6 March 2013
Had a great time this past week leading a Forum on “Inside the Heart of Twice a False Messiah” at Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church (DAPC) in Saint Paul. A number of family members showed up, and between them and the inquiring minds of DAPC regulars, we had quite a lively discussion. The focus of attention was meant to be on how various Christian elements work their way through the book, and mesh (or clash) with themes in the other monotheistic desert religions—Judaism and Islam. We touched on items like Unity vs. Dualism; the power of the Word; and the complexity of understanding different streams of faith, such as disparities between the Western church (Protestant and Catholic) and the Eastern (Orthodox) and Monophysite branches such as Maronite, Copt, Thomist, etc.
But we soon diverged into personal backstory, which sidetracked us into how past journeys of mine contributed to elements of the story, and how the use of inside references (e.g. “. . . the leeward side of Martinique . . .” or ” . . . the house on the bridge in Cesky Krumlov”) was meant to signify something special to certain readers.
We also talked about how the input of advance readers, prior to publication, had modified the telling of the story. One example: as a quick aside, explaining how the narrator is beginning to question the limits of western rationalism, I had dropped in this tidbit: “Then too, there’d been the . . . band of witches who’d changed my snickering to full-blown terror in one excruciating Walpurgisnacht of demonic assault. I’d escaped with my life—but little else—intact . . .” But I had said no more about that particular night. Advance reader Kevin Cole told me I was crazy not to explore that further. How could I leave the reader hanging? And so an entire subplot was born.