June 2, 2010 – The Book of Joshua

I had a long drive home from school today.  We got out at 4PM, which is pretty late to be trying to get out of Nashville.  Not quite as bad as 5PM, but not nearly as good as 3PM.  I was doing alright, having not gotten slowed down too much where I-440 merges onto I-65 (the worst problem spot on my way home), but there was an accident (which wasn’t on the radio when I started home) on I-65 and I got stuck in bad traffic.  It took quite a while to go a couple of miles so I could get off the interstate.  And then it took quite a while to go a mile or so once I got off the interstate.  I stopped to get groceries, but traffic was still quite heavy as I went from Brentwood to Franklin the back way, so I could get around the accident on the freeway.

So, what’s the point, you ask.  The point is, when you’re dead in the water on the interstate, you can’t do much but sing along to the radio and think—and I did a little of both.  I got to thinking about Joshua.  My husband thinks I should have a book (eventually) just about him, and I rather agree.  (I know I have already discussed his complete and total awesomeness.)  I had an idea of what his background was, but I found myself rethinking it today in the car. 

I have this vision of Joshua’s story opening with the burning of the Temple in Jerusalem.  That just seems like a great opening (certainly would be from the perspective of a movie, and there are many, many times, when I see and hear my characters as if they were in a movie).  The Temple was burned in 70 A.D., which is more than 100 years before my original plans for Joshua in 193.  But what’s 123 years added to his lifespan when he’s already a minimum of 1,800 years old? 

My husband already had the idea that Joshua ought to be some sort of Jewish freedom fighter, fighting against Roman occupation.  And, I admit, that idea is intriguing, but it too works best if it’s set around 70, which is when the largest Jewish revolt happened (they actually succeed in driving the Romans out of at least part of Judea; the Romans, of course, came back).  

But what I really got to thinking about in the car on the way home today—and what has really sold me on the idea of setting Joshua in the time period of the burning of the Temple (as opposed to the Diaspora), is that I recently found out that the Romans, in an attempt to prevent further Jewish rebellions, took many of the wealthy and priestly-class Jews of the city (including their entire families) and sold them into slavery.  I think that makes the setting for my book.

Joshua (who probably is mixed up with the rebellion in some way), belongs to the priestly class.  He comes from a wealthy family and is very educated.  He is captured by the Romans and sold into slavery in some other part of the Empire (location yet to be determined).  He gets bought by a vampire.  The Canichmehah still keep Yaechahre as slaves at this point (hence the original meaning of the word, “ours”), and this is what Joshua becomes.  They feel like they are doing him a favor, because being a slave to Romans sucks pretty bad.  The Canichmehah are downright civil to their slaves in comparison, since their main concern is blood, not service so much. 

Joshua, however, is a prideful young man, who doesn’t take very well to a life of servitude.  And he goes from living in Jerusalem, which was considered very cosmopolitan (by Jewish standards), to being part of a nomadic group of people herding goats and sheep out in some desolate waste.  A female vampire ends up putting him in his place.  Once his pride is sufficiently broken, he quits looking back to his past and starts looking towards his future.  What can he do here and now to make his future life better?  Because of his intelligence and education, he becomes a favorite of his group.  He is encouraged to marry and he and his wife have a number of children who survive infancy (5-8; haven’t decided on the exact number yet). 

After his wife’s death, one of the vampires in his group manages to talk him into becoming a vampire, and thus truly begins the life of Joshua, destined to one day be the Supreme Leader of the Council—and leader of the Canichmehah during their darkest, most desperate days.

And, it should go without saying, that having gone from a high social position (which he was born to; he didn’t earn it) to being a slave, and then back up through the ranks (earning it this time around), Joshua has a lot of sympathy and understanding towards those who are below him.  He understands, better than some, perhaps, that anyone can climb from the bottom to the top, and it’s best to be respectful to every person, because you have no idea if you yourself might have to answer to that person one day.  And he has a lot of humility about his rank as Supreme Leader, despite having held it for 500 some-odd years by the time Kalyn meets him, precisely because he was once torn down from a lofty position.  The scene that is trying to coalesce out of the fog in my brain–which involves him and a female vampire who puts him in his place–is, I think, a lot of the reason why he ends up being fascinated by strong-willed women.  Kalyn’s lack of deference to him in the first book subconsciously reminds him of that first woman he knew.

One of the reasons why I like my new idea for him better is that I get a chance to show how vampires—and Yaechahre—used to live.  The tribal, nomadic way of life was dying when Joshua was taken in.  Of course, it existed for quite a while after he became a vampire, but it was clearly on its way out of popularity.  Living in cities was becoming the norm, and thanks to the influence of the Roman Empire, living in cities outside the middle east became increasingly popular.  Of course, if one wants to track the migration of vampires, one pretty well only has to view the migration pattern for Jews at the same period in time.  Especially after the Diaspora in 193, Jews went into other parts of the Roman Empire, and eventually pushed northwards into Europe.  If you imagine vampires doing the same thing, then you see how Anselm, born in England, ended up a vampire. 

The one telling difference between vampires and Jews, however, is that vampires have always been more culturally inclusive.  Jews managed to survive without a homeland for nearly 2,000 years because the vast majority of them lived as a culture within a culture.  They adapted to their surroundings, to be sure, but they kept to their religious and cultural traditions within that national culture, and so managed to keep from disappearing, like pretty much every other people that’s been conquered throughout history. 

Vampires, however, have always had to be inclusive because they can’t produce their own offspring.  By their very nature, they have to accept outsiders.  Also, while their own culture is strongly monotheistic, with a shared history with that of the Jewish people, religion is not what defines you as a vampire.  So, while they were in the middle east, the Canichmehah tended to adopt people from other monotheistic tribes—like the Israelites, the Moabites, the Midianites, etc.—they didn’t have any injunctions prohibiting the “marrying” in of heathen peoples (later known as “Gentiles”).  So when vampires moved out, away from Judea, and their supply of Jews dwindled, they weren’t above taking in pagan or Catholic peoples. 

As I said yesterday, Joshua’s story is going to take a lot of researching.  I already know a lot about my vampires’ history, but there’s still a lot I have to read up on to place Joshua accurately in his time period.  And what I’ve talked about there isn’t enough for a book; something exciting needs to happen after Joshua becomes a vampire.  I don’t know what yet, but I’ve got 1,900 years to play around with him.


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