Local author’s debut novel uses vampires to explore humanity

TEXARKANA — Every day, Amanda Langley can be found sitting on the porch of her cottage-style brick home in historic Texarkana, Arkansas, embracing the beauty of life.

Surrounded by large glass windows, she can see her lush garden in the front yard. For the first author, it is a perfect creative space to perform various art forms.

Langley describes herself as an artist, but she is more of a lifelong designer and “Jane of all trades.”

The veranda she sits in is full of objects she created herself, almost a gallery of her work over the years. A piano commands a corner adjacent to a window where the sun’s rays filter through the air and she can sit down to produce music.

From childhood, Langley played the piano, wrote stories, painted, and learned to crochet and pottery, to name a few talents. Her love for art spilled over into her professional life when she graduated with a Bachelor of Art Education.

“I chose this because I couldn’t focus on just one art to focus on,” she said.

Later, Langley began teaching and also became a muralist, with some of her work exhibited in Bloomberg, Texas.

Recently, she began to develop a series of surreal portraits and published her first novel, “Chasing Humanity”, under the pseudonym Lady Langley.

Langley designed the 28-chapter, less than 200-page book on December 28 and finished it before January arrived.

“I don’t like things that have nothing to do with history. I wanted to write a book that I would want to read,” she said.

The “dystopian slice-of-life book,” as Langley describes it, is a multi-sensory experience. Sometimes the narrator, who changes every four chapters, uses proxy narrative, guiding the reader through the story as if truly immersed rather than just reciting the text.

“It’s nothing that I had to research because I was drawing from my own life experiences,” she said. “So when I’m going to describe the character that’s going to create a bowl, I’ve done it. I’ve been there. I know exactly how clay feels. … You can go and research those places mentioned in the book .”

“Chasing Humanity” chronicles protagonist Darius Freeman’s struggle in a world where almost all people are vampires. Some of the themes include poverty, love, self-determination, sovereignty and humanity.

Humans are a protected species in the novel, donating their blood monthly to the vampire community. Vampires have more job opportunities and prestige that humans do not have.

The downsides of being a vampire are the loss of identity, humanity, empathy, and other human emotions and experiences, such as feeling the grass beneath one’s feet, the sun shining its warmth and unconditional love. .

The range of experiences includes “doing real art, dancing wacky, not having to be perfect, different things that I think show humanity — like eating for fun and playing without competition,” said Langley.

Each chapter explains how Freeman deals with the struggles of the woman he loves, deciding whether she should turn into a vampire. In an attempt to preserve her humanity, he shows her what it would be like to miss what makes humans human.

Langley said that although the book is set in a world where over 99% of the population are vampires, “we focus on the 1% who are trying to find humanity in the world. They are physically safe, but they have to navigate a world that is not made for them.”

Langley said anyone can relate to her book. A dyslexic herself, she said: “This book is for readers and non-readers. …

“Whether you’re a person of color, from poverty, an outcast, LGBTQ, or someone who feels like you don’t belong in society, then you can truly relate to the story I’m telling.”

(“Chasing Humanity” is available as an ebook on Amazon.com.)

Author Amanda Langley sits on the porch of her home Thursday, May 19, 2022, in historic Texarkana, Arkansas, browsing through editions of her debut novel, “Chasing Humanity.” (Staff photo by Erin DeBlanc)

Lola R. McClure