It's always entertaining to imagine what the fictional characters from your favorite books would look like in person. Furthermore, the fun is heightened when you're an author who discovers their main character has a real-life counterpart.
Smyrna Middle School eighth-grader Tori Galloway floored her mom's new boyfriend, Michael Messer, when mom proudly showed off a few Facebook photos of Galloway to Messer a few months ago. Upon seeing the pictures, Messer immediately knew he was staring at Angela Poe: the friendly vampire girl with blue eyes and blonde hair from his new tween/teen vampire book: "Forever Sixteen," released in December. Before the book was published, Messer received permission from Galloway's mom, Robin, to have her shinning face featured on the back cover of the book.
"I actually took the book to school one time and I showed my friends and they were happy for me and excited," said Galloway, 13, during a book signing with Messer and a handful of family at The Young Bean Coffee Shop on Saturday afternoon. "It's really cool."
The lowdown on the book
For the last 400 years, Poe the bubbly vampire has been 16. Desiring to escape the underworld in Europe, she flees with her parents to the small city of Hohenwald, Tenn. Unlike her parents and the other vamps, Poe is immune to light.
In Hohenwald, she befriends two humans: Eric Hodges and Steve Shepard. But Poe discovers she and her parents aren't the only vamps in town. With two evil vamp girls named Samantha and Elizabeth intent on breaking up Poe's friendship with the humans, Poe must do everything in her power to save their friendship, and maybe their lives, too.
Sinking his teeth in
The concept of "Forever Sixteen" was planted by Messer's 10-year-old daughter Angela, who gave him the initial idea to pen the story when she was around 7 or 8.
"She told me a story about a girl named Angela the vampire cheerleader," smiled Messer, 52 of Felton. "It's really her idea; I just stole it from her and just changed it around."
After Angela told Messer the story, the wheels eventually started spinning. Messer packed up and moved back to Tennessee in late 2011 and stayed until the fall of 2012 to capture Hohenwald's ambiance for the story. He lived in a hotel the first couple of months and later found an apartment, he said.
For "Forever Sixteen," Messer knew he wanted Poe to be a 16-year-old who was kindhearted, but not a cheerleader. His goal was to create a vampire version of Casper the Friendly Ghost who was suitable for both tween and teen audiences. Hence, Messer strayed from splattering the adventure with blood and guts.
Page 2 of 2 - Being that she's a nonviolent vampire, the lovable Poe survives by sipping blood "from a little juicy [cup] with a straw," said Messer, who added the blood is likely from a "blood bank."