter a mysterious young man, devastatingly handsome with dreamboat eyes, who seems kind and respectful but has an intriguing dangerous air about him. Our heroine is instantly drawn to him, and he to her, and they develop a strong bond that no one else around them can immediately understand. They begin to fall in love, and soon, our heroine realizes that her young man is a real, honest to God vampire – and is at least one hundred years old.
If this setup doesn’t sound familiar, then maybe you’ve never read a young adult vampire story before or seen any vampire-related popular TV shows over the last decade or so. This plot appears in Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Vampire Kisses, and, to a lesser extent, Buffy. (I say “to a lesser extent” because, while Buffy and Angel’s romance has shades of this plot, it has a few key differences – the biggest two being that Buffy was well aware of the existence of vampires before she ever met Angel, and that Angel never masqueraded as a high school student.)
There’s an old saying that there are no new story ideas, only different executions of the same plot. Certainly, I have varying opinions of the vampire stories I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I’m not a fan of Twilight. I enjoyed the first book in the Vampire Kisses story because of the sarcastic lead character, but didn’t read the sequels because I felt lukewarm about the main romance. I wasn’t that interested in the first book in The Vampire Diaries series but became a big fan of the show for a good three seasons, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
But even though I enjoyed some versions of this same plot, I didn’t want to read – or write – yet another story about a teenage girl who falls in love with a hundred-year-old vampire pretending to be sixteen or seventeen. I didn’t think there was any new ground to cover with that plot, and I couldn’t come up with any logical reason why an immortal creature would continue to attend high school.
Then I thought, what if the vampires were the same age as the other high school students and didn’t have one hundred years of experience and immortality? What if they were just as clueless about how to live as most teenagers are?
The teen characters in Fanged are not hundred-year-old vampires successfully posing as sixteen-year-olds due to their youthful features. Sean, the narrator, has only been a vampire for six months, and the oldest of them in vampire years (Hannah) was turned into a vampire two years before the plot of Fanged begins. They’re not enrolling in high school because they have some kind of longterm plan to relive adolescence over and over again, and they’re not planning to fall in love with human girls (or boys). They’re in high school because they were in high school when they were turned into vampires, and they’re going to finish high school and live as close to their human selves as possible.
Soon enough, they will discover that living human lives as vampires is not as easy as they hoped it would be.