The new literary mashup: Amish romance and vampire tales
The Amish and vampires also meet up in "The Living and the Undead."
Author Rob Stennett was inspired in part by other mashup books like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."
If those worked, why not Amish vampires thought Stennett, a novelist and creative director at a Colorado Springs, Colo., megachurch.
In Stennett’s tale, an Amish teen named Eli runs away from home and meets up with an older vampire, who takes him under his wing.
Not only does Eli now have to cope with the modern world, he also has to deal with being a vampire.
That means he goes from being a pacifist to having to kill in order to survive, said Stennett.
Plus being Amish means he doesn’t know the first thing about being undead.
"He didn’t grow up reading Bram Stoker, so he doesn’t know the mythology of vampires like most of us do," said Stennett.
The book started as a satire.
One of Stennett’s previous novels, "The End is Now," pokes fun at Christian ideas about the Rapture. In the book, God decides to do a test run of the apocalypse in a small Kansas town.
He wanted to call the vampire book, "Obadiah: Creature of the Night," and write it as a comedy.
Instead he got caught up in the story of Eli, who learns the hard way that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. He has to find someone to reconcile his Amish past with his vampire future.
The conflict intrigued Stennett. He also said that many people struggle to make sense of faith while growing up. So there was a universal side to Eli’s struggles.
Patton Dodd, editor-in-chief of The Washington Post’s religion website On Faith, agrees. Dodd acquired "The Living and the Dead" while working for Bondfire Books, which published the e-book.
It started with a joke but ended up with a compelling story, he said.
"Rob and I both related to the idea of this character who was raised in a conservative religious environment and who has always wanted to escape it and experience the larger world — but then, once he does and tries to return home again, he finds that he has changed in ways that make home-going profoundly difficult," Dodd said in an email. "That’s a pretty widely shared experience."
Stennett also sees at least one parallel between the Amish and vampires. Both are secret societies that are often closed to outsiders — which is part of their appeal.
They also offer readers a chance to escape from the real world. Amish novels show a simpler life, where family and faith matter more than technology, said Stennett.