It's the letter Aleph.
Pronounced "ah-lef," it is the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
For those who are happy to lose themselves in a book and simply read, it's an interesting choice to break up a page. However, for those who are interested in digging a little deeper, there are numerous intriguing concepts connected with Aleph.
Aleph literally represents "the beginning," and The Awakening offers the first threads of the beginning of "the end." It is connected to acharit hayamim, or the “end of days” spoken of in Hebrew prophecy and it is Aleph (which has a numeric value of 1,000) that is used by Hebrew mystics to calculate that the end will come 6,000 years into that culture's perspective of the present age. While it can be viewed simply as a symbol on a page, Aleph is the first hint that there is more to the story than simply the novel itself.
The challenge in writing The Awakening was taking complex concepts and working them into the flow of the story. Rather than having the characters hold an in-depth discussion on the concepts of Aleph, "the beginning" is used to foreshadow the journey ahead:
"Who are you?" she asked, her eyes widening as the night air began to solidify, the darkness pooling, defining a gaunt, humanoid form.
"I'm the beginning," it promised, savoring each syllable.
As if childhood fears had suddenly come to life, tumbling into the alley air with the sound of the stranger's words, Alicia exploded from where she stood, sprinting into the night. She raced away from the stranger's laughter, running harder as Mitchell began to scream.
As a story, The Awakening is completely self-contained. There is no need to have the slightest background in any of the concepts that it presents. For those who are curious about the concepts presented in the book, there are breadcrumbs scattered throughout the novel and its supporting materials. Instead of simply writing a novel, I chose to write a novel and then put that novel in the middle of a custom-built mystery. As we countdown to the publication of The Awakening in less than two weeks, I'll begin offering glimpses of those supporting pieces and insight into the story itself.
And no, I won't give any of the story away.
Instead of thinking of The Awakening as the first book in the Rebirth trilogy, it may be useful to think of it as the first act in an epic play. Every piece of the story - from the characters to the settings in which they find themselves - will lead somewhere. The Awakening (May 13, 2011) simply sets the stage for A Tide of Shadows (May 2012), which in turn builds to the climax found in Days of the Fallen (May 2013). You can read the first three chapters online for free. The Awakening will be published on Friday the 13th in both paperback and ebook formats.
Secret One: Aleph (May 1st)
Secret Two: The End (May 2nd)
Secret Three: Angels (May 3rd)
Secret Four: The Bloodline (May 4th)
Secret Five: Heaven and Hell (May 5th)
Secret Six: What Does God Look Like? (May 6th)
Secret Seven: Working Miracles (May 7th)
Secret Eight: The Four Horsemen (May 8th)
Secret Nine: Small Town Mysteries (May 9th)
Secret Ten: Photographing the Paranormal (May 10th)
Secret Eleven: Blood on the Threshold (May 11th)
Secret Twelve: Find the Thread (May 12th)
Secret Thirteen: How Does the World End? (May 13th)