Author: Edmond Manning
Characters: Edmond Manning with a brief peek of Vin Vanbly and King John.
If I were to invite you to pick a day of the year—any day of the year—and tell you that this day had magical properties, you would most likely pick August 2nd. Then, I would tell you that you will eventually measure the success of your life when August 2nd rolled around each year. You would change your diet for August 2nd. I would then promise you that you would sometimes get unreasonably sad on August 2nd or have great expectations for August 2nd.
I would explain August 2nd would take on cosmic significance (and by cosmic, I mean outer space significance) for you, for your family, for anyone in relationship with you. They would define you by how very August 2nd you were.
To these suppositions, you would tell me I am an idiot. Crazed. None of my August 2nd predictions for your life make any sense.
But now, switch out August 2nd for the day you were born. Reread those first paragraphs considering your birthday. Something tells me that you would say, “Well now, this is different. That’s my birthday.”
But of course!
Everyone knows you don’t just happen to get born randomly on that day—no, sir—that’s the date the universe, or maybe God, wanted you to be born because then you would be a Capricorn, and to live your life fully, you would definitely have to be a Capricorn. In fact, you’re such a Capricorn, you tell people about your sign and how perfectly it fits your personality.
We obsess over birthdays. We have strange expectations. We want to use it as a milestone for measuring success in life. We want presents, we want cake, we want other people to remember it, or forget it, or perhaps we want our meaningful relationships summarized with just the right card, just the right words. We read predictions based on planetary alignment and based on the anniversary of birth and nod knowingly because Jupiter’s placement in the heavens influenced why we’re always late.
Face it. Birthdays are weird.
It’s a random, arbitrary day and we celebrate it.
Sure, you were born that day. It’s the anniversary of your time on earth. That’s nice to recall, yes. But the day before and the day after your birthday are really, really close to your birthday and they don’t invite the same navel-gazing, and big-expectations as THE EXACT DAY you were born. They are nothing. That one special day is everything.
Years ago, I had a friend who would get angry if friends didn’t remember his birthday. And by ‘remember,’ I mean ‘plan a party.’ He found it personally offensive if forty people didn’t show up for his big dinner. This year, I celebrated a friend’s 50th birthday party at an expensive restaurant in town. On the drive to the restaurant, she told me she was excited to pick up the check for all of us. This gesture meant to her she had arrived. In the next breath, she forbid me from telling anyone at dinner it was her special day.
People get weird around birthdays.
I am no different.
Years ago, I called home to ask my mom for the exact time of day I was born. (I was planning to see an astrologer who needed my exact birth time to chart how planet alignment impacted my ability to follow-through on projects.) My sister answered the phone and after a kerfuffle on their end, my sister returned and said, “Mom doesn’t want to talk to you.”
This was a bit dramatic for my quiet mother.
Again, I heard muffled conversation while they argued. I heard my sister say to my mother, “Well, I’m not going to tell him.”
My sister returned and said, “She’s afraid you’ll get mad at her.”
Mad? Over what?
My sister said, “She doesn’t know what time you were born. Or—don’t get mad—which day.”
I felt myself get dizzy.
My own mother didn’t know the day I was born?
“Well, it was the sixties and they put her on a lot of drugs. The nurse filled out your birth certificate either on the exact day or the day after you were born. She can’t remember now. She says she doesn’t want you to be mad at her.”
My brain flipped out. My whole life was a lie. I wasn’t born on the day I expected, I was born on the day prior! I didn’t know anything about that fucking day! It was like finding out I was adopted, and my birth parents were our next door neighbors, neighbors I never paid much mind.
While I reeled in shock from this news, my sister started laughing and in the background, I heard mom laugh too.
“Just kidding!” My sister said gleefully into the phone. “Mom’s looking up the exact time on your birth certificate right now.”
I was sullen and resentful for the rest of the phone call.
People are weird about the anniversary of their birth.
In the series I’m writing, The Lost and Founds, the main narrator, Vin Vanbly, hates his birthday. He hates it. He also chose it. As will be revealed in Book 5, Vin never knew his real birthday, so he was afforded the luxury of picking one. He picked the month of March as his birth month and over time, came to hate not only the arbitrary anniversary of his birth, but the entire month.
This secret is hinted at in Book 4 of the series (King John, which comes out in August 2015). During a lazy, relaxed conversation, the title character, John, makes a strange request of Vin:
“Tell me something that nobody else knows about you. None of the other kings. A secret.”
I ponder this. Doesn’t take long to come up with an innocuous and cryptic answer. “I’ve never kinged a man in March. In fact, I hate the month of March, so I probably never will king a man during that month.”
“And you’ve kinged someone every other month of the year?”
“Why pick on poor, defenseless March? Other than the weather.”
“Nope. One big truth is enough. You said you wanted to know something unique and I told you. I never promised to reveal the secret behind the truth.”
I guess everyone is weird about the anniversary of their birth.
Of course, I can’t blame all of you for acting so weird.
Not everyone can be lucky enough to be born on August 2nd like me.
The universe wanted me to be a Leo.
After graduating from Northern Illinois University (NIU) with an English Education degree (graduated Valedictorian from the University Honors Program), Manning pursued and completed a Masters of Science within the field of Instructional Technology. These two curious backgrounds allowed for practicing a unique blend of creative and technical writing, skills that were enhanced over a 22+ year as an e-learning consultant.
During those consulting years, Manning feverishly wrote fiction, completed three novels, and yet never pursued publication because the writing simply didn’t meet his high standards. Something was missing: a spark. Looking back, Manning prefers to believe that he was living out Malcolm Gladwell’s maxim: you’ve got to ply your craft for 10,000 hours before you get good. Yes, that would be the preferred belief.
In 2008, Manning experimented with writing a new type of fiction, and ended up with his first “kinging” novel, published in serial format on a free website. (The original novel has been removed from that site.) The intense reaction from hundreds of readers around the globe suggested to Manning that something had indeed changed, so he decided to create a new novel based off these wild, frothy characters.
The result is King Perry.
Feel free to email Edmond Manning your birthday wishes: firstname.lastname@example.org. Books by Edmond Manning include: King Perry, King Mai, The Butterfly King, and I Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That (non-fiction)