I always smile when I think of the origin of UNSPOKEN. First, you have to understand that I’ve always been fascinated by Koko, the REAL gorilla who speaks sign language and lives in California. (Learn all about her by visiting http://www.koko.org/index.php).
I had seen several PBS specials on Koko and felt that there was *something* there–something that would make a good novel, but what? After all, Koko isn’t fiction, she’s real.
Fast forward a year or so. I was studying theology for my master’s degree, and learning about general revelation versus special revelation. General revelation–the truths God reveals about himself through the created universe–clearly speaks of a Creator. Job wrote:
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you.
Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.
Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.
Let the fish of the sea speak to you.
They all know that the Lord has done this.
For the life of every living thing is in his hand,
and the breath of all humanity.”
“Special” revelation is given to us in the Scriptures, and it is only through special revelation that we can learn about Christ and his provision for our sins.
Job was speaking metaphorically, but as I began to ponder general revelation and read about animals (who have souls, by the way, because the same Hebrew word used to refer to man’s soul is also applied to animals), I read that all of creation will one day be redeemed. Man was created to be the steward of the animals, we were to have dominion over them, but when man fell, the animals fell, too–not in the same way, but they were subjected to the curse of the planet just as we were. So they wait for the redemption of Earth just as we do.
I became interested in studying man and animals and how they interact as opposed to how we were intended to interact. I suspect that all animals (or most) could speak in the garden of Eden–after all, Eve wasn’t surprised when the serpent spoke to her, and Balaam’s donkey had no trouble speaking to him. As I began to put forth my ideas to some friends, I was amazed to find that some of them didn’t even believe that animals could experience emotion–and that floored me. I don’t know how anyone can live with a dog and not know that dogs have DEEP emotions.
Anyway–one night my hubby and I were watching TV in bed. I turned to him and said, “I have this idea for a book about a gorilla who can talk–and since the Bible says that even the animals know about God, if an animal could talk, what would she tell us about Him?”
Dear, sweet hubby looked at me and said, “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.”
Which, of course, made me all the more determined to write the story.
And so “Sema” was born.
Tomorrow: the reserach.