Book Signing this Saturday at 2nd & Charles FlatIron Crossing, Broomfield, Colorado

Can a Vampire with Down Syndrome survive, and even thrive?

Find out at my book signing this Saturday, April 4th, 2015, from 1pm to 5pm, at the 2nd & Charles store in FlatIron Crossing, Broomfield, Colorado. Get your copy of Vampire Syndrome signed, and check out the great selection of books, movies, games, music and musical instruments while you’re there.

2nd and Charles Signing Flyer Apr 2015 Negative

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Misconceptions About Down Syndrome

Huffington Post UK: 12 Common Misconceptions About Down Syndrome

The twelve misconceptions listed in this article are important to understand, but they are only the beginning.

In fact, the major driving force behind my creation of the Vampire Syndrome Saga isn’t any of these twelve. The central message of my saga is “Cunning, quick wit and high IQ scores do not equal wisdom.”

A rabid Vampire’s bite thrusts my protagonist Jack Wendell into a world of rapacious, reclusive human monsters who foist quick and lethal judgments upon those they consider to be “too slow” to survive and thrive in their cloaked domain. Soon after, the Venator law enforcers find Jack to be a much more difficult target than they ever suspected. Assuming they could even find Jack in the first place. Try as they may, they fail to realize Jack has a simple yet unimpeachable wisdom guiding his lightning legs across the numerous routes of his elusive escapes. Like many other humans (Vampires or not), the Venators over-think and over-analyze themselves into an inability to compete with those who just do the right things at the right times. The zen of Jack, inverting the concept of ‘disability’ into super-ability. Within the Venators’ pursued “mongoloid” beats a heart as fearless as the Mongol warriors of legend.

Jack’s continued survival unlocks a key the Venators had been burying within all of their previous ‘special’ victims. The key to a possible peace with the fearsome Pure Vampires, shark-like alien carnivores who strike terror in the hearts of all human vampires. Yet the Pures sense something inside Jack that no other human Vampire can match.

The major misconception humans (Vampires or otherwise) make about Down Syndrome is that the average person tends to equate speech level with cognition level. The perception persists that individuals with Down Syndrome have ‘slow’ cognition to match their ‘slow’ speech. If this line of thought was true, mute persons would have no cognition. And we all know that isn’t true.

In the Vampire Syndrome Saga, you are inside Jack’s head, free of the perceived limitations of ‘slow’ speech. From within Jack, you can see the difference between his thoughts and his verbiage. It has been said that people with Down Syndrome have to expend twice as much brainpower as a “normal” person to make the same amount of speech. Which accounts for Jack’s stammering, saying thoughts out loud intentionally, speech-stumbling over certain words, etc.

Some of my readers have commented that Jack seems “too cognizant” for a person with Down Syndrome (never mind that his 90 IQ is quite close to the statistical ‘norm’ of 100, more than enough for fully functional reasoning).

Other persons who have read my book have Down Syndrome, or close family members with Down Syndrome. And all of them so far have told me they consider Jack to be right on target. Guess whose opinions matter more to me. 😉

SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

A big thank you to Angie Hodapp for this link! 😀
SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

SARAH: Is there enough disability in SFF?

ROB: I think there should be more.

So do I, and I wrote it: Vampire Syndrome

Vampires ride in style

In “Vampire Conspiracy”, Jack gets a ride to the Vampires’ secret airstrip, in style. The classic Soviet-era-design Zil limousine is the very definition of “imposing”.

ZiL 4112-R

The Metaphor

One of the many little details hiding in Vampire Syndrome is a metaphor.

Is is the human condition? Well, I do have the alien Pure Vampires, whose DNA bought about the existence of the genetically-mutated human Vampires. The “Humans”, as the Pures call the human Vampires, embrace their humanity with passion, even when they shouldn’t. The “Normals” (non-vampire humans) deem the human Vampires monsters, but of course no human ever considers themselves to be a monster, human Vampires included.

So, we have these beings that are basically human, yet infused with basal, predatory urges, courtesy of the mutations performed to their DNA sequence by the Pures’ DNA.
A metaphor for the human condition?
Yes, and a rather illuminating one (if I presume to say so myself).

But that’s not the metaphor I’m referring to.
The combative relationship between the human Vampires and the Pures is a metaphor for the vampire itself.

How the evolution of culture has shifted the vampire from the grave-escaping revenants of old-world folklore to the sympathetic, revered heroes of romance.
And how the core supporters of the “classic monster” verbally joust with paranormal romance fans.
Vampire versus Vampire. Old versus new. Demon versus angel.
What the vampire was, versus what the vampire is.

Not to worry, my human Vampires are not “totally Twilight”. Damien and Lilith are as twisted as their rocky 253-year marriage. Zetania feels disconnected from Normal humans after the last of her Normal human family died off. And Jack’s battle to be the champion of human Vampires will far exceed even the challenges he faced in becoming a record-setting Special Olympics champion athlete.

Yet each values their humanity. The difference between them and the carnivorous Pures. The two-legged sharks striking terror in the hearts of all human Vampires.
An apex of fear the Normal humans will never know, except in their collective subconscious. The demon monster of old, refusing to die, rising forth once more to challenge its progeny, the human Vampires of today’s stories.

Even mine.

Meet the vampires of “Vampire Syndrome”

Jack Wendell

down-syndrome1-300x252
Physical and Calendar Age: 19

Former Special Olympics champion sprinter and 400-meter sprint national record holder. Now the world’s fastest running Vampire, able to run at over 100mph for long distances. Retains his sincerity and good will towards others while living and interacting with a Vampire population generally not known for these qualities. Jack gets his first girlfriend in my trilogy’s second novel, “Vampire Conspiracy”. Jack’s heroism and unique abilities gradually become known to the world’s human Vampire population… and others. 😈
Bricks

Damien Tepesh

CBAP
Physical age: 39
Calendar age: 267

Chief Venator (law enforcer) of the United States region. Targets Jack for termination, as Venators traditionally do when they discover a new special-needs Vampire. Jack escapes two of Damien’s assassination attempts, eventually causing Damien to reconsider his position about Jack.  Damien enjoys fast cars and fast women. Damien has been married for over 250 years, and has had several mistresses as well.
Bricks

Lilith Morrigan

Jessica Chastain
Physical Age: 44
Calendar Age: 308

President of the world’s human Vampire Community. Breaks with her own Venator past by protecting Jack from her husband Damien. Feels some maternal instinct for Jack, but Lilith realizes she would not make the best adoptive mother for him. The conflicts over Jack push her relationship with Damien to a breaking point.
Bricks

Zetania Vinescu

fortune_teller

Physical Age: 25
Calendar Age: 135

Chief Venator of Romania. Summoned to Colorado by Damien, to help him hunt Jack. Lilith over-rides her husband and orders Zetania to protect Jack from Damien and the other Venators. Zetania gradually realizes Jack’s incredible potential, and discovers that Jack may be the key to help Zetania and the Romanian Vampires end their dispute with their most feared enemy… one way or another.
Bricks

Ronald and Diane Pepper

Ron Diane
Physical and Calender Ages: 40

Ron Pepper, Jack’s former Special Olympics coach, and his wife Diane are the closest that Jack has ever had to a real family. Damien and Lilith come to a rare agreement and choose the Peppers to be Jack’s new adoptive parents. Damien and Lilith turn the Peppers into Vampires and hire them as private investigators. The Peppers’ longtime hobby of investigating cattle mutilations becomes their full-time occupation, as they finally uncover the mystery of who is behind all of those mutilations.

Bricks

Stella Reynolds

StellaKP
Physical Age: 27
Calendar Age: 71

Lilith’s presidential secretary and Damien’s current mistress. Over the last 250 years, Lilith has killed Damien’s previous four mistresses (and several other women who had short-term flings with Damien). The fact that Lilith hired Stella to be her secretary suggests a major change of strategy on her part, in which she plans to heighten her control and influence over Damien.

Bricks

Gl’Ag

Gl'AgPhysical Age: Mature Adult Male
Calendar Age: Over 25,000 years

The human vampires’ worst nightmare. And he realizes Jack’s true potential far more than any human Vampires can.

Bricks

Fred Henderson

Fred HPhysical Age: 41
Calendar Age: 266

Chief Mechanic, the MacGyver of Vampires. Owner of Roman Auto Salvage. His kindred’s predilection towards fast cars ensures Fred’s job security. Enjoys customizing pickup trucks and hunting deer. Owns a large collection of vintage film prints, including an original print of “Nosferatu” acquired during his vacation to Germany in 1922.

Bricks

Tivor Sebestyén

Tivor
Physical Age: 25
Calendar Age: 43

Mute autistic Vampire, native to the city of Debrecen, Hungary. Pursued by Hungarian Venators upon his change to human vampire in 1991, reported “missing, presumed dead” that same year. Confirmed sighted by several U.S. Venators in Colorado twenty years later. Possesses a unique superpower that could be dangerous to the human Vampire community.

Man with Down Syndrome runs N.M. restaurant

ABC News: Man with Down Syndrome runs N.M. restaurant

Tim’s Place

CBS News: Tim’s Place restaurant takes unique approach thanks to special owner

I dedicate this post to the reviewer who said my character Jack Wendell was too cognizant to have Down Syndrome. I’d be only too happy to invite them to share a lunch with me at Tim’s Place.

😈