Lost Mission author Athol Dickson agreed to an email interview. Here it is:
Q. The Christian characters in the book are both Catholic and protestant; the protagonist is Catholic. Are you a Catholic? What is your take on the Catholic faith vs protestant? What can you tell me about your own faith journey, briefly?
A. I am not a Catholic because I don’t agree with some of their doctrine. I
don’t believe in the immaculate conception, for example. I believe the Bible is very clear that Jesus is the only person who ever lived a life unstained by original sin. I have a few other areas of disagreement which make it impossible for me to be a Catholic, but think God has faithful followers in every part of His church, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, just as there are many people in every part who are tragically mistaken and lost.
We can disagree on everything except the basics of the gospel, and still be
brothers and sisters in Christ. The Catholic Church has gotten the gospel wrong in the past, basically making the mistake Paul warns against in Galatians, but then so have many Protestant denominations. Many Catholics believe that we are reconciled to God by faith in Jesus Christ through God’s grace alone, and not by virtue of baptism or christening, nor by any other liturgical ritual, nor because of anything else that we might do. As far as I’m concerned, that makes them my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Q. There is a character in the book I would call an angel. Is this how you
think of him, or would you categorize him as something else?
A. I was careful not to use the word “angel” in the book, because I wanted
readers to decide for themselves about the nature of that character.
Q. The plot is “paranormal” except for the fact that the spirit being appears
to be an angel, not a demon. (Though there does seem to be a demonic
influence as well, which isn’t very developed–the one that keeps the friar
from painting the retablo.) Do you think this book belongs in the paranormal
A. Ah, genre. That’s always been my nemesis. I focus on making my stories as interesting as I can. In the service of telling a fascinating story, I’ll
follow an idea almost anywhere. Sometimes that means my novels end up
straying far outside the lines of any one genre. People have called
different novels I’ve written everything from suspense to mystery to gothic
romance to speculative to magical realism.
Now you’re calling it “paranormal.” Ha! A new one. The publisher’s marketing people get headaches trying to tell people what my work is like, but I think that’s okay. There’s something to be said for opening a new book and not knowing exactly where the ride will take you. Where I try to be consistent is in a high quality of craftsmanship, a sense of redemption, a love of the natural world, and in the fact that the stories are as fresh and original as I can make them.
Q. Was this book a long time in the gestation? It seems very difficult to pull
together, with the parallel stories in different times.
A. Yes, it was hard to write. It took me about a year, including all the back
and forth with editors, which is about how long most of my other novels have required. They’ve all been hard to write, mainly because I won’t follow a
Q. Did you intend parallels involving the duo of the warring friars and the duo of the rich man and the pastor?
A. Oh, absolutely. Everything that happens in LOST MISSION is connected across both space and time, just as it is in life. That’s one of the themes in the story. How do we deal with that reality? What does it mean in terms of the choices we make next? Are we stuck in some kind of eternally repeating loop, or can we break patterns and strike out in new directions?
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A. Writing is a rotten way to make a living, so the only sane reason to do it
is because you love it.
So, readers, this book is generating quite a bit of discussion on the CSFF blog tour. Take a look!
CSFF Blog Tour
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul