When most people pick up the latest bestselling thriller or murder mystery, they are typically looking for some good entertainment. Makes sense, and with that expectation, they better get what they are seeking or there will be a let down. I've read quite a few murder mysteries and a short list of crime thrillers and that was my expectation too.
But the stories that linger in my imagination, repeat in my daydreams, and give me metaphors for life are not the usual genre fiction. I like to be wowed, but I like even more to be left thinking about characters, analyzing their plights, victories, and struggles. Many fast paced thrillers can only go so deep in a high speed pursuit of the plot.
I began writing The Nobleman years ago while my wife was slaving away on her masters degree. With no toddlers to chase, i.e time on my hands, I took a break from writing the fantasy series I'd been working on (The Reaper's Seed) to venture into a plot line that had been on my mind. I began with a new writing voice, and an idea that fit well into a murder mystery/thriller-like drama. At the same time I began writing this story, I had been doing a lot of thinking about "equality." Specifically one of the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: ". . . that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator . . ." That next part about the government securing these rights was the political hot topic, but I was enamored (and still am) with the fundamental importance of the Creator part. To me it was, and still is, the keystone to a healthfully functioning American government.
Also around the same time, I had watched and greatly enjoyed a movie called "Crash." For some it was just an edgy, racially charged film, but to me it was inclusive in the way that it showed the ability for all sorts of people in all walks of life to make the right or wrong choice when faced with adversity. It felt to me to be a wonderful expression of equality: all equal in the the value given them by their Creator, but all broken to one degree or another. It resonated with me.
And so, getting back to The Nobleman, I found these thoughts and debates energizing my characters and the development of them. The Nobleman became a mixed-genre novel that is filled with people of various races, sexes, vocations, and economic status. Here's how they are all the same: they are all broken. But I took it a step further in this way - the characters in The Nobleman are all created in the image of God, their Creator, and . . . they are broken. This very much expresses how I see the world. Mankind is a very special part of creation, but we are a messed up species. The sheer volume of evil in this world is staggering. But that is not the end of it - we are capable of doing beautiful things. So what is it? Are we naturally bad with the ability to do good? Or are we naturally good with the ability to do bad? Can anyone actually be a noble person? Or is it that we only ever think we are doing the right thing, only to find that hindsight finds us as lacking? I would encourage you to ponder and puzzle out that question. My own answers to this complicated and very important question are rooted in my Christian faith.
Who fills the jacket? Who fills the trench coat? Who wears that hoodie? People are the point and the problem. I've definitely written The Nobleman to entertain, but I hope reader's will also find some depth where they may not have expected it.
If there is one way I would describe the last three months, it would be "writing on the edge." I know, it's been three months since my last blog post, so that begs the question: what exactly do you mean, "on the edge?"
I don't mean to say that writing, or trying to write has me standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump. That would be more like the desire to write without the time. And I don't mean to say, necessarily, that my writing has been edgy - so new and exciting that I'm on the outskirts of the craft. (Perhaps one day).
What I mean to say is that I have been writing on the edge of life. Literally, the edges of the day. There is a very popular quote from Toni Morrison that came in response to someone asking her when she found time to write: "On the edges of the day." I think I can relate. Between a day job, my wife, children, a house (that I am trying to renovate), a large garden that I greatly enjoy, yard work, exercise, and my community of faith, there is no time. All that is left is the edges. Appropriately so, I might add.
So I'm no complaining, don't get me wrong. Waking up at the crack of dawn (in mid July), or well before the sunrise is a privilege. I find at this time in my life I have a vision for writing. I have a thirst for it. I have a drive that I can keep alive simply by the art of imagining what my characters really would do in a present situation. And at times, I simply have to wake up to complete unfinished business. People live are at stake! And I want to know how I can better describe a scene, a person, a smell, a sound. I want to figure out how to use words, and combinations of them that enter the reader's head and and paint a picture, giving them feelings that they wouldn't otherwise have in the course of their day.
And in the same way that the sunrise and sunset are some of the most beautiful times of the day, I'd like to think I've been capturing some beautiful writing. I guess the readers will decide.
Soon, very soon, I will be sharing some of what I've been spinning in the wee hours of the morning, and after the children are in bed. "The Nobleman" is coming soon.