Character Introduction: Adele

The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does often times leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory, and their good. – 2LBCF

I wanted to explore the symbolism behind Adele’s character a little bit. I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven’t read my first book there will be some spoilers. For some of you, this isn’t a big deal. You haven’t read it and aren’t planning on reading it, or you’re waiting for it to be published, or you just never thought about it. No worries. I’m well aware of the fact that what I write isn’t for everyone. For those of you who have read it and loved it, I will do my level best not to give away much in book 2.

Jonah and Adele are two friends in my book The Cost of Two Hands. They’ve both been salvaged from their past life into a new one at Greenhome. Symbolically, more deeply, they are a reflection of converted children. I was saved as a very young child. I don’t know the date, or the time I was saved. All I remember was crying out to the Lord for mercy one night as I faced my own sinfulness. Nothing exciting.

Nothing like Jonah.

Jonah symbolizes the people I envied. They had moving conversion stories. They were horrible people before they were saved, then ‘bing!’ they were converted, and suddenly became saints. For years, I wished to be able to see such a strong demarcation between unsaved and saved. I went from struggling to obey my parents to . . . struggling to obey my parents.

What I didn’t grasp, in my youth and inexperience, was my own sinfulness.

I looked at the life of another saint, filled with sin, until the grace of God came, and envied it. I didn’t know yet the depth of my own sinfulness as a saint. I look back at that little girl and I want to cup her face in my hands and tell her that she will face the horror of how sinful she really is. She will come to find out she is every bit the sinner those others were and are, and she needs God’s mercy and grace every moment of every day. I want to tell her that there will be times when she will weep for forgiveness, and be sick at her own sinful heart. I want to tell her there will be times her sin will rage against her assurance. Salvation as a child doesn’t promise a life without deep dark sin.

In The Cost of Two Hands, Adele represents me, and all those like me. She represents children who grow up in a good home, and are converted early in life. They have never cussed, stolen anything, deeply rebelled, taken drugs, slept around, cheated, gone behind their parents back, or anything. They are good kids. I was a good kid.

At some point, I believe all ‘good kids’ run right smack dab into the wall of their own sinfulness. They have to learn the depth of their salvation.

Adele is tempted to do something that at first revolts her. She is tempted to put a soul in a machine. At first she resists. She see the wrongness of doing this. One night, Adele and Jonah are trapped out in the snow. A pack of feral hounds attack. Jonah fights them off, but is injured. They get lost trying to get home and almost die out in the freezing-cold night. It is then that Adele decides she will build Jonah an indestructible body. She justifies what she knows is wrong, betrays her friends, betrays them again, and doesn’t see what she is doing until two of them are dead.

Being a fantasy story, the path of destruction is exaggerated. We aren’t often faced with betraying friends and killing them in the middle of a pitch battle between warring gangs and bands of kidnappers. We do often justify what we know is wrong, and end up destroying the relationships around us. Sin destroys. Adele comes face to face with her own sinfulness. She sees that just like Jonah, she needed to be salvaged. She needed someone to show her grace and cover her.

What I find interesting about Adele, as a character, is how much readers dislike her. Obviously, on a surface level, she’s not a real likeable character. She betrays her friends for selfish reasons, and even murders two of them in an experiment. Adele isn’t like Jonah at this point of the story. She isn’t good and kind and strong and brave. There is nothing there for us to like.

And yet, she has been salvaged.

She is a child of Greenhome.

I hope and want readers to not like her. I want readers to wonder why I saved her. I want readers to think of her as a monster who deserves to die. I want readers to weep over the death of several characters and wonder why I didn’t kill Adele.

Why?

Because this is my own character arc. I am Adele. I thought I was pretty good. I wasn’t like Jonah. Many times I have seen people God has shown grace to and wondered why he saved the monsters. Why did my own sweet great-grandmother not ever show a bit of trust in the Lord, but there is evidence that Jeffrey Dahmer might have been saved. That’s not fair! He was a real monster. Why show him grace?

Heaven will be full of monsters, because God saves sinners. He saves the ones who come with need and hope, begging for grace. He didn’t come to save the good, but the evil. He came to retrieve the dangerous. It took many years, and much sin for me to realize that I was one of the dangerous. That while my outward actions might not be dramatically as monstrous as someone like Dahmer, I am no less vile. I would destroy everything and everyone around me but for the grace of God.

This is Adele.

She is a child who never did anything really really bad, was salvaged and adopted into Greenhome, and only there did she face her own depravity. I think this is the experience of many believers saved at a young age. I think it will be interesting to see if my readers accept the covering of Adele’s murders. I think it will be interesting to see which readers love her, pity her, or hate her.

One of my older nieces recently read The Cost of Two Hands. I think she’s the first person in my actually target age to read the book. She read it in about 8 hours, which was really gratifying. I’m not sure she’s ever read anything this dark. She loves Lord of the Rings, so she had no problem with the writing style. She really disliked Adele. It made me smile. She is also a young adult converted at a young age. I wonder if as she gets older, if she will see what Adele symbolizes. I don’t want her to deal with sin as I have, but the reality is, she probably will. I wonder if she’ll see herself in Adele at that point. She may realize that sometimes you feel your salvage, the depth of your salvage, more strongly as you face the depth and darkness of your own heart.

So, this is Adele. She’s a good kid who follows the path of her own selfishness only to find the great darkness she is capable of. Will she find her salvage to be deeper than her darkness?

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Quote of the Weekend

Unborn

Torn from the sleeping safety of the womb

Where do you go?

Having lived not here,

Having lived not there,

But torn, unborn.

Not in heaven,

Not in hell,

But born on the other side of a Door.

Opening beyond our own,

Just beyond the edge of sight,

Beyond my reaching fingers.

Where do you go?

Where do you go to live?

Beyond the Doors.

– Unborn, by Abby Jones

(The opening poem to my Work-in-Progress Icicle Rain. I’m working on a parallel world where aborted children go to live out the lives that were taken from them. It’s a Steam Punk, Western Fairytale. The Oregon Curiosity Shop on Esty  can give you a visual on the Steam Punk side of things.)

Writing Journal: Writing a Fairy Tale

I don’t have any great writing let-me-splain-01lesson to share at the moment, so what I’m going to talk about is the joy I have suddenly found in writing a fairy tale.  Some of you followed my Worlds before the Door blog and so you know what I used to write.  You have my permission to skip the next paragraph.  For those of you new to me, let me explain…that would take too long…let me sum up.  🙂  (Now you know exactly what kind of geek I am, and that I grew up happily in the 80’s.)

My writing is dark and detailed.  Now it’s hasn’t been detailed for the readers, but under the hood, it’s complicated.  I told all of my dark stories in a magical, fantastical setting.  This fantastical magic had very intricate rules.  It had to.  If you’re going to give your supernatural heroes supernatural enemies and have consistent battles, or any type of battles, you have to know who can do what.  Who can have visions and who can’t?  What type of visions?  When?  That’s the details.  I wrote about serial killers, mass murderers, insane asylums, and other such things.  The darkness came pouring out of me because light shines brighter in the darkness.  Hope is sweeter after emptiness.  Healing only matters if you’re broken.  Forgiveness is for the damned.  This is why my stories are dark.  I had to do a lot of emptying, breaking, and damning before I could bring hope, healing, and forgiveness.

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The problem was very few people could stomach them.  Those who actually made it through my 70-page prologue, where everyone died, did so with lots of shudders.  A few readers told me they couldn’t read what I wrote.  They loved the message but they couldn’t bear the depth of the darkness to get to the light.  The people not interested in my stories far outweighed the people who loved them.  (Thank you to everyone who loved them!!!)

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I wanted to share my stories and I wanted to encourage the body of believers.  I wanted to remind them through my stories that there is hope in the darkness when you’re broken and bleeding.  I wanted to remind them of the power of forgiveness.  I want to show a true love that is a choice of the mind instead of a whim of the heart.  I didn’t want to be one of those people who stubbornly and rebelliously refused to change at the request of others or the dictates of the Lord out of some misguided desire to be true to self.  What did I do?  I started writing fairy tales for children.

1024For the past few months, I’ve pounded my head against a brick wall with my Fairy Tale: Icicle Rain.  It was such a struggle.  I had so much to learn about this world.  Nothing felt comfortable, familiar, or smooth.  I had to edit every scene already written as I wrote new scenes and discovered more about the story.  Then it happened:  I had a moment.  The whole story came together.  The darkness became so very dark and the light became ever brighter, if smaller for a time.  I found a piece of the heart of the story:

(Just to make it clear, Gus is a mouse and Presto is a mushroom with many eyes.  Oak is a dryad.  I told you it’s a fairy tale, right?)

“And your heart?” Presto asked raising several eyebrows at Gus.

“My heart?” Oak patted his coat and trouser pockets.  “Where’s my heart?  Oh, yeah, I gave that away.”

“Do you know who has it?”

“No, but they needed it.  Their own heart had been broken, so I gave them a new one.  I gave them mine.”

“Can you tell us even one little thing about who has your heart?” Presto asked getting irritated.

Gus grunted at him.

“You know, sir,” the mouse turned to Oak.  “It might be a good idea to know a little bit about this person.  Your heart belongs to them now and that brings responsibilities and obligations.”

“I know that they are kind,” Oak said.  He leaned forward, listening not with the ears he no longer had, or seeing with eyes no longer his own, but listening to what he had given away.  “I know they needed hope.  I know great sorrow and loss mark them.  She lost everything she cared about, and that loss broke her free.”

“Did you say she?” Presto said, leaning forward.

“Yes.  I gave my heart to a woman.  She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”

“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered getting another pointed glare from Gus.

“No.  No.  Not grown men.  There was only one grown man.  The rest were growing men, her growing men.”

Gus gasped.  “She had seven sons?  You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”

“No.  I gave my heart to a woman with a glint in her eye and a heart for trees.”

The mouse and the mushroom gasped.

“That’s impossible,” Presto said, never truly at a loss for words.  “Impossible, I tell you.”

These few lines won’t mean a whole lot to you, but to me they were the moment I found a huge part of why I was writing this story.  They represented all the darkness still coming, but it wasn’t an empty darkness.  It was a darkness with lots of hope.

I fought against writing children’s literature for years.  Poor writing plagues it.  Everyone is doing it to try to capture some of the monetary magic of Twilight.  I often find most YA, and Tween books filled with angst instead of adventure, worship of romance instead of the truth about real love, and lacking adults as if adults can’t be in YA fiction.  (Obviously, there are exceptions.)  I didn’t want to throw myself in with that mix, and yet…I love good children’s stories.  Many of my favorite books are books I read in high school or were written for that age group:  Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sunshine, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  I love a well-written story for children.

So, I shook off the self-imposed stigma I had attached to writing for young people.  Who cares if most of it out there is tripe or poorly written?

I embrace my new stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because it can have all of the darkness, and not all the magic has to be explained like it was in my other stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I can pull from all the myths and truths that I love and hold dear.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I found a piece of the heart.

Shiny

Shiny!

I’m not one of those people who believe that the best way to battle darkness is to pretend it doesn’t exist.  I think it’s best battled by facing it head on.  Heavy thoughts from someone with a blog covered in bright colors and paisley patterns who writes kids stories about her nieces and nephews, right?  Nope.  I consider myself the Kaylee of the battle against darkness.  I can face the darkness with tears and a smile because my soul is safe.  A Hand mightier than my own holds it.  The darkness doesn’t like hope, laughter, and smiles.