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Something to sink your teeth into

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By Calen McKinney

Getting a child to read is sometimes difficult, I've been told. Teenagers might rather play video games, go to the movies or spend time with their friends. But a surprising phenomenon has taken over recently ... one that's drawing today's teenagers in droves to book stores. And I have to admit, without any embarrassment at all, that I've been bitten by the phenomenon, too.

It seems today that if you want to make it big, you need only to write a book or screenplay about vampires, and you're set.

Look at Stephenie Meyer or Charlaine Harris, to name just two of the countless now famous writers who made it big when they wrote their characters as having fangs and enjoying a person's blood as a tasty snack.

A recent article in "Entertainment Weekly" magazine - which is one of my favorite magazines - made a list of the Top 20 vampires. My two favorites - Edward Cullen from "Twilight" and Bill Compton of "True Blood" - were both in the Top 5.

My first bite at the vampire phenomenon (pun intended) came when I watched the now canceled "Blood Ties" show on Lifetime. The show was really about a detective who investigated the supernatural, but she had an attractive male vampire friend who often came to her rescue. Why did the show ever get canceled?

My next taste was when I read Myers' "Twilight" series. You have read my comments about those books before, so I won't repeat them. But it seems those books were only the beginning of today's vampire phenomenon.

A friend recently told me about Harris' "Sookie Stackhouse" novels (which have recently been brought to life in the Showtime series "True Blood") and I just had to read them after hearing that they, like "Twilight," contain a love story woven deeply into cults, vampire killings, shape-shifters and telepathy. The book series is still ongoing, with the 10th novel due out later this year.

The book's main character, Sookie Stackhouse, is a telepath. This makes life a bit difficult for her, as she can hear the thoughts of everyone around her. But she can't hear Bill's thoughts. That's what draws her to him, even though she knows he doesn't eat what she does. He tells her he resists the temptation for human blood by feeding on synthetic "Tru Blood." They become close.

I won't ruin the rest of the story for you. I should warn you, however, that the Sookie Stackhouse books (as well as the "True Blood" show) are only for adults. Teens should stick to reading Edward and Bella's story ... and the many, many teen vampire books that have since followed.

I saw a promo on TV recently for a new show coming this fall about a vampire who attends a high school and meets a human girl (spoiler alert, I'm guessing they fall in love). Sounds familiar, huh? I bet the show will be well received.

So why are vampire stories today so popular? One person quoted in Entertainment Weekly's story says the phenomenon is just representative of today's culture.

So are there vampires running around killing each other and falling in love with humans? I sure hope not ... sounds like a story I would love to read though.