As I said here last week, when I started writing the book that would become The Light of Eidon, my initial intent was to keep the spiritual concepts concealed. This proved more difficult than I imagined, though mostly I didn’t realize it at first. Part of that was due to my own ignorance of religious tradition and beliefs, seeing as I had grown up in an unbelieving family.
For example, I had no real intention of patterning my religious organization after the Roman Catholic church and to my way of thinking, did not. I knew very little about it for one thing, and for another was more interested in devising something that would be generally representative of religious concepts. To that end I took elements from Mormonism (about which I knew more than I did Catholicism), Buddhism, Japanese Shintoism and other things in addition to Catholicism. Alas, people who grew up in the latter faith have informed me that it is very obviously a parallel.
Some can overlook it, others react. But a few, including one friend who left that religion long ago, found the book to be profoundly beneficial in rooting out concepts she had long clung to without realizing it and now considers to be false. As a result of reading The Light of Eidon, she has come to a new understanding of her spiritual life and gained a new freedom from her past.
So I certainly don’t regret the final form the book has taken.
But that was minor compared to the struggles I began to have with the original plan to keep the real Christian elements hidden. I think what happened is that as I continued to write the book I was also growing spiritually. As I came to understand more about my own faith and what the Bible teaches about the core of Christianity, I became less and less enamored with the idea of hiding it all. Besides, it was just plain hard to come up with a salvation equivalent in the Guardian King books that suited me — that communicated the truths of Christianity without looking overtly like it. Some sort of religious dogma had to be advanced, however, both for the Mataio, which was relatively easy, and for the Terstans, which was not. But I had no idea how to solve the problem. So for awhile I tried to write around it.
Even in that state, though, the book landed me two agents who worked in the general market science fiction and fantasy fields and an almost sale at what was then New American Library.
The first agent passed the book around to all the major houses, receiving varying degrees of positive rejections — if there is such a thing. DelRey offered to look at it again, once I cut it down to size. Others praised the writing but, “Alas, it doesn’t suit our needs at this time.” That first agent was the one who nursed it along at NAL for over a year, until the hiring of a new assistant editor. He felt my work needed more humor and sent the book home with a rejection slip.
In the interim I found myself growing dissatisfied with my agent. Half the time I heard from her assistant not from her, so I was never sure who exactly was representing me. It didn’t help, either, that they kept getting me confused with other authors, asking me to send them copies of manuscripts I’d not written. There was no real sense that any of them really cared about my work, and in the end we were both happy to part ways.
Over the next several years I rewrote the entire book, then got a second agent, a former editor at Tor and so far as I know, not a Christian. The second agent was much more excited about what I was doing than the first had been, but she only lasted six months before abandoning agenting. That’s when I received the news that the market was saturated and I needed to write something different.
So I shelved Eidon and began Arena, an alternate world story that from the beginning was conceived as an allegory for the Christian way of life. It was in the writing of that that I really began to chafe against the boundaries I’d stipulated that no one should be able to tell my work was Christian allegory unless they really looked. But I’ll talk more about that next week.