Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Story of the Novel "A Place of Brightness"


I am married to a Romanian-American and, as school teachers, we spend our Summers there (though unfortunately not this Summer, due to COVID-19).

In the Summer of 2010, while we were in Romania, I happened to see on the television a story about how, in 1962, the Communists there finally managed to crush an anti-Communist insurrection that had struggled for some years against the government. 

And the Communist government had kept any knowledge that this insurrection was even happening completely hidden and secret from the vast majority of the populace, lest they share such sympathies and rise up as well.

The insurrectionists called themselves "Haiduci," which is a Romanian word that originally meant "Bandits." In areas mainly in the mountainous Carpathian regions north of the capital city of Bucharest, they carried out acts of sabotage against Communist interests. 

But in 1962 they were finally crushed, and widespread knowledge that they even existed did not come to Romania until after the Revolution of 1989.

So I found myself imagining, what became of these insurrections that maybe managed to escape notice or escape Romania at that time. And so in my mind I began to picture the final mission of a family of Haiduci. And the characters of A Place of Brightness came to life.

Autobiographical Elements

I grew up in Wisconsin, but, having studied Arabic for my PhD, I served at the National Security Agency for four years after 9/11. During that time I was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal for my service in Iraq in 2004. 

For full authenticity of emotion and experience, I used certain characters of my novel to process some of what I had gone through. The main protagonist, Andrew Valquist channeled much of that for me. My middle name is Andrew and I made him experience what I had--a tour in Iraq. 

I gave him an identical twin, Stefan, as I also have an identical twin, Kevin. Forging dialogue between the twins was therefore a very natural expression for me. 

Interestingly, while Andrew was my original doppelganger, so to speak, my life has evolved to become more like that of Stefan. He is a Romanian Orthodox priest, and I was ordained a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church just two years ago.

A Place of Brightness

The phrase "A Place of Brightness" comes from an Eastern Orthodox prayer for the dead. That the dead would be in "A Place of Brightness, A Place of Greenness, and Place of Repose." I imagined that these Haiduci, virulently anti-Communist but still also practicing Orthodox, would feel the tension between their Faith and their Mission. And so I envisioned them as praying thus for those they were about to unfortunately kill in their pursuit of a free Romania. 

I won't give any spoilers to the story. When a second generation descended from the Haiduci return to their ancestral land, they will be pulled into deep danger and intrigue that somehow goes back all the way to the events of 1962 when the movement was crushed.

Read A Place of Brightness for the rest of the story...

No comments:

Post a Comment