Posted by Literary Titan
I Have Demons is a collection of stories following three characters grappling with the demons in their lives. What served as your inspiration while writing these stories?
Fiction is usually built at the crossroads where self-reflection, your surroundings as you perceive them, and your imagination meet. I Have Demons is character-driven and each protagonist is an amalgam of people I have met–even if for fleeting moments–creative license and of me. The idea for the first story, “An Alpine Lodge Special,” was sparked from my observations of the regular patrons who frequent a Canadian coffee shop chain and a restaurant located a few blocks from where I live in Ottawa’s historically Francophone east-end. It seemed as though the same elderly people would congregate here on a regular basis; merely by their presence they would add colour with their rich memories and lived experiences to an otherwise humdrum and drab restaurant franchise. More often than not, everyday people are, in fact, extraordinary.
The story “David and Franco” is probably something to which most people at the cusp of their adult lives can relate. I think we were all David once: we begin adulthood with idealism and grand ideas, perhaps even a missionary zeal of sorts, as we tend to have some very definite ideas of ethics and the world around us. It can be exciting, overwhelming and full of promise, even when we don’t have money, and when a good job and a proper livelihood seem difficult to attain. But does life experience temper our idealism and compromise our values?
The story that stands sandwiched between these two and provides the title for the anthology is also the “heart” of my book. I am not a priest, but I have been involved quite closely with the Catholic Church for many years and I can relate to the protagonist, Fr. Solomon. I’ve encountered Father Solomons along the way. This thirty-something priest is also the character that probably includes more fragments of my own personality than any other in the book.
Each character has their own challenge they must face. What were some themes you felt were important to capture?
Sometimes people we don’t expect to be marginalized in contemporary society do, in fact, live on the peripheries. This does not mean that they perceive themselves to be victims of oppression, even if they are forgotten or disadvantaged. In their own way, perhaps with limited success, they display a degree of agency as they journey towards the centre and attempt to make their voice heard.
I find that, while writing, writers sometimes ask questions and have the characters answer them. Do you find that to be true? What questions did you ask yourself while writing this story?
Creating characters and building narratives with them can be a process of discovery for the author. Inevitably, you begin to see the world around you through eyes other than your own. No character is completely divorced from the author, who is after all the creator of these people and their worlds. Yet if the goal is to tell a story credibly, the author must make a best effort to walk in the shoes of others.
One of the questions I asked myself is whether or not the Divine still exists in a mostly secular society. As the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant churches become more marginal to, and even absent from, the lives of the majority, where does that leave the concept of a Divine presence in the world–if, indeed, there is one? Writing these stories helped me better imagine the possibility of the Divine’s implicit and mediated, yet real presence in the world, through every living creature. This isn’t a new concept at all. The idea that everyone we meet, whether friend, foe or stranger, represents part of the image of God, is the fundamental underpinning of the Catholic and Christian faith, and the Jewish tradition too. Yet it can be a hard teaching to embrace. Fiction can help.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on my first novel, which will see a return of Fr. Solomon. I feel he’s a character with still more potential and room to grow. As for when this work may be available–I fear that I would make for a very bad clairvoyant, so I’ll have to give an evasive answer to this question. Scene by scene, I have been working on this new story since the spring. Once I’m done, my fate, and that of my novel, will rest in the hands of potential publishers.
A jaded young priest of a dwindling parish faces a man with a terrible secret. A lonely pensioner spends a Thanksgiving she’ll never forget at a local diner, served by an acerbic waitress who has finally found her ticket out of there. A recent university graduate from small-town Ontario leaves home with nothing to his name but the hope of a new life in the city and places all his trust in a charismatic yet dubious life coach.
Lyrical language, at times haunting, and moments of dry humour weave through the three novellas in this collection. Set in and around Ottawa, Ontario, these stories examine the peripheries of society. In the characters’ journey toward the centre, they navigate flawed human relationships, seek to encounter a divine presence that is at once implicitly present yet dreadfully distant, and struggle to negotiate the conditions of redemption.
Posted by Literary Titan
Christopher Adam’s book, I Have Demons, is a collection of three stories that are snapshots of the lives of three different people in and around the city of Ottawa, Canada. As the author describes in the preface, the main characters in these stories in some way “live on the margins,” both physically and socially. From an elderly woman who is neglected by her son and relishes any excitement she can find outside the retirement home in which she lives, to a priest who finds himself struggling to find compassion for a mentally ill man who pressures him into a uncomfortable task, to a struggling college graduate who has to put all dignity aside to try to make it in the big city, the author highlights the struggles of people who are frequently overlooked by the rest of mainstream culture.
The thing that left the biggest impression on me while reading this book was Adam’s excellent use of descriptive writing throughout his stories. His ideas become real for his readers through the way in which he is able to describe things, not just by using many adjectives, but by using detailed imagery that makes his story seem real. Everything that he describes, from a blustery wind to an old woman’s hands, takes shape in the reader’s mind through his words and metaphors. The descriptions create a feeling of uniqueness in his stories, and in their own way, can help the reader to see ordinary things from a fresh perspective.
Having said that, I don’t think the title matches the content of the book in terms of a meaningful description. Although the words in the title come from a quote in the book, I don’t feel like this particular quote gave me the correct impression of the content of the book. While the author may want to convey the idea that all his characters have to deal with their own demons, I think that, without context, the title seems suggested to me that this book is one of horror or suspense. Regardless, because the stories are well-written, thoughtful, and descriptive, I highly recommend this book.
Pages: 130 | ASIN: B07K4QG839