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Librarian writes guide to hot vampire romance

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Patricia O’Brien Matthews said she never would have written the book she did if she had found the information someplace else.

“But I wasn’t finding it anywhere else, so I did it,” she said.

The resulting “Fang-tastic Fiction: Twenty-First Century Paranormal Reads” is a book someone can sink their teeth into.

With urban fantasy novels among today’s hottest reads, Mathews’ concise descriptions of about 1,500 books with vampires, witches, werewolves and other supernatural characters will help discerning fans find what they like in one fell swoop.

“I love this stuff,” Mathews said, as she talked with obvious relish about her labor of love, seated at a table by the tall front windows in the North Ridgeville Branch Library where she works at the information and reference desk. “I describe some 1,500 books and I’ve read every one of them.”

And no, she isn’t burned out yet on the genre that counts the bestselling “Twilight” series of vampire books among its best-known titles.

“I stay up till 2 a.m. reading them,” Mathews said. “I have the most wonderful, strange dreams.”

Mathews will discuss her detailed reference book during a 7 p.m. program Tuesday at the library, 35700 Bainbridge Road. Printed by the publishing arm of the American Library Association, the 256-page softcover book was the October nonfiction choice by RT Book Reviews, a nationally circulated monthly magazine devoted to all things books.

Mathews’ inspiration for the book was largely parents being pressured by teens and ’tweens eager to read the “Twilight” series and other increasingly popular series of books featuring vampires and other otherworldly creatures that display varying levels of violence and sensuality.

Mathews’ book rates bloodshed, gore and sensuality on a 1-to-5-scale. A “1” rating is “yelling” for violence and “chaste” for sexiness, while a 5 denotes “bloodthirsty brutality” and “multiple explicit sexual scenes.”

Even humor gets ranked from “serious” to “hilarious” by Mathews, who doesn’t view life too seriously.

Much of today’s paranormal fiction and urban fantasy are set in contemporary times. Themes range from mysteries and romances to detective novels.

The tone and nature of horror stories has evolved from the days of “Dracula” author Bram Stoker, who “had this awful monster who dwelled in a castle,” to Anne (“Interview with the Vampire”) Rice, whose magnetic vampires “are not as remote but still dark and dangerous” to Stephenie Meyer’s insanely popular “Twilight” series that features vampire Edward Cullen and his high school-aged girlfriend, Isabella Swan.

“Now vampires are perfect boyfriends who’ve moved to the suburbs and are well-dressed, strong, and have lots of money because they’ve lived for centuries and been able to build up their wealth,” Mathews joked. As with every genre of book, the quality of writing varies.

“Some aren’t very well-written, but the good ones are good,” she said.

Favorite Ohio-set series include Jeaniene Frost’s “Night Huntress” books that see an Ohio governor mixed up with vampires and Kim Harrison’s “Hollows” novels about witches in Cincinnati.

Send your North Ridgeville news to Steve Fogarty, 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

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