I love reading a good epic. Or, for those of you more old-fashioned folk who believe only a very long poem deserves that title, I love action stories. And what are epics but magnifying glasses on normal, every day life with all its mundane challenges and little triumphs?
Enter one of the greatest adventure stories ever told: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Like the books we define as “speculative fiction,” today, Robinson Crusoe was a compelling adventure that took its readers away from their own world and into the dramatic life of a certain man with the initials of RC.
But Robinson Crusoe was more than just an adventurer or a castaway or even a friend of Friday’s. He was something we can all relate to, whether we want to or not. He was a person running away from God. In fact, his every misadventure at sea up to the island seemed to be a call of repentance. And when he didn’t, the island was phase two to bring Robinson Crusoe into a relationship with his Maker as he learns how to survive.
Emily Rogers in my novel Castaways may not be purposefully running away from her God like Crusoe was, but, like many of us, she was inadvertently walking further into herself and into the inevitable arms of despair. Of course, being stranded on an apparently deserted island with two small children and an acquaintance (albeit a handsome one), is definitely a wake-up call.
I don’t know about you, but I need a wake-up call (both physical and spiritual) about every single day. Thankfully I’m not being thrown onto deserted island every day (or not so thankfully, if a handsome acquaintance was to be thrown there too), but I do need to remind myself of these truths. And reading epic adventures are a tried and true way to do that.
“Peril as a possession
‘tis good to bear,
Danger disintegrates satiety;
There’s Basis there
Begets an awe,
That searches Human Nature’s creases
As clean as Fire”
Even if we can’t experience that peril ourselves, we can still enjoy it vicariously, and strive to do something bigger in our small world. Even if that small thing is learning to surrender to God like Robinson Crusoe or find hope in Him like Emily Rogers.
Again in the words of Miss Dickinson:
“The Gleam of an heroic act,
Such strange illumination-
The Possible’s slow fuse is literary
By the Imagination!”
So that is why I’m an epiomaniac. And that is why I am a bibliomaniac. Whether it’s a teenage superhero learning how to truly thwart evil, a trained spy realizing he’s not alone, or even a completely normal person getting thrown into an extraordinary adventure that reminds her there is a God taking care of her, I want to remind myself important truths that get shuffled under the carpet by everyday mundane life. I want to inspire myself to rise above it all, even if it’s just doing the same stuff–but to God’s glory. And, yes, I find it easiest to examine this truth while the characters are on the run, uncovering secrets, or falling in love–preferably all at the same time.
So until I can be either a superhero or a spy (or a superhero spy!… spy superhero?), I’ll just be a self-diagnosed maniac.
“Younger readers will take delight in this light, sweet tale.”
— Lorehaven Magazine
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