A while back, I wrote about my fictional character Grampa and how the octogenarian minister didn’t seem to want to leave. Reverend Regina from The Old Prophet’s House won’t leave either. Indeed, in the sequel Rejoice in Hope, I elevated her from a secondary to a primary character. I suppose a psychologist could have a wonderful time deciphering why, of all the disparate individuals living in my novels and short stories, the two who linger most are both ministers. Mind you, they couldn’t be more different. Grampa is a tradition-bound Episcopalian. Regina, having searched the world for a religion she likes and not finding one, creates a religion with the unlikely pairing of New Age/Buddhist thought and the charismatic practices of her childhood Pentecostal religion.
Perhaps the reason these two ministers remain with me is that they defy facile categorization. Grampa, almost a relic from a Victorian age, enthusiastically joins the 1960’s civil rights movement. Regina, to quote her husband Brian, “is a thundering Biblical prophet on the one hand and gentle New Age seer on the other.” To quote Charlyn Blake, another of my characters, the seriously overweight Regina, “seemed to float up the stairs, as if she were walking on air. Where does she get that grace?”
Perhaps my favorite passage about Regina is Brian's description of her at the piano:
"Regina struck the keys, playing dark, dissonant chords. Charlyn’s surprised gaze flicked back and forth between Regina’s hands and face.
Yes, Regina will surprise you, he could have told Charlyn. She sings like an angel, but watch out. She can also play like a demon.
The fire of her music blazed through the nave like the roar of a dragon. Brian reached the altar and stood by the piano, looking down at his wife. The crushing power of the chords, their potent dissonance—it was as if she were spewing out hellfire and damnation. There were no words, but he could still imagine their searing impact. God is merciful her earlier singing had said. God avenges, this mad, reckless playing seemed to assert. He asked himself, not for the first time, Who is this force of nature I’ve married?"
I honestly don’t know where my characters come from. I’ve never known anyone like Grampa or Reverend Regina. Yet, in the alchemical process that is novel writing, they have appeared in my writing and, yes, in my life. Both have made me reassess my beliefs and assumptions. If the stars in the publishing firmament align themselves appropriately, perhaps someday they will grace the lives of my readers, too.