What inspired Vandella: Resilience?

Before the publishing of my first novel, Vandella in 2021, I shared a post about the story in my family which triggered my fascination about the topic of death, and how influenced my literary work and inspired the novel. If you are interested in reading how my grandfather visited the hereafter, please read the post here.

Two years later I published my second novel, Vandella: Resilience in 2023, and truth is that I also have story in my family which triggered the main theme discussed in the novel, and I would like to share it with you.

 

Decades after my grandfather’s death, when his children were older, and I, the youngest of the grandchildren, was already a teenager. My grandfather appeared in dreams to his second son, and as my uncle recounted it, the purpose of the visit was to announce that he would “come to take them with him.”

My grandfather provided my uncle with the list of the order in which each of them would die, but he did not provide a date.

When my uncle recounted this “dream” with his siblings (four brothers and a sister), everyone took it lightly, even despite the previous experience with my grandfather’s unusual death (please read the post I shared for context).

But intrigued, his siblings dared to ask who would be the first to die. And my uncle responded that the first would be the youngest son (with his sister, my mother, being the youngest). I remember that my mother scoffed, claiming that “he was the one who had the least intention of dying”, considering he was the healthiest of all.

Yet they dared to ask again who would be next, to which my uncle replied that it would be the eldest of the sons.

We could argue that in a certain way we all receive a death sentence from the day we are born, but my uncle must have sensed something in the reaction of his brothers, because he refused to provide the rest of the list.

A few years later, the youngest of my uncles suffered an accident involving a horse, causing him instantaneous death, thus setting in motion the “reaping” of souls announced by my grandfather. This was followed by the passing of my oldest uncle due to a complication of diabetes, just as it was written.

My mother and her surviving siblings approached my uncle with the intention of knowing the rest of the list, but he refused to provide it without stating a reason.

In May 2022, my mother was hospitalized for a case of peritonitis resulting from diverticula. Despite being attended promptly, she suffered a severe case of sepsis, an infection which kept her in the hospital for weeks with a discouraging prognosis. Given her critical situation, my brother and I anticipated the worst.

As if by a miracle, the infection subsided, and my mother survived. She was discharged and returned home accompanied by nurses to continue her recovery. During the following weeks her relatives were attentive about her condition, all but her brother who received the list.

My uncle called finally called months later. I was sitting next to my mother, and I could hear my uncle’s voice through the receiver. After a brief greeting, my mother reproached him, his lack of interest in her health condition, considering “she was on the brink of dying,” and if she had died, he would haven’t been able to speak to his sister ever again.

To which my uncle responded in a calm voice, “I knew you wouldn’t die, and that I could talk to you again.”

“How were you so sure?” My mother argued.

But my uncle remained silent, until my mother changed the topic of the conversation.

A few months after that conversation, my uncle passed away. And amid mourning her brother, my mother understood that my uncle was sure that she would survive her illness regardless of how critical her situation was, simply because it was written on the list, that he, and not her, was the next to die.

And it is this story of my family about the harbinger of their deaths that encouraged me to explore the main theme of my second novel. To elucidate whether with our actions we can truly shape our destiny, or if it has been already decided.

Vandella: Resilience is set in Germany during World War II, one of the periods of humanity where death literally lurked around every corner. And the story centres on a girl who soon realizes that she received the “gift” or “curse” of being able to see Death doing its errands, what will make her question if she dares to defy fate.

Here I share with you the book synopsis:

 

If Death came to warn you about your imminent passing, would you dare to defy it?

Young Bund Deutscher Mädel Peach lives with her mother in the quiet German countryside, longing to return to Berlin once the war ends and realize her dream of stardom as an Olympic hurdler for the Fatherland.

At her friend’s wedding to an SS officer at Wewelsburg Castle, the heart and soul of the SS, she witnesses a séance wherein a supernatural entity promises Nazi victory in exchange for seven children held prisoner in the dungeon. Sickened, Peach rescues the children and leads them across a war-torn Germany toward the Dutch border, with the SS forces in hot pursuit.

On her perilous journey, Peach suffers all the horrors of war—loss of innocence, loss of dignity, loss of loved ones—all while haunted by the eerie company of the Harbinger of Death.

 

If I managed to prick your interest on the story, Vandella: Resilience is already available in all online retailers. Grab your copy!

Sincerely,

M. Ch. Landa

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