I was at a family get together Saturday and was once again faced with the inevitable question: so, what's your book about?
And really, there is no easy answer. Because it really is more than 'boy meets girl'. It's about battling fear. It's about letting past wounds heal. It's about finding the courage to face an uncertain future. It's about family discord and unity. It's about faith and doubting...and finding faith again. It's about the loss of a loved one and the impact it has on the entire family.
And there's a dragon in it.
Okay, she's just in Craig's dreams, but she's still there. And she is one of the antagonists in the novel. Although we never meet the woman the dragon represents until late in the novel, her influence over Craig even as an adult is undeniable. His friend/shrink Kevin calls him on it more than once in the novel, telling Craig that he needs to stop comparing every woman he meets to his stepmother. He denies it, but Craig does indeed compare Angela and his stepmother Veronica...and he can't help but notice the differences. How Angela doesn't push herself on him, how she tries to consistently put others above herself, how her touch doesn't do the same thing to him that his stepmother's did. Oh, it definitely arouses him, but it doesn't disgust him.
As an adult survivor of molestation, one of Craig's biggest struggle is with his own sexuality. While the community in general thinks he is homosexual and he doesn't do anything to change their minds, the only thing about Craig that is in the closet is his romantic streak. He's content as he is, for the most part. At least, he thinks he is. The truth is before he formally met Angela, he was a lonely recluse. Oh, he was friendly to all but he made no real friends in the time he lived in Tyler's Grove. Afraid that all women were like his stepmother, he not only shut women out...he shut men out as well because of the father that was unable to protect him and blind to what had happened.
The sole exception would be his friend Kevin, but even that is on his own terms. He calls Kevin sporadically, usually only when something has sparked the dream sequence they both refer to as The Dragon Dream. Kevin's wife Sherry is considered a friend, but mostly by association. Kevin and Craig's relationship is probably seed for another post at a later date.
In the prologue, which I will forever question whether it was a good literary move or not, the comment about Craig is made: he no longer tried to escape the nightmare he was caught in. He made the mistake of accepting what he had been told, of accepting that the nightmare was never going to end. And then he caught a glimpse of sunlight in his darkness and he was faced with a whole new dilemma. At once afraid to embrace the sunlight, and yet afraid to lose it.
But once he had a taste of happiness, he gave himself to the chase with his whole heart.
More on the 'chase' on Thursday...