How Catholic is Syzygy?
I decided to interview myself about my urban fantasy, Syzygy. The last time reading through, I looked critically at it, wondering if I should begin marketing it as a Catholic novel, or specifically, a young adult Catholic fantasy novel. I started thinking about it as a reader might.
If you're wondering about the Catholic aspects of the book, read on. If you're wondering if it's appropriate for your teenager, read on. So, here goes the interview, such as it is:
Q: Is Syzygy a Catholic novel?
A: I've never billed it as a Catholic novel for two reasons. It's not a Catholic novel. (Ha-ha--Minor detail). By that I mean, I could honestly take out all Catholic elements and references and the story would not drastically change. But it does subtly touch on Catholic themes (and they grow the further into the novel one reads). Some of the important characters are Catholic and one of them in particular develops much in faith.
Also, I hope that by not calling it a Catholic novel, a wider audience will be drawn to it. Some of the tougher themes--depression, grief, cutting--effect young people who are often not embracing faith. My wish is that the book will help awaken hope in them so they become more open to listening to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it's an ambitious wish. It's not the most eloquent novel. :p
Q: But you totally have bad words in Syzygy. You're setting a bad example!
A: That is not technically a question, but I'll address it anyway. True, Syzygy is riddled with swear words. Particularly our hero, Finn, is guilty of flinging "F" bombs and slinging "S" shots. His foul mouth is a symptom of his criminal upbringing. He's oblivious of his habit and that he sounds just like his dad, against whom he rebels. When somebody points out Finn's swearing, he resolves to change (because he wants to impress the girl). He starts replacing cuss words with such expressions as "Oh me, oh my," and "fiddle sticks." (I think it's endearing.)
Q: Shouldn't the Catholic characters be more saintly? Sam's pretty pure, but Lucas shows prejudice against the Fir Na Gealai (a race of people in the novel) and keeps secrets from his niece, Bea just plain lies, as does one of the Torres kids.
A: Nobody is perfect. People have failings. Everyone is a work in progress. If I were to change anything, I'd give the Torres kid a consequence for lying to his parents. But he was a very minor character and there wasn't time to delve into his story.
The major characters all show signs of growth and become better people. And don't I get credit for mentioning that Bea is saving herself for marriage? I thought that little exchange between her and Finn was handled sweetly and non-preachy.
Q: Speaking of "saving one's self for marriage," there's an implication that Lizzy and Cutter have premarital relations.
A: Yes, and that ends sadly for Lizzy. She thinks it's "just like they're married," but it turns out that he wasn't thinking that way at all. But these are minor characters (who aren't Catholic) and it's a subtle wallpaper story. Gosh, I hope nobody reading this novel wants to emulate Lizzy or Cutter. I don't think I make them into enviable characters.
Q: This has been nagging me; shouldn't the characters have gone to church more often? We saw them leaving church in one scene, but the book spans enough time that we should have seen them go to Mass a few times.
A: I know and I wrote another Church scene (which included Finn) that I didn't put into the novel because I wasn't billing it as a Catholic novel. If you're good, maybe I'll dig it out and put it on the blog. :)