I'm still working on getting right-side-up after my Dad's death at the beginning of the month. But one of the other things it has caused me to do is think back on the type of stories that appeal to me.
And I am reminded of the fact that, even before I ever even entertained the notion seriously that I could lose my father, fathers and father figures took a prominent place in my fiction from the start. I'm very big on writing about loyalty. Ends-of-the-earth loyalty. And who better to represent loyalty than a father? Our Heavenly Father demonstrated the ultimate loyalty through Jesus--who in sacrifical love offered His life for us. Our earthly dads--well at least many of them--demonstrate love and great loyalty too.
My first novel, Principle Engagement, is about a man who, while not a father, and not even thinking about fatherhood at the opening of the novel, finds himself thrust into that situation when his long term, loyal search for his wife leads to circumstances he could not have forseen.
My second, unrelated novel goes to the flip side. What is the depth of sacrifice and effort that a fiercely loyal son will go to to get his father back and clear his name?
Fathers can either be portrayed as caring for and leading their family, or they can be loathesome--poor examples not only to their family but to others. In the first novel, I've already decided the outcome. In the second novel, which I actually perceive will end up being a series of 3 books, my decision is not made.
Both in my day job and in observing the world around me, I know full well that not every family's life is pretty, or even remotely ideal. Putting away the superficial things like economics, fathers can make or break a family. We've all heard stories of very courageous fathers, and at other times, stories of fathers that are so horrifying we can hardly believe any person would act that way toward someone of their own blood.
But these are the relationships that beg me to write and examine the what ifs. And my father's death has reaffirmed to me that no matter what else happens, even if I never finish any other books, I WILL finish those two novels. How can I not finish something that has so clearly been laid as a burden on my heart?
And if someone learns something about love and loyalty from them, then what more could I ask?