A reader, who recently finished Vampire Rising, commented that it was different from my other books mostly because with the others I spent a lot of time on character development so readers really got to know the characters. And that is true, with What Binds Us, we follow Dondi, Thomas and Matthew for ten years; in Unbroken, we first meet Lincoln at age six and Jose at age 12. Their story spans 40 years and we watch them grow from children into brave young men and on into parenthood.
Vampire Rising is a very short book. It tells the story of the damaged Vampire, Gatsby, who is still reeling from a decision made 200 years earlier that saved a life and cost him his love, and the young human, Barnabas, who, abandoned by his mother, becomes a ward of the state, unwanted and invisible for too long.
But the story really isn’t about Gatsby and Barnabas; the story is an allegory, it’s a metaphor for how (poorly) we treat those considered the least among us are a metaphor. But, I tried to give readers a feel for who each is as a person and how he is seen through the eyes of the other, and I do hint at their personal histories, at their back story but I never fully explain either. And that was deliberate. I wanted to focus on the messages in the story.
I looked to great works of fiction as inspiration for Vampire Rising. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Harper Lee’s To Kill and Mockingbird, and the Bible, all informed the book.
These words spoken by Atticus Finch in To Kill and Mockingbird inspired me to replace the signature bat with mockingbirds in Vampire Rising. For the Vampires, like blacks, like Jews, like gays, are not sinful, or guilty, they simply are. And they are innocent in their simply being, in their inability to be otherwise, in their authenticity.
“In manus tuas domine.”
These words spoken by Gatsby to Barnabas, are a quote from Dracula (Van Helsing mutters it on first entering the house of Dracula); the words are also an abbreviation of the last seven words Jesus is reported to have spoken from the cross. Translated as “Into your hands Lord,” these words underscore one of the book’s central themes: trust is essential to life, to love, to partnership.
But it is the address of Gatsby’s house—197 Chicksand Street—that most informs the book. The address, taken from Stoker’s Dracula was the address of one of the houses Dracula buys in and around London. In point of fact it is not an existing address but if it was, it would fall squarely in the center of the area where Jack the Ripper was most active at the time Stoker wrote Dracula.(Read more here.)
But what intrigued me most was the number: 197. It is an “angel number”—it is believed that angel numbers are used by our guardian angels to communicate with us. I’m not sure if Stoker chose that number specifically, deliberately, or not, but it worked perfectly for the story I was attempting to tell. Despite its darkness and violence, Vampire Rising is a hopeful story, as all my stories are. The number appears in everything related to the book. We chose the release date, July 19, to align with the angel number. July 19 in Europe is abbreviated 19/7. The book’s pricing was also influenced with the eBook, listing at $1.97 and the paperback at $7.91 (the angel number backwards).
So what exactly does the number mean and why was it so important to the book? I’ll quote a blog from Joanne Walmsley, Psychic Medium and Lightworker:
“Number 197 is a blend of the influences and attributes of number 1, number 9 and number 7. Number 1 relates to new beginnings, starting new ventures, motivation and progress…achievement and attainment. Number 1 reminds us that we create our own realities with our thoughts…and actions. Number 9 resonates with…leading life as a positive example for others, benevolence and altruism, serving your soul mission… Number 9 also denotes endings, closure and conclusions. Number 7 brings its influences of…determination and persistence of purpose, inner-strength…and psychic abilities.”
Further, she adds:
“Angel Number 197 also indicates that you are shedding old facets of your life that no longer positively serve you nor suit who you are as you are now living a more authentic and purposeful life and lifestyle.”
And that is exactly the point of Vampire Rising—that we can only be happy, fulfilled when we can be our authentic selves, without fear and with trust in those we love. Did my angels lead me to read Dracula to show me my book’s angel number? I don’t know, but I would like to believe they did.