It is the eve of the release of my tenth novel, The Shape of Mercy. Tomorrow it will hit the street, as they say.
Every book I’ve written I’ve invested into it threads of myself. And I don’t just mean time and mental gymnastics. But this one. . . This one emerged from somewhere deep inside me. I found myself pondering just about everything that really matters when I was writing this one. A novelist bleeds his or her worldview onto the pages when he or she writes; Sometimes we bleed a little, sometimes the pages seem red when we’re done.
The concept behind The Shape of Mercy stayed with me long after I finished it, which was nearly a year ago. And I know why it did. I am guilty of the weakness Lauren my protagonist had to discover – and admit – about herself. She, like me, like so many, judge better than we love. And we let fear dictate how much love we will extend and to whom we will extend it. Not always, not in every circumstance. But it happens often enough to know I might[‘ve easily kept my quivering mouth shut had I lived in Salem in 1692. I can’t see myself accusing my innocent neighbor of bewitching me, but I might’ve said nothing – out of fear for my own life -when someone else did the finger-pointing. And I might’ve said nothing still when the Village marched to Gallows Hill to watch the accused hang. We tend to fear what we can’t comprehend. And we tend to understand only what we want to.
There is a shimmering ray of hope, however. And it actually permeated all of 1692 Salem, though it hasn’t garnered the same spotlight as the delusions of frightened and empowered people. The innocents who were hanged as witches refused to confess an allegiance to the Devil. Refused to the point of death. I find that remarkable and magnificent. It fills me with hope to consider that while we have the capacity to judge when we should show mercy, we also have the capacity to embrace Truth for all we’re worth – even if it means we give up everything for it.
It wasn’t all darkness and deception in 1692 Salem. There was light there, too. It flickered every time the noose was pulled tight on the throat of one who would not give up on God and everything holy and good.
This book isn’t a book about the Trials, just a contemporary look at what they teach us.
And so it begins; my little roving commentary on the things we must learn from our weaker moments in history.
And the things we must commemorate. . .