Book Trivia

Vampire Rebellion Series

The Abandoned Cincinnati Subway

Photo by Jonathan Warren via Wikipedia. Shared under CC BY-SA 3.0 License. No changes made.

In BLOOD CAPTIVE, the characters happen upon an abandoned subway in Cincinnati. Once upon a time, the City of Cincinnati actually did try to build a subway system. Initially planned as a sixteen-mile loop around Cincinnati, only a few miles of the subway system were ever finished. The remaining project fell to the combined forces of corruption, war, reform, and, surprisingly, prohibition. Over the years, the City debated countless uses for the few miles of “finished” tunnel, from bomb shelters to party scenes, though none of them eventually came to fruition. As of this writing, portions of the subway tunnels remain beneath Cincinnati, although they’re no longer available for legal access or tours (so please don’t go looking for them unless you have official authorization to do so!).

You can read more about the abandoned Cincinnati subway (with pictures!), via Atlas Obscura and the website Abandoned Spaces.

The Great New England Vampire Panic

Photo courtesy of Cbarry123 on Wikipedia – Public Domain image {{PD-US}}

In BLOOD CAPTIVE, Ulysses references the Great New England Vampire Panic and the Exeter Accords. Back in the 1800s, there actually was a vampire panic throughout New England. Tuberculosis was sweeping the land, and the illness was sometimes blamed on vampires. To deal with this, relatives of the deceased, townspeople, and occasionally even preachers and town leaders would exhume the bodies of the dead, remove their hearts and organs, and burn them. The ill were then instructed to eat or drink the ashes of the burned heart, in an attempt to overcome the “vampire” draining the life from them and thereby cure their tuberculosis.

One of the more famous stories from this time is of Mercy Lena Brown, a nineteen-year-old young woman from Exeter, Rhode Island, who died of tuberculosis. Her mother and sister had already preceded her in death by nearly a decade, and her brother lay dying as well when she passed. The townsfolk concluded that a vampire was at work on the family and insisted the bodies of the dead be exhumed. Mercy’s mother and sister showed regular decomposition after a decade of being dead. However, Mercy (a.k.a. Lena to her family) had only been dead a short while and had been stored in freezing conditions. Her body was barely decayed. Thus, the townspeople decided they had their vampire, and so they cut out her organs and burned them. Despite her brother consuming the ashes, this was not enough to save him, and he died a short while later. However, legends and stories of Mercy Brown remain to this day, in which she is said to lurk about Exeter, a vampire still.

You can read more about the Great New England Vampire Panic and Mercy “Lena” Brown in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Forever After: Crimson Snow Series

Apples

In OF NINE SO BOLD, Melisandre’s discussion of the word “apple” and its power is inspired by a fact I stumbled across quite randomly: that until around the mid-seventeenth century, the word apple in the English language was in fact used to describe just about any fruit or berry. Per the website of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in Britain, “the common name for apple comes from the word ‘æppel’, an Old English word meaning fruit.” (see article on the Kew Gardens website). 

Similarly, the Judeo-Christian tradition of believing Adam and Eve ate an apple as the forbidden fruit of knowledge could be traced to a quirk of French. Per Rutgers:

Latin authors most commonly refer to the forbidden fruit as a pomum, a Latin word meaning “fruit” or “tree fruit.” Not surprisingly, Old French, which descends from Latin, has the word “pom” (modern French “pomme”), which originally meant “fruit” as well, and was used in the earliest Old French translations of Genesis.

“Adam and Eve ate a pom,” meant “Adam and Eve ate a  fruit.” Over time, however, the meaning of pom changed. Rather than a broad, general term for “fruit,” it took on a narrower meaning: “apple.” Once that change in meaning became widely accepted, readers of the Old French version of Genesis understood the statement “Adam and Eve ate a pom” to mean “Adam and Eve ate an apple.” At that point, they understood the apple to be the fruit that the Bible itself identified as the forbidden fruit and began representing it in these terms. (see the article on the Rutgers website about apples as the forbidden fruit).

While as always, I took some artistic liberties with this concept, it intrigued me as a magical symbol, which is what gave rise to Melisandre’s focus on the fruit. 

Get free stories and 10% off in store!

Subscribe to Sierra Rowan's mailing list for all the goodies today! 

Great! Check your inbox for a confirmation link to get your discount and freebies!