Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Idea Behind The Soulkeepers

Rebellion is brilliant.

I know, I know, if you are a parent of a teenager, you might not think so. You might be pulling your hair out, cursing the rebellious years.  But as a mother, RN, and someone who volunteers with young people, I can tell you it's the truth. Teenage rebellion is brilliant because it's a sign that a person is developing an independent identity and thinking for themselves.

Several years ago I was talking to someone about the creation story.  I was raised Catholic so for me, the story was of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I'd heard this story told hundreds of times as a kid but for some reason that year something new occurred to me.  The Garden of Eden was supposed to be this perfect place, the safest place created by God.  Who let the serpent in? It doesn't make a lot of sense when you think about.  Why would evil be hanging out right next to the tree of life?
My mind continued down this path and I was awestruck by the number of imperfections our minds have to overlook to make sense of our lives.  We live in a tough world.  Each of us deals with things about ourselves that we wish we could change.  I haven't met a person yet that didn't struggle with at least one member of their own family.  We often disagree with public policy and are at odds with our community, and no matter who or what religion you are, if you have faith it's not because everything you've been told makes perfect logical sense- it's because you've made sense of the imperfections.
I firmly believe that you can take any two people from any two religions, even if they are sitting next to each other in the same church, temple, or prayer circle and if you dig deep enough you will discover that they really don't believe exactly the same thing. That's because regardless of religion, each person connects to their higher power (or chooses not to) in a deeply individual way. Nature abhors sameness.  We were made different for a reason.

Back then, I had the idea for a story but I didn't know my character.  As I researched the market, I recognized that YA books seemed to either avoid the issue of God all together or else were very prescriptive about one specific religion.  I wanted my character to be real and I believe that real teenagers are all about questioning. So, I wrote a character who drove the events in my story in the throws of inner turmoil about who he was and if his life had a greater purpose. 
Jacob sees imperfection everywhere - in himself, in his family, in the new town he lives in, and he's completely written off any possibility that there could be a God. But Jacob is rebelling, he's searching, and he's deciding how he's going to make sense of his world...a world that is invaded by the supernatural.

Once I came to know Jacob, I knew I needed to tell his story.  I hope you'll enjoy the result as much as I do.


  1. Great post, Gen! A very nice summation of what you set out to accomplish (and DID!) with this book. Can't wait to read it again.

  2. as a mom of an 8 - going on 18 - year old daughter, I appreciate your positive thoughts about rebellion. I'm still scared... but at least I can't wait to read your book!


  3. Thanks, Heather! Actually, if you have a teen that, say, keeps their room clean on their own and folds their paired socks in the drawer, that can be a sign of a mental health issue. I'm happy to say my teen does not have this problem. :)

  4. The story of Adam & Eve is just a parable (for us Catholics anyway) and the serpent being allowed in the Garden of Eden was to express the existence of FREEWILL.

    It's a theme I really am interested in as a writer.

    I was a high school English teacher, and I can say that adolescence can be a trying time for everyone. Growth can be tough. And when it comes to family, you don't much of a choice as to the personalities you're surrounded with.

    Teenagers are questioning for sure! Always wanting to get to the truth, and exploring and defying - crossing the boundaries to see what happens. But deep inside, despite all of this desire for pure independence, they also are in search of connecting to others.

    Add a dash of hormones, and you've got a great landscape to write a great story!

  5. It's amazing how our ideas come to us. I do agree with you about rebellion.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Gen! It's always neat to see how a story comes to be.

  7. As a mother of an almost-14-year-old, I find your comment about rebellion reassuring. I'm thinking he's going to like your book, too.

  8. When I think back to my teenage years, my "rebellion" was borderline pathetic. I was in my 30s when I finally rebelled "for reals." It wasn't pretty. And yes, religion did play a part. From what I read of an earlier version of Soulkeepers, you certainly accomplished what you set out to do. I like the way the book both challenges and affirms spiritual connections at many levels.

  9. Thanks, Scotti! That means a lot to me.

    Cathy, I can tell by your posts and your writing that you would do anything for your kids. With that kind of love, I'd put money on him turning out just fine.

  10. Nice to see the thought processes that go into the making of a tale. Much success to you.


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