Belated Happy Easter my friends! Today please join me in welcoming guest blogger Jesse V Coffey! Why is an author of historical fiction on Future Imperfect? Because I believe that the future comes from the past and that past and future are two sides of the same coin called the present. With that in mind I am thrilled to host Jesse for today’s blog and I know you will love her!
Dismissing a Stereotype
I love writing historical fiction. I get a chance to live in other times with other people. Don’t get me wrong; I love the time I live in. But to be able to walk with the likes of Henry the VIII or Thomas á Becket or Catherine the Great is a thrill. But there’s always the problem of how to make historical people real to those of us in modern day. To introduce the elements of humanity, to see the many layers of a person – good and bad – which takes them from a fairly simplistic character to a person who could be sitting next to you on the sofa.
When it came time to write The Savior, I chose a Messiah as one of the main characters – not so much as the main character but certainly the reason the action was happening. And that proved to be a challenge for me. There are so many portrayals out there of Jesus. So many actors have portrayed someone of such great importance to so many – always with a quiet dignity, a regal bearing. How was I going to portray him? Follow that same path? Or find a different one? I decided very quickly that I was going to have to make this my own, to dismiss the stereotype of Jesus the Christ, if I wanted to make this my story and not just parrot what others had done before.
I did a lot of reading about who Jesus might have been really, beyond the way the Bible portrays him. Which involved quite a bit of learning about the “typical” Judean at the time, too. Did you know that there are a lot of Biblical programs on cable? And each program had a different take as well, always looking at what could have been. The History Channels – one and two – and the Biography Channel became my best friends. I DVRed a lot of programs and watched them several times.
I also had my own Catechism to draw on. I took my Instruction from the coolest nun ever, Sister Barbara. I don’t know if the Pope would have sanctioned a lot of what she taught me, but I do know she gave me a lot to think about. She encouraged me to open my mind and not accept the traditional just because. But she also taught me a lot of fascinating legends within the Catholic Church and I used them to form the basis of the plot.
So, rather than play the same old, same old when it came to the Christ, I decided to explore the humanity of the character. I picked up the action just after the brouhaha in the temple, the day that a twelve-year-old Yeshua gave the Sanhedrin one heck of an education. I borrowed from the legends that Sister B taught me, but also from a lot of the Apocryphal texts. The Yeshua of my story was raised as an Essene – a radical group that was very zealous in their beliefs, taking traditional Judaism to an extreme. They believed in a literal sense of the Messiah coming to kick the crap out of the Romans, taking over as a very real King with a palace and a kingdom here on earth.
The legends of the Catholic archives talk about the grand tour that Jesus took, the missing years between that day in the temple and the day he started his ministry. How he traveled from Israel with his uncle – Joseph of Arimethea – to see the lands of Gaul and the UK, then traveling down to Tibet. And how he learns of other beliefs, is influenced by them. The character becomes very real as he transforms from this bratty, arrogant kid to the Messiah that we have known and been taught of within the Christian religion. There are obvious changes in the “mission” he has taken on, something that fits in with the Bible’s take on it all – when he says he’s come to teach a new covenant. To sort of shake up the status quo a little with a gospel of love and peace
In a literary sense, to show that change, I had to start with the exact opposite. In writing, I took very few liberties outside of the stories and the alternate gospels. But I did add that humanity to him, add that sense of the historical. Which added an interesting dimension, I think, and makes him very real to us.
Kentucky author Jesse V Coffey has managed to parlay what some would call a “vivid and active imagination” into a writing career with five books to her credit and more to come. Writing is her passion, reading is her favorite comfort “food”.
Ms. Coffey is currently a member of ASCAP, the Erotic Authors Association, and the KY Independent Writers network. She writes three columns for the news website, Examiner.com/Lexington, as the Literary Examiner and Writing Examiner, as well as the National Indie Romance Novel Examiner. She also writes as J. W. Coffey and Siobhan MacKenzie.
Her current release is The Savior, sold exclusively through Amazon’s KDP Select. Coming later in 2013 — Wilde Mountain Time, a romantic thriller set in New Hampshire’s White Mountain area.
Links to find Ms. Coffey: