That Could Be
family could be in Northern California during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. And yes, we
had our fair share of quirky characters, as all families do. Laced in there were
some serious hours doing service at our local church, mostly because that’s
what my parents had done, how they had met, in the shadow of my grandfather,
who was an evangelist.
or much of anything in the way of values, other than as it relates to my
characters. I’ve always said I’m a Christian with a bent antennae. I’ll
went on behind the production number that was the stage. And that’s where I
think the real story is. I got to see the women, kids in tow, coming to my
grandfather’s house in the middle of the night, after being beaten by a raging
husband. Those things really do happen in the real world. I’d see them at
breakfast the next day, and watch as my grandfather would hand out a free meal
or a little money to people out of luck. He told me the “hobos”, as we used to
call them, marked his fence so one that followed would know there was a kind
person living there who might share a scrap of food. I once gave my favorite
teddy bear to a little girl who was about 4 and clearly was afraid. I was
afraid too. Afraid for her future. I often think of her little face, standing
in my grandfather’s kitchen, barefoot, with syrup running down her chin.
things they do. And what choices they make in life. I didn’t want to go into
religious studies. I wanted to know what motivated
them. So, in college I majored in Psychology.
beginning to see them have children, I still don’t really know what makes
people do what they do. But I know how to write it down.
my first book, and it was the book that seized me one cold December day when I
was visiting my daughter for her college graduation in Portland. We were snowed
in that day, and the graduation (mid-year, smaller) was cancelled. And like the famous story of Mary Shelley, who wrote
Frankenstein, we started talking about stories as we went around the room. I
had been dreaming about angels, but not anything close to the angels I’d
learned about in Sunday School. These were fully fleshed out beings with
personalities, in a beautiful place with gardens and classrooms so they could learn
about human life.
human world like a moth is drawn to a light fixture. The story developed that
her attraction to all things human was what made her such an effective Guardian
Angel. And she had a 100% track record, unlike anyone else.
she might fall in love so hard, that she wanted to give up her wings and become
human. And so I explored what that would look like, how she would feel, and
what the consequences would be.
Heaven isn’t 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn’t 100% evil by
beings had free will, human as well as angelic. And I wanted her to push the
boundaries. And not just push them, I wanted her to fall off the edge and watch
her recover, if she could.
done. It was 92,000 words. I asked other writers I was becoming friends with if
that was normal, and realized I am a prolific writer. Now that version has been
re-written over 50 times now, vetted and critiqued on the contest circuit,
where it did very well. It took a lot of people to help me wrestle with this
behemoth first novel. But the end result is something that is near and dear to
my heart. The premise and the ending remained the same.
power. And I have to say, when I shut my eyes and tune out everything else,
that someone else is there.
won’t send you back to church. But it might make you believe in perfect love.
For life doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to be fully enjoyed. We don’t have to
be 100% perfect to love or be loved.