--Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
He has recently become one of my favorite writers and quoting his book makes me interested in this story.
Things are moving slowly, but we have some new readers at least! And followers!And come Sunday...NEW CHAPTERS. With priest and sex...not in the same scene. Awkward. If you haven't preordered yet, still time to do so and get Trading Saints for Sinners for free.
While I revise, I should also mention a very important part to how I was able to even write this novel to begin with. I'm an adjunct professor. My life is hectic and I barely have time to myself. So, when Rosemont College, where I earned my MFA (and the grad program I would later teach Graphic Novel Studies for) announced a Write-a-Thon, I was game. The first write-a-thon, I wrote like 13,000 words. Yeah. I had a lot in me. I wasn't even planning on writing Sin's Requiem that day. I had nothing planned, just a loose idea and outline. I didn't even know what the "sin" was at that point. I just put on my writing music, and before I knew it, 12 hours had passed and I was emotionally drained and someone handed me a tote bag of cool stuff. And then I had no time to write more. Luckily, 5 months later, Rosemont held a second Write-a-Thon, and I finished the first draft--another 12,000 words. So, if you are doing the math. I wrote the 25,000 (more, actually) in 2 days. And yes, I have a lot more to do and I am adding probably 5000 words in new chapters. I'm realizing that I have more to tell of Patrick and Aeneas. But I would have never gotten this far into the story if Rosemont didn't host those Write-a-Thons. I can't wait for another one.
And if you ever see one at your school or community, be sure to attend. Just being among other writers, everyone pouring their creative energies forth, is a magical experience. It's like the outside world no longer exists and everyone in that library (where it was hosted) existed only on an Astral Plane of Creativity. It's wonderful.
How do two years go by so quickly? On September 7th, 2013, Patrick Calvachio—Pa—passed away. And not too long after that, I started to write Sin’s Requiem. Everything in this novel only became possible after he died, looking at old pictures. Some of them became integral to the plot of the novel. A picture of him with a Belgium girl, with only “Georgette” written on the back. Another picture that if I described right now would spoil a major scene in Chapter 4—which I will post soon anyway. All the more reason I had to put his name on the cover. This is as much Pa’s story as it is mine. Maybe even more so. That’s why it is from Pa, not for. And why the ending was very difficult to figure out, but I think I have a great ending, one that Pa would love. It’s also why it leans more in favor of Catholicism and Christianity than I am generally inclined to do. The first attempt of this novel, it was science that caused the time travel phenomenon. And it didn’t work. I started writing it channeling Pa, and the time travel was caused by religious spirituality, and it worked. It worked so well, I kind of hated that I didn’t think of it sooner. And for 2 years, I have felt that he has been a co-writer on this journey. Even going into the revisions, I still feel him pushing me, saying “We need to revisit this. This doesn’t work. We need more of this.” And every inclination of what I feel both the character of Patrick Calvachio and the person of Patrick Calvachio would want makes the story stronger. Even things I never expected to write. In a chapter I will post soon on Inkshares, there is a very intimate (read: sex) scene between Patrick and Georgette…while the grandson, Aeneas, is occupying his body. It’s strange, the implications are weird, but the desired effects (especially with what happens right after said scene) I can’t see working better any other way. It’s one of the most honest scenes I have in the novel. It’s one of the most important. It’s one Aeneas needed to experience. Pa might not like the actual scene, but I know he would see the importance and need of it. And I know he’d actually be a little proud that I wrote it.
And so, today, I will take a break from working with Pa so that I can actually think of him for a bit. And tomorrow, the two of us will be back at it, making Sin’s Requiem the best and strangest time travel, World War II, mythology, meta-fiction novel we can.
A Tale of Two Sinners
I wrote my first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, at a time when I was at my final crossover into atheism. The novel explores religious ideals and questions them, the way I was questioning them. And some readers have noted that there seems to be some hostility towards Christianity in the novel. They would be right—though, the characters also see the need for some of the actions committed by God, even if they don’t agree with them. Adding to this, yeah, Mephistopheles is a reinstated Angel, and he’s not the least moral character. So, sure, maybe it involved my misgivings about Christianity when I wrote it when I was 23.
So how is Sin’s Requiem similar or different? Well, it’s me, 7 years later, reexamining ideas of religion and atheist after learning much more about both ideas, and more about myself. As a result, the tone of this book is less “God is a dick” and more “Our beliefs are our beliefs, shaped only by ourselves.” Oh, and time travel. There are two characters, an atheist grandson and a catholic grandfather. I wanted them to have to collide—their two ideals to implode in on each other and both of them to wonder, after seeing the same things, if the other one was wrong, or if they were both wrong. What if spirituality and atheism could exist side-by-side? What would that look like? What would that make characters like God?
And the answer…well, that’s part of the process. Some readers might think I’m a god-hating heathen (I get e-mails. It’s fun). Some atheists might think I am betraying them. Some Christians might think I prove the need for God. Some atheists might say I prove the complexity of a non-god. Some might say I am completely full of shit and a terrible writer. And some—and this is generally how I feel—won’t care. It’s a story.
And that’s the bottom line. It’s a story. All the theological mumbo jumbo (best soup ever) is secondary. What I wanted to do in Trading Saints was tell a non-redemption story. A man who doesn’t want to be redeemed, who wants to hate himself, and bigger powers going “enough of this, you’re doing the redemption thing if you want to or not.” For Sin’s Requiem, I want to tell a story of a grandson experiencing the regrets of his grandfather and trying to help him…even at the cost of his own existence.
So why the religious aspects? Because they worked for the stories. Trading Saints is about a liar, and it turns out that Mephistopheles was once the destroyer of lies (I did a whole research paper on it). And I tried telling Sin’s Requiem as a sci-fi story. There is a terrible scene in an old draft where the grandfather uncovers a temporal something-or-other that Hitler was building and something explodes and he’s caught in it and—look, it was bad. It was overdone sci-fi clichés and I hated it. But Sin Eating…now, that seemed like a plausible reason for the grandson to have to go back. And therefore, religion became part of the story.
In fact, the two stories became so thematically similar I started calling them the Catholic Noir Double Feature, and I was even going to use Mephistopheles in Sin’s Requiem to tie them together. I ended up siding against that because of what I said before. It explores religion, but not in the same way. So it wouldn’t be right to use Mephistopheles in this setting. Who I do use is very important, and if my comic series Sons of God is ever produced, readers of these two novels will be greatly rewarded.
The Two Sinners, Caden Conrad and Patrick Calvachio might be in the same world and dealing with the same confusing aspects of Christianity. But they are completely different characters. Caden doesn’t want to be forgiven. Patrick doesn’t think he can be. And how they progress towards redemption is very different too.
I hope you will read to find out.
Just want to stop in and thank everyone for their support. Up to 3 copies so far, but hopefully we'll see that grow over the next month. For the Nerdist competition, it doesn't matter so much that it gets to 1000 copies, but that it is one of the top 5 preorders. Right, now, the #1 book is 387 copies. Still a large and daunting number with only a month to go.
Now--time for a call to action! At the end of next week, if we have 25 preorders, everyone will get a free Kindle edition of my first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, as well as chapters 3-4 in advance of everyone else. I'll figure out how to set this up.
So, let's spread some Sin to the world!
I'll be posting the first 2 chapters soon for the sample, instead of the concept scene that I have now. Just doing a bit of revising.
I'm actually working on a third draft right now. I hope to hear from many of you! And hope that you will all enjoy Sin's Requiem.