So when Kelly and Michele were kicking around the idea for a mothers and vampires theme week, I was like, "Huh. I've never really thought about that." And then I did think about mothers and vampires, and I realized that I had actually thought about this theme a lot.
Like all of my thoughts, they were disjointed, random, usually silly, and mostly consisted of "Wouldn't thinking about [insert random idea] be interesting?" These epiphanic moments, unfortunately, were usually followed up by such distractions as, "Oooo, look, hot man," or "Oooo, look, cake," or, "Ooooo, look, hitch testicles." I do live in Louisiana, after all, where hot dudes, cake, and hitch testicles abound. None of which allow me much time to focus, really.
But today I'm going to focus, a bit. In an unfocused way. I am going to talk about what I do like, and what I don't like, about the very different ways that motherhood is dealt with in various types of books.
My sort of gut reaction to motherhood in vampire fiction is one of ambivalence shaded with cynicism. I like the idea that vampirism-imparted immortality should be accompanied by the sacrifice of procreative abilities. Such a sacrifice makes sense to me. It makes me feel that the universe is balanced, and I assure myself that this sacrifice represents how nature protects itself. Then I realize I'm a moron, and if nature really wanted balance, it wouldn't have created humans as we appear intent on destroying the planet.
Perhaps, however, this desire for balance explains my gut reaction when I read some, usually paranormal romance, fiction that has a brand of vampirism that grants both immortality AND baby-making skillz. I get why such authors do it. After all, selling a heroine who was like, "I like to shag this immortal dude so much I don't care about the babies!" would be tough. And romance is about the HEA, and the romance fantasy, and it's not very romantic to make genuine sacrifices, especially when they're tinged with an aura of selfishness or non-feminine traits.
That said, and speaking of non-feminine traits, I read the hell out of books like this and I lurv them, but I ignore the baby part. Why? Because children FREAK ME OUT. I'm the most non-maternal person EVER. So I think that a huge reason I like vampire fic is that there ain't gonna be no kids. And if there are kids, they're like the kid in Interview with the Vampire, who is actually wicked old and would tear out your jugular. Because I think most kids would tear out our jugulars, given half a chance. Which is why I loved that Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In. Seriously, though, I like my vampires pleasantly infertile. Which is TOTALLY ironic, as I've done the opposite, sort of, in Tempest Rising. But my vampires aren't really vampires, either.
Ooooo, look! Hitch testicles!
Despite my motherhood anxieties, I love what Michele did in creating a post-vamp mother. After all, I'm so used to images like that in True Blood (which I don't think was actually in the books) of Bill Compson looking at his wife and kids all sad because he wants to go hug them but he knows he'll just wind up eating them. So it was nice to see a character who balances motherhood and homicidal tendencies, and I think the idea is a very clever riff on the more expected impact of vampirism on families. The expectation being that the kids will become dinner, rather than be given dinner.
In conclusion, and yes, I've just come off of reading about 400 freshman comp papers, I think that the exploration of themes regarding motherhood in urban fantasy and paranormal romance is a rich one, and hasn't really been explored by many writers. There seems to be a dichotomous way of dealing with the theme: either you can have babies like a normal human or you're infertile like a normal vampire. Books such as Michele's, which engage with this theme in a new way, have a lot of turf to explore and a lot of opportunities for some really original work.
And now I'm going to go eat some cake. Rock it, sistah!