Third Anniversary, with my special guest Clay Gilbert

Hello everyone!

Today, October 16th, 2013 marks the third anniversary of Vampire Syndrome blog. So, to commemorate this wondrous occasion, I will celebrate in the most logical fashion.

By featuring another author. 😈

Clay Gilbert, and his new book, Annah (Children of Evohe (Book 1).

The reason why this makes perfect sense: Two months after this blog celebrated its second anniversary, “Vampire Syndrome” was signed by PDMI Publishing. A milestone from which the repercussions are still unfolding. “Changed my life” is almost an understatement, and far more will happen by the time this blog marks its fourth anniversary on October 16, 2014.

Over the past year, I have come to know Clay Gilbert as not just an author, but a friend. He and I share the bonds of rapier-wit rhetoric, rock/metal appreciation and giving voice to characters of extraterrestrial origin. Annah, Clay’s child of planet Evohe, gets to revel in her center-stage role of main character and protagonist while my Pures from planet Sek’Met hide in the shadows as supporting characters.

Annah Cover

SYNOPSIS:

Annah, a young female of a world on the Edge of the Sea of Stars named Evohe, feels there is no place for her among her people.  She is seen as strange both for her appearance, which is different than that thought to be normal for an eighteen-cycle old seed-maiden, and for her dreams, not of finding a mate and making a homeplace and a family with him, but of exploring the Sea of Stars that she looks up at every night and longs to see.  Her parents lie at rest in the Elder Grove deep in the woods near her homeground, and, since the passing of Lilliane, the elder who had been her guardian since she was fourteen cycles old, Annah has lived alone; the ‘girl who walks with no one.’
She remains alone until the night she sees a great fire streak from the starry sky above her parents’ homeground and, following its path, finds the wreckage of what she knows from the shared Memories of her people is a star-vessel of the sort her own people had once traveled in.  Inside the ruined craft, she finds a human male, badly injured and close to death.  Torn between the Memories that tell her the people of Earth were responsible for the near-extinction of her own world and the voice of Spirit that insists all life is the same, she nurses him back to health, finding in the human Gary Holder a mirror of her own search for belonging and desire for a larger purpose. Their growing connection, and the Evoetians’ sense of humans as enemies, sets in motion a chain of events that may either destroy Annah’s world a second time, or lead to a new future of understanding:  a new age of the Shapers.

“Annah” is the first novel in Clay Gilbert’s science-fiction series “Children of Evohe”, published by Rara Avis, an imprint of PDMI Publishing. “Annah” was released on October 15, 2013, to be followed by “Annah’s Exile” in 2014 and Children of Evohe in 2015.

Annah’s World is the official site for the “Children of Evohe” series, and has a character blog featuring Annah’s own commentary about her world and her people, designed to fill in narrative gaps before and between the volumes of the series.

Meet Clay Gilbert:

Clay Bio

Clay Gilbert lives and works in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he divides his time between writing, teaching English for Strayer University, and working across the electronic sea of the Internet as the Chief Editor for PDMI Publishing. He believes, as Annah does, that it takes many notes to make up the Song of the World, and that the understanding of differences between people, nations and cultures holds perhaps the most important key to the future. This book, he hopes, will help make a difference in that. He shares his living and writing space with his cat, Bella, and his ball python, Andy. He is currently at work on “Annah’s Exile”, Book Two of the “Children of Evohe” trilogy, coming soon from PDMI.

Music Soothes the Savage Characters

Music Soothes the Savage Characters
©April 6, 2011 by Daven Anderson

I’ve been using music (and song lyrics) for my “character building” exercises. Choose three songs that you think represent a particular character. The songs you pick can give you insights into your characters (and even yourself! ) that would not be obvious from any other approach.

Here’s a sample lyric from Devo’s Peek-A-Boo (©1982 Casale/Mothersbaugh), a song I picked for my character Jack:

If you cannot see it, you think it’s not there. It doesn’t work that way.

Jack is a vampire. When you consider that vampires are “hidden” from the normal world, this ostensibly simple lyric takes on a whole new relevance. Jack has become something the normal world “cannot see” and thinks is “not there.” Thus, the quoted lyric has far more meaning to Jack (and his kindred) than to the normal people Devo was admonishing for their lack of vision.

The 1973 Fleetwood Mac song Hypnotized (©1973 Bob Welch) would seem an obvious choice to represent my character Gl’Ag, who is of extraterrestrial descent.

Now it’s not a meaningless question to ask if they’ve been and gone
I remember a talk about North Carolina and a strange, strange pond
You see the sides were like glass, in the thick of a forest without a road
And if any man’s ever made that land, then I think it would’ve showed.

The readers’ perceptions of the character, the novel, and even the author can be dramatically widened by tying in the right song. The lyrical theme of Hypnotized is an obvious “tie-in” for an extraterrestrial-descent character. But the possible interpretations run much deeper. Does the author imply that Gl’Ag’s kind are responsible for the anomalous pond in the woods near Winston-Salem? Are their kind hiding in the “place down in Mexico, where a man can fly over mountains and hills?” Is their mothership the “something” that “flies by their window . . . out on that lawn . . . which is wide, at least half of a playing field?” Are his kind’s hypnotic powers why “what matters most is the feeling you get when you’re hypnotized”?

Connect the right song to your character, and you will find out what Aristotle meant when he said, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”

There’s a tendency for authors to view their choices in music as nothing of importance. Something to put on in the background as you type. A song quoted in your pages to spice up your story, at best. This couldn’t be more wrong. Are their choices obscure? Popular? Hackneyed (such as banjo music for a backwoods thriller)? Or do they even bother with music at all? Each of these reflect very different mind sets for both the authors and their stories.

The content of this post should make it clear that each of the songs on my playlist (in my novel’s appendix) is an exercise in character development and character building. Each song I selected says something important about a particular character and makes a comment about the character’s place in my story’s universe.

My writing is intended for those who look for the hidden truths and ask the deeper questions. Yes, I’m aware this is a heavily philosophical approach for a grocery store cashier writing a vampire book. 😉

Readers of my novel who research the lyrics and songs on my playlist will be rewarded with a unique insight into my characters and the novel’s universe. If I’m lucky, a reader or two will be able to make a connection to something I missed. I dream of the time when I can make one of my readers proud at my book signing when I tell them, “You are the first person who got my intended meaning.”

Of course, novels have to stand on their own merits. The connection with music outside the novel is intended for readers who wish to expand their understanding of my novel’s characters and universe. Which leads to my all-time favorite movie quote:

Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.
Lex Luthor in “Superman” (1978)

Your novel has to stand on its own enough to satisfy those who take it simply for what it is. However, great novels should offer a universe of hidden meanings for the readers who wish to dig deeper.