Heather James is an aspiring fantasy YA writer, currently cramming writing sprints into toddler nap times.
Why does popular fiction always assume that vampires have no self-control? According to every vampire novel and TV show in existence, one bite and we become raging feeding machines, unable to stop until the very last drop has been sucked from your veins.
But is that really realistic? Does that mirror human feeding models? “But you’ve lost your humanity!” I hear you cry. “You’re soulless, bloodsucking machines!” While both of those accusations are technically true, we were human once. We remember what that self-control was like.
Think about it; if you open a box of Oreos, you don’t find yourself unable to stop after one bite of chocolate biscuit and vanilla cream goodness. Have you ever sat consuming biscuit after biscuit until you’re left with nothing but an empty, ravaged box, a few crumbs and enough sugar in your veins to keep a toddler awake for a week?
Okay, maybe that wasn’t a good example.
But that’s only because there was no emotional context: draining a body down to its very last drop of blood is different to decimating a pack of biscuits. If there was an important reason why you shouldn’t eat the entire box… imagine if someone’s life was at stake… you’d be able to stop then, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t gorge on an entire box while a small, starving child sat watching. All that plump flesh and blood wasting away without a sugar hit to sweeten it up.
So why should it be any different for vampires feeding on humans? I mean, last night I was with this guy – oh man, he tasted good; he’d definitely been eating something sweet – and when I could feel the pressure of his blood begin to lower I just-
Nevermind. You know what? You don’t need specifics. You just need to know that I – like all vampires – have exemplary self-control.
Don’t even get me started on this so-called ‘vegetarian’ vampirism all the characters in paranormal fiction seem to be into. Ignoring for a moment that even the name doesn’t make any sense, the idea that we are so devoid of self-control that we can’t ever feed from humans is ridiculous. If you knew the Oreos in your cupboard were for a special occasion and were worried that eating one would send you into a downward Oreo demolishing spiral, you wouldn’t substitute them for a Rich Tea, would you? Because, let’s be honest, no one actually likes Rich Tea biscuits; you might as well go chew on some cardboard. And if you did, for some self-masochistic reason eat a Rich Tea instead, going on and on about it definitely wouldn’t make you more romantically desirable; it would make you boring.
Who wants to be boring? What’s the point in an eternal life filled with cardboard Oreo substitutes? We’ve got eternity to work on our self-control; we’ll all get there in the end.
So this Halloween, when your friendly neighbourhood vamp asks you for a bite to eat, don’t run, screaming, off into the distance. You’ve got enough blood to spare. Think of the Oreos.