March 23, 2013

Vampires abound in ‘The Blood Gospel’

Posted in Between Us column, Books, Spirituality, Women at 4:51 am by dinaheng

Science, history, religion, and romance come together in an intriguing story that explores the origin of vampires in “The Blood Gospel,” a gothic tale of suspense written by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell ($27.99, William Morrow).

Rollins, known for his Sigma Force adventure thrillers about a secret government team of scientist-soldiers, has come up with a storyline that explores early Catholicism through the eyes of vampires who hope to save their souls by fighting evil for the church and God.Dinah Eng

For his first collaborative work, Rollins teamed up with Cantrell, a former student of his at the Maui Writers Conference who went on to publish four historical thrillers.

“James was at a museum where he saw a painting of ‘The Raising of Lazarus’ by Rembrandt,” explains Lyssa Keusch, executive editor at William Morrow/Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, who edits Rollins’ novels. “He was thinking about religion, fear, and early Catholicism, and saw how some of the symbolism in the painting — like the robes and drinking wine — is similar to what’s in vampire mythology. He wanted to write a new, more sophisticated, vampire mythology, exploring the line between faith and science, and envisioned a series.”

“The Blood Gospel” is the first in the Order of the Sanguine series, telling the tale of Dr. Erin Granger, an archaeologist, who teams with Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert, and Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest who’s a warrior in the secret sect, to investigate the crucified body of a mummified girl. What they discover leads them to an enemy from aeons past.

Keusch, who bought Rollins’ first book (“Subterranean,” published in 1999), says Rollins focused on the physical action and plot points in writing “The Blood Gospel,” and Cantrell focused on the psychological development of the characters.

Photo courtesy of William Morrow/Avon Books

Photo courtesy of William Morrow/Avon Books

“They complemented each other well,” Keusch says. “He gave her a detailed outline of the story, and she did a first draft. He did revisions, and they went back and forth, tweaking each other’s work. By the time I got it, it was a seamless blend of their styles.”

Keusch, who tries to develop franchise authors in thrillers, suspense, and women’s fiction, says the realm of vampires in the book was an interesting and fun world to develop.

“James is trying to challenge the more popular vampire mythologies by authors like Charlaine Harris or Lauren Hamilton, coming out of the mystery-crime or romance genre,” says the editor. “He talks about the scientific aspect of changing wine into blood, and why silver affects vampires. It’s Anne Rice meets Dan Brown. I don’t think anyone’s done this scientific-thriller angle before.”

She says part of readers’ fascination with vampires lies in exploring the classic struggle of good vs. evil. Romance fans may flock to the fantasy of falling in love with a non-human, and others may be attracted to the element of fear in stories like the Dracula books.

“James is really convincing in the way he lays out his speculative ideas, so he draws people in,” Keusch says. “It’s a page turner, so the response has been really positive.”


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