Readers often ask what the inspiration for a book was. On the release day for Nopeming Shores it seems very fitting to share the unusual inspiration for the book by the two people who wrote it. J. Andrew Lockhart joins me today, adding his thoughts after mine.
Current events were part of the story inspiration. I conceived the basic plot about 18 months ago, when my brother in-law was deployed to Afghanistan. I saw how difficult it was for my sister to have her husband gone.
Personal tragedy inspired the character, Gabe. Years ago, my father was violently taken from me. I think anyone who's experienced a sudden loss, recognizes the turmoil it creates. You have a million questions that can't always be answered. You wish you could have been there in that last instant of life to sooth their journey into the afterlife.
In the hours, days, and weeks following my father's death, the Holy Spirit visited me several times. Despite any notions you may have of me, I am a practicing Catholic, and I believe and love the intercessions of the Holy Spirit. They brought me great comfort.
On one occasion, my father's ghost also visited. I won't deny it was shocking to see him - frightening even. Luckily, he was whole again, and able-bodied. He walked to the foot of my bed and waved goodbye. He wore a wry smile, as if to say, it's okay now. I won't say that after these visits, everything was hunky-dory, but I had a bit of peace to cling to.
So, I had these ideas about not wanting to let go of the one who has died, and the pain survivors must endure. That became the angst Gabe and Lily felt. They were in their early 30s, and married for about six years. Although Gabe had a dangerous job in the military police, Lily and Gabe didn't let that control their future. They had plans to start a family – to have their happily ever after. In an instant, their future was taken from both of them.
Lots of times, we get the notion that spirits soar into some sort of bliss after death, and spend eternity with a smile on their face. I'd like that to be true, but I really don't believe it. In this book, Gabe is as devastated by what happened as Lily is. It's so bad, that his spirit can't leave the confines of earthly existence. God grants him the opportunity to help Lily rebuild her life and, in turn, help him sever his ties to humanity. Don't expect a religion lesson; this story is about two people coping with their grief.
My friendship with J. Andrew Lockhart led me to choose his poetry as a gentle way for Gabe to reach out to Lily. I found a kinship with Andrew because his own tragedies and together, we really understood the story and the characters.
When Margie first asked me to write poetry for the book, I was uncomfortable about writing for a fictitious person. The more I saw, though, the more I realized that I had so much in common with Gabe.
When I was 30 I had an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke. My wife and I had a one year-old son, and I was beginning my life as an attorney. My world ended on that day.
After years of rehab and memory loss, I ended up an elementary music teacher, a father of four children, and a writer.
My story, after 15 years, has a happy ending, but many times I think about what would have happened if I had ended up like Gabe. That is what drove me through this book. It was much more emotional than I thought it would be. I would spend many nights thinking about how I would handle his situation, and how my wife would have taken it. It took me a while after the book was over to be able to write as "me" again.
I'm very glad that I did it, though. I actually learned from Gabe, and I was also able to give Margie the insight from a man who has "been there." I think it's a wonderful story.
|J. Andrew Lockhart and Margie Church|
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