You’ll never guess what I received from a Die For Me reader last week.
Yes, it’s a bona fide signum bardia, brought to life from the pages of UNTIL I DIE and IF I SHOULD DIE! Die For Me superfan Lisa Vespasiano actually taught herself to do all of the craftwork necessary and spent a heck of a lot of time sourcing the perfect materials before sending the finished product all of the way from Canada to France! I love it that she sent me a photo of the process:
From Lisa: “Of course I made myself one also, they are so pretty and I am glad that all my online global searching for the right pieces paid off, whew!”
For those of you who don’t know what the signum bardia is, here is the entry from INSIDE THE WORLD OF DIE FOR ME:
Creating the Signum Bardia
In Until I Die, I wanted Vincent to give Kate something to show she was under the protection of the revenants. As Vincent explained it in Chapter 23, “It’s a…signal to revenants that you are attached to us. That you know what we are and can be trusted.”
Kate’s signum came in handy when she met Gwenhaël, of course, and Bran and Kate both needed their signums to pass Theodore Gold’s security test when they arrived in New York.
So what is a signum bardia? The Latin word “signum” means: “sign, seal, mark, token.” So a signum bardia is the mark of the bardia—their token.
Once I had come up with term I needed, I had to decide what symbolism the object should hold. I decided to lean on my training in art history to come up with something both meaningful and credible.
I thought of self-sacrifice, and used the medieval image of the pelican piercing its breast to feed its young with its blood. (That’s my geeky academic side showing its face.) I wish I still had my first attempt at drawing it. It looked vaguely like an epileptic swan.
The pelican was not only too hard for me to draw, but I knew it would be difficult for me to describe in a way readers could envision it, so I decided to go for something simple. I asked myself what easy shapes could communicate a message. I’ll let Vincent describe what I came up with:
“…the pyramid is supposed to mean life after death, and its three corners signify our three days of dormancy. The flames represent our aura and the only way we can be destroyed. And the circle is immortality.”
Once I had decided on the symbolism, I had to come up with a design. I started by using this ninth ceI thought if I changed the sapphire from an oval into a triangle, it would be a good start. For the flames, I perused a few of my books on ancient jewelry (I warned you…I am a certified geek) and found a fourth century BCE Greek earring in the shape of a large round disk surrounded by a gold pellet border, a bit like my ring. But inside circle were decorative gold swirls that I thought could be shaped into flames. I imagined inlaying a triangular sapphire in the middle of the flaming gold disk and—voilà! It was perfect.
Kate describes her signum thus: “It was a gold disk the size of a dollar coin, and it was edged with two circles of tiny gold pellets, one nestled within the other. Set in the center of the disk was a dark blue triangular stone with a smooth, slightly rounded surface. And in the space between the stone and the rows of pellets were decorative gold wires curved into the shape of flames. It looked ancient, like the Greek jewelry in Papy’s gallery.”
But, for me, as beautiful and priceless as the signum itself, was Vincent’s motivation to give it to Kate:
“This isn’t just from me to you. It is from all of us to you. I saw how upset you were when Arthur said you weren’t one of us. I want you to know that you aren’t an outsider. You aren’t a revenant, but you are still one of us. This signum means that you are kindred.”
From INSIDE THE WORLD OF DIE FOR ME, Chapter 3, “Revenant Mythology”
Lisa warned me that if I wear her signum, I risk getting gold paint on my neck. So I won’t be wearing it, but WILL be bringing it to all of my signings from now on to accompany me and my books. Readers can see it in Edinburgh this July at my RARE books event!
I can’t even tell you all how touching it is when I receive hand-made gifts from you, expressing your love and enthusiasm for the worlds in my books and showing me a sample of your own creativity. A huge thanks to Lisa for the time and work and love she spent on this amazing, original piece. Isn’t she amazing?