Still making notes for the story temporarily called Penitents. Two possible titles have popped up: A Perfect Act of Penitence and None Will be Forgiven. I always try to find the title before I’ve gone very far into the story’s development. So, either of these could be a major influence in where it goes. Until I’m well into the writing, even the smallest, most obscure fact or idea found in a book or elsewhere, can change everything.
It really shouldn’t surprise me that this happened today. It’s the particular item that served as the trigger that is massively surprising, and the degree to which it will influence how the book develops. Start with the idea of a monastic but secular group that functions somewhat like an NGO service organization. It works out of an abandoned and partially destroyed monastery. The training is inspired by the defunct Church, while it remains purely secular.
So, today… The Passive Voice blog posted part of an article published on a site that probably none of us have ever heard of: The Jesuit Post. The article, if you’re interested, is: Harry Potter and the Prisoner
I’m slowly building the biographies of the characters, so my little journey into The Jesuit Post struck lightning. The head of the penitents’ group turns out to be a former Jesuit who left the church! I’d already started doing research into the Jesuit order in order to adapt some of the practices for my group, so I was primed, it seems. And I could hardly ignore the influence of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, which I’ve read three times. Jesuits, Jesuits, everywhere.
Here’s the kicker though. I’m a lifelong atheist. Not one of the majority who have “turned away from God.” There was very little religious influence in my early life, which meant I was left to figure it all out for myself. I did figure it out, and to this day, I honestly don’t understand the mentality that allows one to believe in the existence of a god or gods. It isn’t something I argue about — live and let live, I say, as long as you don’t shove your beliefs in my face. But it does tickle my funny bone that I can comfortably write a novel in which religion plays a part, and an important part for some of the characters.