“I started to cry harder. Stop it, I said to myself. Vampires don’t cry, they have no feelings.”
This is an excerpt from the genius that is Vampires and Tea, the full-length, 500-page book I wrote during a nocturnal summer when I was 12.
I would wake up around noon and go to sleep around three am, only breaking this schedule if I wanted to go to the pool. I haven’t always been a writer, but I have always been a reader, and this was the first span of time when I gave up one completely for another—writing instead of reading.
It follows the story of Charlotte as she tries to protect her embarrassingly-large family from werewolves, and deals with her feelings for a hunky werewolf named Nathan and an actually horrible vampire named Gustav (yes, Gustav).
The narrative in my book was half an actual story and half commentary on that story. Whenever there was major plot development or a character makes a questionable choice, I would throw in an “uh oh” or a “this can’t be good.” My story was incredibly similar to Twilight and incredibly embarrassing.
Twilight and its sequels were a perfect group of novels for someone my age. Perfect meaning that it had a terrible message with definite and problematic gender roles and a female main character so mundane that audiences could not fathom why two powerful mythical creatures—who were also equally void of personality—were willing to die for her.
The genius of Twilight is that it taught teenage girls they don’t have to be witty, pretty, smart, friendly, funny, or even nice to attract the attention of men. But the obvious downfall of it is that young girls felt like they didn’t need to strive to better themselves and they need to give up everything to win a romantic partner. I’m guessing my book tried to follow this structure without the terrible message.
It’s similar to reading one’s own diary. At the time, you felt like this would be so profound and would change the way people thought about things. But of course it’s absolute rubbish. My own diary only chronicled what white-bread teenage boy I was in love with that week or how much I secretly hated my friends, and it served as a sounding board to complain about how mundane my little life was. This was somehow a little more personal.
“Vampires usually have supernatural powers. Every vampire can run fast others can fly or be invisible or whatever. Every vampire can fly and I can read minds. Surprisingly that is a rare gift. I think I am the only known vampire that has it.”
Fun fact: this character development is ripped right from Edward’s character in Twilight, and I never came back to this plot point.
I can see parts of myself in different characters. I add in little jokes from shows I liked. I make characters with names and personalities of people I liked or didn’t like. One character was based off of a boy who called me fat in third grade, and another was literally just Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
My main character had everything that I wanted, but I made her complicated. She was rich, smart, and beautiful, but she was also promiscuous, anxious, insecure, moody, and combative. She was a strong fighter, but would also cry in public. She was incredibly beautiful, but uncomfortable about how tall she was. She was a strong, confident 18-year-old woman but also an acne-ridden, overweight 12-year-old girl. Better than a diary, this book gives me a picture of the girl I was almost a decade ago.