The idea of vampire hunter falling in love with vampire is as old as the genre itself. What could provide more conflict than the predator falling in love with the prey? The conflict becomes a little less conflicted when the prey turns out to have a heart of gold who just needs to be loved/understood/hugged.
A throwaway line in Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath made me stop and think about the fantasy of vampire/human love story. It wasn’t the tragedy that pitted a vampire’s eternal life against a human’s negligible 80 years, more if he or she were lucky. It wasn’t even the tragedy of the damned/soulless heathen in love with the pure/innocent/fragile human. No, a conversation between Farnsworth’s two principal characters put a new spin on the whole idea:
“I thought vampires were all sex gods with the ladies.”
Cade looked at him. “What gave you that idea?”
“Uh . . . late-nite Tv, mostly. . . .”
“Humans are our food. Do you want to have sex with a cow?”
Blood Oath (121-2)
Talk about a glass of cold water on years of romantic vampire fantasies. It isn’t that vampires are bad, humans are good, and never the twain shall meet. No, it’s that vampires are hungry, and humans are cheeseburgers. I absolutely do not want to have sex with a cow. How, then, am I supposed to believe that humans, who are genetically designed to provide sustenance for vampires, can go from being lunch to lover in the space of a few pages? It isn’t possible!
Even if you add in extra points for the “super” humans among us (you know, your Buffys, Sookies, etc.), the fact is that, in the realm of vampire lore, humans are made to feed vampires. It isn’t like that equation ever runs the other way, after all. You never see humans rounding up vampires to process them into yummy hors d'œuvres. (You’ve all seen Buffy S3, ep 9, “The Wish,” right?) No human-on-vampire feeding frenzies. WE are the liquid diet. Honestly, I’ve looked at cows, and they may be cute, but they sure as hell aren’t sexy, know what I mean? Yet book after book, readers have no problem buying into the fact that vampires can (and do) fall madly in love with their version of a turkey sandwich.
In the end, books exist as much in a reader’s imagination as in the author’s. An author may create the world, and the characters, but readers don’t read in the author’s imagination. They bring their own world (and worldview) right into the books with them. It’s the reason books continue to excite readers after they’ve been read once or 100 times. It’s the reason, love it or hate it, that readers are inspired to create their own fan fiction. It’s the reason stories, whether composed before the use of papyrus or in tomorrow’s post-paper world, will always exist.
In Farnsworth’s story, Cade, the President’s Vampire, finds humans as sexy as humans find cows.
To Cade (and Farnsworth), all I can say is, “Moo.”