Feb 18 2011 7:00pm

Eat Prey Love: On Vampires Wanting to Sleep with Their Food

Twilight movie stillThe 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.  


CowA 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.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

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.”

Robin Bradford is a lawyer, a librarian, and most importantly, a long time lover of words.  You can check her out on Twitter, on the book blog Unpaged, or read the backlist at Obiter Dictum.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
This post cracks me up--even though I continue to INHALE (ha! see how I'm funny?) vampire romances.

Charli Mac
2. CharliMac
BAH! I just finished Twilight, the book. I know, I am always late to the party. The whole I wanna eat you and kiss you dynamic was very well done, IMO. Hence the original cover of forbidden fruit. That's the pull really, you want what you can't or shouldn't have...Ohh the angst!

Now, I am very glad that a Cow was used as an example've heard about sheep. I spent a week in Ireland with 60 US cops and firemen and very few women. Our tour guide referred to a valley full of sheep as the Dingle Whorehouse. Bah bah bah goes the sheep...
Shayera Tangri
3. Shayera
lol! funny and true. I'm probably still going to keep reading vampire romances. ;-)
4. Cat
Find me a cow that looks like David Boreanaz, and I will totally hit that.
5. BeaCharmed
Very funny and so true; Nicole Peeler touches on this in her Jane True series. Jane is having sex with a vampire but never forgets that she's also dinner and has trouble reconciling the two activities.

Despite that, I'm with Shayera. :P
6. CindyS
Partly what Cat said and then there is the whole once was a human and now a vamp. If a cow looked like us, talked like us, and did virtually everything else like us then maybe just maybe we'd be falling in love with cows.

Georgiana Lee
7. Georgiana
I've been hearing that idea for years and it's never made sense to me. Neither does the whole vamps are oh so superier to humans and wander around making snotty remarks all night long thing.

Vampires are humans, with some additions, just like Spider-Man is human with some additions.

It's silly to look at what you were and be disdainful, but it is a very human trait.
Robin Bradford
8. RobinBradford
@Georgina I love that last line. Yes, yes it is a very human trait and I'd never thought of that before. That is a theme that comes up again and again in paranormal/superhero storylines. It certainly isn't new. The whole mutants vs. non-mutants has been a staple moneymaker for Marvel for YEARS.

It's especially funny with Cade because being a vampire is certainly not his preferred status. He is a very complex, very interesting character and I can't say enough good things about this book. But, it isn't a romance, so I guess I've probably said too MUCH about his book already!
Robin Bradford
10. RobinBradford
@MFrampton I just saw that book 2 is coming out in April. I am going to be SO POOR this spring!
11. Anette B

What can I say.
I am at the point where I'm gonna PUKE if I read any more books about the lone vampire falling in love with the high spirited young woman/teenager and who's blood he cannot drink. Even if he ('cos seriously, its almost ALWAYS a male, right?) has fallen in luuurve. - Uunless ofc - that the girl in question somehow and suddenly develope some supernatural killerskills herself.

Now give me that werewolf guy anytime - at least I adore dogs and don't mind to scratch their ears ;-)
Laura K. Curtis
12. LauraKCurtis
This is how I've always felt. I'm so glad someone said it so concisely. I am as into fantasy as the next person, but if all you've done with your world is to put vampires or werewolves or whatever into our world (past, present or future), you've completely missed the point and nothing on earth will make me believe your story. Twilight is a perfect example.

On the other hand, if you give me a solid Urban Fantasy, something like Charles de Lint, where humans inhabit a world that's different from ours, that's a completely different story. And one I am far more likely to read.
Donna Kissam
13. The Cat Bastet
I think Patricia Briggs did a nice job with the Mercedes Thompson series on the sociopolitical front. It's not the finest urban fantasy ever written but she's thought it out and her argument for the progression of species reveals is solid.

I have zero passion for the series because the only guy I like is the British werewolf, but better world-building than most.

I liked the fact that Karen Marie Moning let things *happen* in her world. Let humanity and the planet to feel the impact of things. That's a basic question in this genre: Are you or are you not concerned with maintaining The Masquerade? Maintaining it is an easier task than letting it drop.
14. KMserenity
I don't get simplifying humanity down to a food source for vamps, and hardly see the comparison to cows. If you go with a straightforward vamps are turned humans scenario, and not the vamps are a separately evolved species, which exists in fiction too, where else would they look for relationships but to what they know.

Assume they are born as human, raised as human, learn to live and love as human. You suggest that once being turned, the relationship degrades entirely to vamp/food source. Okay, so they limit relationships strictly to other vamps? If you can assume vamps can have relationships at all, then i would suggest those underlying feelings are based in their humanity. As such, they are also subject to the irrationality of who we fall in love with. Love doesnt always direct us to those who make the most sensible choice, does it? Romance fiction would be either incredibly boring if everyone fell in love with who they are supposed to, or dirturbingly horrorific if all the monsters fell in love with each other and spent their lives happily slaughtering everyone they cross.

There is so much variation in vampire fiction these days. Vamps feed other vamps, humans can feed vamps w/out changing, vamps kill humans, vamps feed off animals, etc. I think if an author choses to view the vamp/human relationship in fiction as comparable to a human/burger comparison, they are incredibly uncreative in either how they chose their conflict or the means to overcome it.
Keira Gillett
15. Keira
Funny post, but one catch. A human would never love a cow... but a vampire could love a human because of the folklore: all vamps were once human and a human can be turned into a vampire. As a cow can't become a human and a human can't become a cow it's not a good comparision. Though the vampire storyline does play with the whole fish/bird love scenario. Where's the nest built? Vampire romances with human love interests is like science fiction / alien romances. They're not the same, but they're close enough in appearance to ignore all the "no way this could work" signals.
Julie C
16. Jaya
I actually have issues with Twilight - mainly centering around Edward's stalking, and Bella having no problems with him breaking into her room (continuously) to like, watch her sleep (or steal stuff, or plant things in her room). And then later on when Bella seems to have trouble with the thought that Edward is leaving her because he constantly wants to kill her, and she does not want him to leave because she'd rather be dead. Or something.
Robin Bradford
17. RobinBradford
What a fascinating range of opinions!

@Keira I don't think the issue is the close relation between vampires and humanity and whether that makes us biologically compatible. Cade was probably tweaking Zach a little when he said that, but maybe not entirely. Vampire mythology is full of vamps who look down on "humanity" as something lesser (pun slightly intended) than themselves.

@KMserenity Where else would they look for relationships? They'd stick with their own kind, of course.

@Anette I'm with you. Bring on the furry! Although, I have to admit, I'm not completely vamp fatigued yet. But I'm not auditioning any new vamp series. Except this one. Damn. How did that happen?! But it isn't a romance. I don't think. There was sex......dammit, if I get involved in a new series, someone is getting a stake through the ticker.
18. AMK
I know this was written a while ago, but I'm just now reading it, and I just have to say "Thank You!" I've never been able to understand the whole human/vampire love story. To me, vampires are hunters, and humans are their prey. I wouldn't even consider a human and vampire to be similar species despite a vampire originally being human. I'm writing a story where I explore this a bit.
Also, I found this hilarious. The comparison of humans and cows was brilliant; I actually used the same example when trying to explain to a friend why I didn't think a human/vampire relationship could work.
19. julie beasley
has its only fiction we are reading. it doesnt matter, the story is always the same gorgeous sexy vamp falls willingly or not for the girl, wheather shes lunch or not. lets be fair, a cows got 4 legs and black and white spotches. hes our lunch not some fantastic looking hero who we want in our dreams.
Lindsay Beeson
20. lindsayb
Blood Oath has been sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read since the Borders going out of business sale.. I will have to read it soon! I could see the cow arguement if humans and vampires didn't look pretty much identical, but vampires were likely human at some point and are obviously humanoid. Now if vampires looked like that creepy dude from the silent film with the long fingers.. or looked demonic.. I could see them not being attracted to humans.
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