War of Nytefall: Rivalry has a bunch of celebrations and feasts. That isn’t really a spoiler since I’m not say the who, why, and finale to those events. Yet, it opens the door for a question that I’ve been asked a few times. People expect vampires to drink blood, but you tend to throw many off when those same vampires are having a slice of pizza or a mug of beer. The concept of these monsters eating human food and not getting sick gets a fairly strong reaction. Probably see some in the comments. So, why and how did I give this ability to Dawn Fangs?
First, I will make it clear that only Dawn Fangs can eat mortal food. Old-world vampires can only ingest and get energy from blood. They can get slightly around that by adding blood to a recipe, but that really only works with drinks. Eating a steak with blood on it will still cause digestive issues that can really only be solved by slitting open their bellies and removing the meal. Dawn Fangs don’t have to worry about that. In fact, they tend to overindulge since they have insane metabolisms when it comes to non-blood food. Many newly turned Dawn Fangs will stuff themselves silly in an attempt to see how much they can it before they get sick. That or they’re thrown out of the tavern. So, eating has become a big part of Dawn Fang life because it’s a joyous activity that the older ones thought they would never be able to do again.
I was on the fence about if I would grant any benefits to this beyond me being able to write eating scenes. For some reason, I have my characters eat and drink a lot, especially when they’re talking in a group. Anyway, I wasn’t sure how complicated I wanted to get with the blood vs food issue. Blood became less important when I decided that Dawn Fangs have working hearts, which means they can create and pump their own blood. There are times where it feels like they drink it out of habit, but it definitely gives them a bigger power boost. This way, they don’t run out of it when fighting or doing anything extraneous. So, blood is still the main fuel of the Dawn Fangs.
Food is different because it gives them energy that they can burn through faster and more often. The nourishment that they get from food goes primarily to their brains. It creates pleasure that keeps them calm, but also gives them a subconscious sense of being more than monsters. Dawn Fangs have strong emotions that can get out of hand, especially if they are struggling to figure out their place in the world. Only drinking blood makes them feel like a monster, but food has a big cultural impact. Friends talk over meals, families cook together, a favorite drink after a hard day, and so many other things revolve around even a snack. The psychological impact is probably bigger and more important than the energy they gain.
So, that’s how it works, so why did I do it besides my love of eating scenes? That’s really it . . . buy a copy of War of Nytefall: Rivalry . . . Oh, I guess that’s not a good enough answer. Seriously, I’ve actually had the Dawn Fangs eating food thing since their earliest incarnation. This is back when Clyde and his friends operated off of Earth with no connection to other series. Originally, it was just a quirk that I gave to him and his friends because they were always hanging around mortals. The scenes I tested them with felt strange with them hanging around a restaurant and not having food. Then, Titus drank a beer when I wasn’t looking and that was basically it. Figured that it was better to add this quirk instead of risking more screw ups when I was writing hungry. Not the most amazing answers, but it led to an important decision later on.
Once Clyde and the other Dawn Fangs came over to Windemere, I looked at what I had and focused a bit more on the eating part. Immunity to sunlight and eating were the only two non-vampire abilities that they really had. The second one is what drew me to the idea of Dawn Fangs being more like mortals with heartbeats and later the ability to sexually reproduce. After that, I came up with the idea of Clyde wanting his people to integrate with mortal society. They had the skills and abilities to blend in with their neighbors, so why wouldn’t they do it? Of course, it could be seen as a predatory trick, but I liked the idea of them showing they could be peaceful. It ran very contrary to Clyde’s violent nature and demonstrated how much he’s fighting against it. And the idea started with the eating of food.
By the way, I’ve found out that vampires eating food either for energy or with no effect has been done before. So, there is a history to it. What do you think about this quirk? What food would be your first one if you were a vampire who could suddenly eat again?