Coma resident and popular children’s author Dee Collins released her latest effort this week at a book signing in Coma.
Titled “I Think This Dude at My Gym is a Vampire But I’m Not Sure,” the 49-page illustrated book follows the story of Bill Ray, an avid and committed gym rat and his pursuit to determine if one of the dudes that works out at his gym is a vampire.
According to Collins, the book is intended to raise questions about assumptions and the author is hopeful it will make children pause and reflect before jumping to conclusions without sufficient facts or evidence to support those conclusions.
Throughout the story, Bill Ray finds clues that support his hypothesis that the dude at his gym might be a vampire. While some of the clues are subtle, like the fact the dude does not have a reflection in the mirror, has long, pointy teeth and generally looks “creepy,” Bill Ray can’t make up his mind for certain about whether the dude truly is a vampire or not.
“People need to not judge others by what they see on the outside or by some series of events that may turn out to be coincidence,” Collins said. “This book frames that concept nicely and children will walk away with a better appreciation for looking beyond the superficial qualities of others.”
In one particularly dramatic part of the story, Bill Ray arrives at the gym early one morning to discover blood smeared across the floor, walls and exercise equipment. He goes to the locker room to find the dude sitting on a bench, his hands and mouth covered in blood. While such evidence would seem to support Bill Ray’s assumption that the dude is a vampire, he reserves further judgement until more evidence is presented.
“Most people would walk through that gym and locker room and be like ‘that guy is definitely a vampire who just killed somebody,’” Collins said. “But Bill Ray is not most people. He’s not going to jump to that conclusion. There may be a perfectly sound explanation for what he saw. He doesn’t have enough information to draw those conclusions.”
While some critics have praised the life-like artwork, others have expressed frustration over the protagonist’s stubbornness to confront reality.
“I mean, in one scene, this Bill Ray guy finds the gym dude sucking the blood out of a lifeless body stuffed inside his locker,” one critic noted. “Come on! That is literally the definition of what a vampire is. How can Bill Ray still not be sure?”
Collins said her latest effort is among her proudest achievements and believes it can help a generation of young people start to see the world in a whole new light.
“I Think This Dude at My Gym is a Vampire” goes on sale next week at bookstores across the country.