I’m in Dover, DE today (Saturday)–speaking at the Dover Book Festival at noon. If you’re anywhere in the area, please stop by!
Writing The Awakening was not without its challenges. I wanted the book to be horrific–it’s the closest thing to a horror novel I’ve ever written, yet I don’t think I even came close to Stephen King terrain. (VBG) Aurora has some pretty vivid nightmares, and I intended them to be God-sent, because God is not only love, but he is terrifying to those who don’t know him and have never encountered his holy majesty (I think his holiness is pretty terrifying, actually, even to those of us who believe.)
The story exists on two levels–a novelist father yearns to know his daughter, just as God yearns to love his creatures. The novelist encodes messages to his daughter that will break through the web of lies that surrounds her just as God reveals his glory, majesty, and love in nature, in kindness, in the things we call “common grace.” The rain that falls on the just and the unjust; the kindness men can show to one another apart from God–these things stem from common grace.
Aurora is struggling to break free of her fears, but she is also being summoned on many levels. God/the father tries to reach her through many avenues, but she rejects them until they become terrifyingly real.
When I teach writing, I often talk about the need for an ACTIVE protagonist–you want a character who will DO something and not just sit around. That’s why Aurora was a challenge–she couldn’t do anything BUT sit around. So I had to give her concrete goals–baby steps, as it were, so she could strive to simply leave the apartment and get on with her life. A protagonist also needs high stakes, and Aurora’s is the highest–early on, it becomes clear that she will take her own life if she doesn’t succeed. She’s had enough of living in solitude and fear.
I was working on my theology degree while I was writing this book, and the one truth I wanted to illustrate was that no one comes to God unless the Spirit calls him first. I wanted to show that calling–that determined, relentless pursuit of the hound of heaven, the Father who summons us into the family. The calling of God is not always a gentle affair. It can have risks, and it can be terrifying. Aurora found it so.
Tomorrow: The editing