An Interview with
Where did the idea for the book The Midnight Saint come from?
The whole thing actually started out about 30 years ago, believe it or not. At the time I was a software engineer for Northern Telecom in the Dallas area, and I saw a story in the newspaper about a local St. Lucia celebration. It had a photo of a girl portraying Lucia, and since I'd never heard of her before, I started doing research. I didn't know what to do with all the information, so I just filed it away for future use.
The opening of the book, the scene at the gas station, really happened. When you read what Adam did for the couple, well, my Dad did that in real life. He was that kind of guy. I was so impressed with that real-life story that I wrote it down... and at some point the writer in me started wondering about the couple that he helped that night, and thinking that he deserved a reward for his good deed, although offering such a thing would have been an insult to him. Unless, of course, it came from God himself - and so the story began.
Are any of the characters in the book real?
Well, Lucia, but she's the only one. Adam's gas station experience was based on Dad, like I said, but everyone else is made up. Elvis the basset is an amalgam of the five bassets who have been a part of my life over the years, so while he's not real, I can see him perfectly. The small-town doctor, pharmacist, insurance agent, etc, are all from my imagination, although I've spent most of my life in small Texas towns, so I think that they're an accurate portrayal of how such people might be in real life.
Do you have a favorite character?
You might not believe it, but it's Mr. Simmons, the old principal in the nursing home. The reason is: I have no idea where he came from. I was working on the chapter where Adam was just driving around, and suddenly he turned into the nursing home parking lot and went inside. The chapter was written before I knew what I was doing, and I have absolutely, positively, no idea where Principal Simmons came from. When I finally pushed away from the keyboard and read what I'd written, I knew that he was something special, and had much more of a story to tell. While his main job in the book was to explain that the world is magic, he has much more to say. I have a feeling that you may be seeing him again, somewhere down the road.
Any difficulties in writing the book?
Wow, where do I even start? I think that one of the main things I wrestled with was keeping the story tight. I wanted to leave the reader wanting more, not having to skim over repetitive rhetoric. I kept feeling that I needed to bulk up the book and make it longer, but in the end I was able to resist the temptation. For example, I'd have a story day when it would have only one event for Adam before he met with Lucia. I'd read and re-read it, and want to add a few pages about Adam's interaction with his daughter Amy and wife Emily; after all, if I were dying, that would be one of the most important concerns to me. I kind of summed up Emily with their romantic day, though, and showed him with Amy at the school lunch, so I let those two scenes stand alone for how Adam felt about them.
Do you have any plans for these characters in the future?
Probably not Adam and Emily, and their daughter Amy. I think that Midnight Saint told their story. I don't think that you'll see Lucia again, either. I had a great time with her, but it's really not her job to continue to meddle in the affairs of humans... she's back to having a great time in her heavenly life. There are some things that I wonder about, though. Principal Simmons, like I've already mentioned, but also the husband, wife and daughter from the gas station at the first of the book. I don't know what the future holds, but if any of the characters were going to come back, it would probably be some of those.
Are you surprised at the reaction to The Midnight Saint?
Shocked, on one hand. It's been well-received, and by that I mean bringing tears to readers' eyes, having them talk it up to friends, and things like that. I don't know that I really feel like I'm capable of writing such a book... which I'd have to say makes it a God thing. On the other hand, though, I've loved this story and the characters from the very start. There were times when I was afraid to even hope that people perceived the book in the same way that I did. I just hope that readers find that it blesses their lives... and if it does so, I can't ask for anything more.