Vampire Tampons

SA_REVISED.indd I get mail. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s a genuine question, or someone who thinks they’ve found a plot hole and wants to gloat, but I’m pretty sure this is the former. Reader C.A. writes in:

Subject:
Hi

Message:
Hi Lili,
I’m a huge fan of your books, and I know you’re crazy busy so if you can’t reply I’ll just make up my own answer to my question. But something’s been bugging me for while about the Strange Angels world. What happens when a svetocha gets her period? If the djamphir smell the blood, how does everyone deal with it?
Anyway, thank you so much for writing that series. For the record, I loved the ending. I finished the series when I was around the same age as Dru, and having the girl be the most important one in the story was something I really needed at the time.

*Reader C.A.’s full name redacted*

First, dear C.A., I am so, so glad the ending gave you something you needed. That is important to me, and it makes the fighting I did for that ending all worthwhile.

Now, on to the menstrual cycles of half-vampire girls! I am happy (is that the word?) to say this is something I thought hard about. When the first physiological changes begin to happen to prep Dru for blooming, her blood started getting the happy stuff that drove the boy djamphir crazy. The problem comes, however, only when enough of the blood hits the air. (I tried to ask Dru about the exact chemical reactions in the oxidation, but she doesn’t like chem.) A nosebleed, for example, is right there on the face, exposed to air the second it shows up.

Menstrual flow is tucked into a different bodily space. Also, it’s a sloughing–most of the time it’s old blood and tissue, instead of straight from the vein. It’s not quite as potent as, say, bleeding from a laceration. (Except ritualistically, but that’s–say it with me–another blog post.) Except near the end, when there’s a trickle of fresh blood because the walls of the uterus are raw.

The menstrual cycle is some fascinating shit, let me tell you.

So the solution is: tampons. Svetocha tend to have irregular cycles before they bloom, and Dru had a bit of amenorrhea due to the stress of killing her zombified dad and running for her life, so it didn’t come up often. The Kouroi don’t go into the girls’ bathroom–that’s how Dru could be attacked in the shower scene–and as long as she’s a little conscientious, it’s largely moot.

Plus, Nathalie, like a true werwulfen friend, could tell Dru if she was, you know. Leaking. Or about to leak. Or bring Dru her homework for a couple days if necessary. The small wastebaskets for such products in the girls’ loos at every Schola had an ingenious method of sealing each, um, little package, sort of like a Litter Genie.

There was a scene where Nat had to tell Dru to button up and they would talk while Nat stood guard at the stall door, but it didn’t survive the revision process. It’s a pity. Along with trying to force me to give Dru a romantic ending (when she clearly did NOT need one) the publisher also got kind of weird about her menstruation.

I could go on, but I suspect it would be uninteresting. Suffice to say blooming, as a component of puberty, is a messy and uneven business, dependent on several hormones and other processes within the svetocha‘s body. (I also won’t go into the uses Anna put some of this knowledge to.)

So…yeah. I spent a significant amount of time, while writing YA, thinking about half-vampires wearing tampons. You’re welcome.

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Mel Sterling
Mel Sterling

Litter Genies.

Only you, Lili.

Michael Mock
Michael Mock

I remember having a conversation online about how women in modern English literature (of essentially any genre) almost never appear to have periods, and how deeply odd that is considering that roughly half the species have periods for a not-insignificant fraction of their lives. And yet, for the most part it’s not even mentioned obliquely — I can think of a few exceptions, but they’re notable precisely because they’re exceptions.

martianmooncrab
martianmooncrab

this is something I thought hard about.

it always amazes me how much doesnt make it into the books… the footnotes, indexes, sidebars and other references would be thrice as much material.

Cally
Cally

I am so glad someone asked this, sixteen-year-old me had wondered.
As C.A. said, thank you for fighting for that ending. It was excellent and the right to be excellent is something that seems to get forgotten in most young adult fiction.