Vintage Soul F.A.Q.

Hey, everybody!  It’s time for another one of those posts – you know, the ones that it’s important to toss in here early, but will keep coming up again and again and will probably earn a link on the main sidebar before long.  It is time for…

Frequently Asked Questions!

Q: Is Lucy December really a Jewish vampire?

A: Yes, she is.

Q: A Jewish Vampire?

A: Yes.

Q: Seriously?

A: Seriously.

Q: How does that work?  Isn’t blood non-kosher?

A: You are correct, eating or drinking blood is expressly forbidden in the Torah.

Q: So how exactly can she be a Jewish vampire?

A: For the same reason that Judaism survived the destruction of the Temple.  Understand, according to the Law, worship had to be at the Temple (or the official Tabernacle), and had to include specific sacrifices and rites performed by the priests.  But when Israel fell, the temple was destroyed, and all of that went out the window.  What happened?  The Jews adapted.  They created the system of synagogues and rabbis (which still persists to this day).  When the Temple was rebuilt, they went back to temple worship, but once the second Temple went down, it was back to adapting again.  The Jews are survivors.

Likewise, if you go according to the Bible and Rabbinical history and traditions, a lot of laws could be bypassed in times of great need.  You could not work on the Sabbath, but if your prized donkey fell into a ditch, you were allowed to work and rescue it.  When David and his men were starving, they were allowed to eat special priests-only food to keep their strength up.

And so is Lucy.  She has to drink blood.  She cannot even substitute animal blood.  She has no choice.  So she drinks blood.  Does she feel guilt over it?  Yes, actually.  She may not admit it, but the lady has a tendency to “forget” to eat.  And even then, think of all the other laws she can’t fulfill – Lucy cannot do anything overtly religious, or it burns her.  Sometimes she tries, but she can’t.  She can’t observe a high holy day.  She can’t perform any of the prayers.  She can’t even rest on the Sabbath if she is actively thinking, “I am resting on the Sabbath.”

Q: So then what?  You said this story has hope, right?

A: Yes, it does!  And Lucy actually explains it, too.  You need to go look at the Book of Esther.  It’s short and a fun read, so I’ll let you handle it.  Okay.  Got it?  Jews in persia, almost wiped out, Esther becomes the queen, yadda yadda.  Most of us know it at least a little bit even if we aren’t Jewish or Christian.  But here’s the deal:

Esther and Mordecai were unfaithful Jews.

In fact, all the Jews in that story were the ones who refused to return to Israel, and in fact had rejected the religion of their fathers.  Mordecai was named after Marduk.  Hadassah was a Hebrew name, but she renamed herself Esther – Ishtar.  She also shtupped a pagan king and became part of his harem.  The book never mentions God directly, and does not include even a single prayer – the Jews described clearly held to some of their own traditions, but they were unfaithful.  So what does this have to do with Lucy?

The point is, God protected His people anyway.  Even though they were unfaithful and cut off, He saved them and held them close.  Lucy – and she specifically mentions this at one point – uses that story as the source of her hope that maybe, just maybe she hasn’t been abandoned, and maybe, just maybe there is hope for redemption someday.  Maybe.

Q: So are you Jewish?

A: This question was covered elsewhere.  Go and find it!

Q: When is the book’s release date?

A: Depends.  At this moment, I am finalizing edits and prepping it to query literary agents.  If it is picked up… about a year or two.  That’s publishing.  But if, after  certain amount of time and based on feedback, I choose to publish through Amazon directly, then the wait time will be much less.  I will sacrifice distribution and potential audience and professional editing/cover design/etc., though.

Q: But I thought indy publishing was the wave of the future!  Why are you going for traditional?

A: Honestly, I was all geared to have it indy published by the end of 2014, but then an author, who shall remain unnamed, gave me some very pointed and poignant advice that basically consisted of, “Your work is really good, and your work is what’s selling right now.  At least try to get it traditionally published first.  If you fail, then you’ve made contacts and learned a lot.  If you succeed, then you will get to see your books on shelves.”

So you know what?  Sure.  I wrote this thing, the least I can do is give it a good college try.

Q: So if it doesn’t sell to an agent, does that mean you suck?

A: No, not at all.  Publishing might as well be show business – they only accept stuff that is trendy and there is a glut of trendy submissions.  Ruthanne Reid, author of Among the Mythos,  recounts in her bio that every agent rejected her… but more than one stated that they loved her book and would have bought it on store shelves.  It simply was too “weird” for a publisher to take a risk.  She chose self-publishing because of market demands.  I am usually the kind of person who devalues my own skill, but I have gotten enough feedback from real, genuine authors and critics that I know what I have is good.  If it doesn’t get an agent, then it doesn’t get an agent, and I will move forward anyway.

Q: Are you depressed?

A: That’s kind of a personal question. And the answer is, yes-no.  I get depressed at times, but usually only in short bursts, and never to the extent of self-harm or suicide.  Mostly, I just become really cranky and self-deprecating for a week or so.  I am fortunate in that, instead of requiring therapy and medication, I can make do with a few hugs and someone telling me, “Stop it.”  Not everybody gets to live like that, so if you do have problems, get some help.

Q: So what about the whole Funny Vs. Mean thing?

A: Like I said, I can get self-deprecating at times.  This also invites people to mock a little, so it can get messy unless checked.  Funny Vs. Mean is a rule I try (and often fail) to follow concerning treating others.

Q: But aren’t you insane?

A: No, it’s the rest of the world that’s crazy.

Q: What’s all that about getting set on fire and shovels to the head?

A: When I was a little kid, my sister decided to dig a pit in the front yard (possibly to catch robbers).  She accidentally nailed me in the forehead with it.  Six stitches, a tiny scar in the eyebrow, and no permanent damage.  But man, did she feel embarrassed!

A few years ago, I was at this wedding where, during the reception, everybody held up sparklers in a gauntlet for the couple to run through.  And then somebody came by with a bucket to douse the sparklers.  Problem is, A: there was no water in the bucket, and B: someone had thrown a lighter in there.  So when I tosed in my sparkler, the lighter exploded in a fireball reaching up to my elbow.  My shirt got burned, my jacket was intact, and the skin on my arm tends to heal a little slowly.  But it’s funny!  Now can you ask more about the story?

Q: What is the Ars Goetia, and why does your story use a demon from it?

A: The Goetia is a set of occult writings found in the Lesser Key of Solomon which essentially forms the foundation of occult spirit-or-demon-summoning thought.  It has its roots in the Testament of Solomon, a first-century-ish document claiming that Solomon received his wisdon not directly from God, but through demons who were bound to serve him.  The exact details and listing of demons changed over time and entered other cultures (for example, there is an Islamic tradition that Solomon summoned Djinn), but more or less achieved its modern form in the 16th Century.  Even then, the Goetia as we know it now was permanently solidified in the 19th Century occult movements.

I used demons from it because this source has been mined surprisingly little.  People like finding monsters and baddies from stories, but unless you are playing an obscure Japanese RPG, you will find that Goetic demons just don’t show up as often in stories as expected.

Q: So are you pretty heavily into the occult?

A: No.

Q: But it looks so real!

A: I have a Master’s Degree in history.  I researched, and put just enough of it in my book to make it look genuine while not adding so much that people would get offended (or possessed, heh heh).  I also took some leeway to make a more exciting story.

Q: Wait, you… took liberties?

A: This isn’t a religious tract, it’s a story.  Enjoy it on its own merits.  Don’t take it too seriously, and enjoy it.

Q: Okay, so how do vampires work in your world?

A: They’re pretty classical.  Post-Dracula, at least.  Undead, immortal, can’t go out in the sun, vulnerable to anything “holy” (associated with religious faith), silver, wood through the heart, fire, and decapitation.  Most injuries heal, although a lot of damage at once can strain a vampire and stick around for a while.  They need to drink blood or starve.  No reflectiosn in traditional mirrors or silver-based film, though digital is fine.  They cannot voluntarily cross running water or enter private residences uninvited (though the invitation can be a real stretch).  Certain transformations are automatically gained (bat, Big Ole’ Monster), but others must be learned.  Some natural magical ability over time.  They also breathe and eat normal food and act like living people, but they don’t have to breathe or eat normal food.  You get turned if the vampire forces you to drink some o fits blood as well, though the transformation can be reversed if you do not die soon after.  Make sense?

Q: So no sparkling?

A: No.  No.  No.

Q: Do they call themselves the Kindred?

A: I hate you.

Q: Is it all Judeo-Christian, or are there going to be creatures from other myths and religions, too?

A: Just wait and see.

Q: Are we ever going to get more previews?

A: Yeah, sure, maybe.  We’ll see!

Q: So why did you write a story about a Jewish vampire?  isn’t that, like, impossible?

A: Oi, vey…

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