Friday, April 13, 2012

"Enemies of the Cross" Commentary (Part V)

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Happy Friday the 13th or, what I call, Jason Voorhees Day! (:p) Here we are--our final installment in the commentary for Enemies of the Cross. By now you should know to beware of spoilers but today's topic covers a HUGE spoiler, so I stress:


...still here?

You sure?

Okay. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Today we tackle a controversial topic. In The Coming Evil, it's already been established that faith (yes, specifically, the Christian faith--this is a "Christian Fiction" book) is the only weapon that will defeat the enemy. In The Strange Man, that was demonstrated by Dras quoting Scripture as a sort of ward, but, as with everything in Enemies, we crank that thought up a couple notches. We've got Isabella quoting verses and this light bursts forth from her--at one point, she literally breathes fire!

When my editor read those passages, he said, "Greg, you have to be careful, or else this is going to look like magic." A valid point I suppose, but my response went something along the lines of "Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?" Faith is not "magic"--but then again, isn't it kinda? Isn't real-life faith our connection to a supernatural being? Isn't it by faith that God can accomplish miracles through us, channeling His divine Earth-forming, dead-raising power to achieve His will? "Magic" is an ugly word because people connect it to the occult, but isn't faith a kind of "good magic"? Well, that's a point to debate for another day, and would probably just devolve into worrying over wording, but here's how I look at it. It's two-fold:

The "in-universe" explanation is this: The invisible is being made visible in Greensboro. Demons are appearing in physical form, either bound in leather or as hordes of tiny, hairless gremlins. Sin, itself, is making an appearance as a viscous black goo that consumes people. Doesn't it stand to reason that the things of God would also start manifesting in visible form? This is like the End Days for Greensboro--all the stops have been pulled out and it's a time of miracles and terror. So don't look at it as "magic" (if that offends you), look at it as the unseen being made seen. The veil separating the two worlds has been pushed aside.

The "real world" explanation is this: In spiritual warfare novels like this, we always heap gobs of cool special FX type stuff on the demonic--why can't the holy have just as cool, exciting, and dynamic visuals? If Christians confess that "our God is an awesome God", why can't we show that in the same type of creative ways we show the demonic? My longer answer to my editor went something like "Why does the devil get all the cool stuff? God should have cool special FX too."

I want this trilogy to be a summer blockbuster with lots of effects--but effects on both sides of the spiritual war, hence fire-breathing Christians.

The other heavenly aspect I added to the mythology with Enemies was angels. Yes, Christopher Perdu is an angel. "Perdu" actually means "out of sight"--meaning he was invisible the whole time. That's why you never see him eat, no one talks to him but Hank, and he has to scoot out of people's way when they march in his direction.

Unfortunately, Enemies is coming out after a show called Supernatural and their trenchcoat-clad angel Castiel. I fear folks will think I ripped it off, especially considering I've gushed about that show a time or two on this very blog. But, in fact, the idea for Christopher dates back--like most everything else in The Coming Evil--to 1998. I wrote a short film that I was hoping to shoot (yeah, that didn't happen) called "To Serve and Protect". It featured a quartet of plainclothes angels that operated like cops. They did wire tapping, had cell phones, wore trenchcoats, etc. Again, those were meant to be symbolic representations of what was going on in the heavenlies--in other words, our minds perceived a cell phone, as an analog to some angelic power we couldn't naturally comprehend. At the time, I really liked that script and liked the idea of these "working class" angels, shuffling around on Earth, fighting the battle, but in a quiet, super-spy kind of way.

When Enemies came around, I knew I wanted to bring angels into the mythology, so I created Christopher very much in the same mold as the "To Serve and Protect" angels. In fact, I'd go so far to say that they all know each other :)

My inspiration for Christopher beyond that goes back to my old favorite The Twilight Zone. In the episode "Nothing in the Dark", Robert Redford appears as a nice young man with an angelic secret.

I love Robert Redford. The Way We Were is a perfect movie and Sneakers is one of my favorites. He's got such an easy-going, suave, natural quality about him. So, not-very-subtly, that's why everyone comments that Christopher looks like Robert Redford :p

We'll be seeing even more of the heaven-side of the spiritual war going on in Greensboro in The Coming Evil, Book Three!

But, for now, this concludes our commentary for Enemies of the Cross. Some of you might be saying "What? That's it?" Alas, I could write a seemingly endless array of commentaries on all the themes and elements of Enemies. I think there's a lot to this book that's worth discovering--but part of the fun is discovering for yourself. I'd love to hear your thoughts about what you uncovered in this book: what themes or characters or ideas spoke to you?

Nevertheless, if you still have burning behind-the-scenes questions you need to know, feel free to visit our comment section and I will do my best to answer! Or perhaps you've yet to read the book, but now your interest in piqued. The book is available at your local bookstore as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, and Nook!

Thanks for reading our commentary. We'll reconvene when The Coming Evil, Book Three: Dark Hour takes over the world! In the meantime, I leave you with a fond Friday the 13th farewell. Here's the teaser trailer for Jason Takes Manhattan. A wonderfully terrible film, but this trailer was my very first exposure to that lovable hockey-mask wearing lug--and it scared the crap out of me!

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