I have decided that I really need to give an explanation for why I am writing Though He Slay Me.
Really, all the credit for inspiration should go to Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I was ten when I first picked up a copy of the original Tarzan of the Apes. I fell in love with John Clayton and was devastated when he died, along with his lovely wife. But then, there was a son who survived.
I followed that son on his journey from childhood to manhood. I loved how he was raised by apes who loved him as their own. I loved how he was smart and quick and agile, how he was caring for those he loved, especially his mother. And how he survived.
That was the part that really got me.
Survival in the jungle, I realized at age ten, was harder than I thought. Tarzan battled lions and apes with his bare hands, yet he know that being a man set him apart from the other animals. He knew that eating human flesh was wrong, so he ate deer and whatever else he caught with his rope or stabbed with his spear or killed with his strength.
Another thing that fascinated me was how he moved.
In all the movies I had seen, Tarzan flew through the trees on vines. Not so. He climbed and leaped from branch to branch or swung on boughs, not vines. He was as graceful as a swan yet as strong as ox.
And when I was eleven, I decided that jungle life sounded fun.
I wanted to go to Africa, I told myself. I want to live like Tarzan. I want to run through the jungle being chased by apes and leopards. I want to leap from branch to branch in the treetops. I want to hunt, using only organic matter and my wits. I want to exist where few men dare to exist. I want to be in constant danger of my life and have fun.
And then, an idea known as Katie Riley was born.
I couldn’t go to Africa, I knew, despite my daydreams. That was out of the question. I had no money and wasn’t born into a wealthy family. There was no way my parents were going to be able to pay my way, and probably not allow me to go, either. Nobody wants their teenage daughter in the jungle with no communication to the outside world. My being able to survive out there was highly illogical, anyway. The jungle wasn’t what I had dreamed, anyway. It was a lot more dangerous and frightful.
Ways I could get around this started forming in my mind. What if, for some reason, I was flying over central Africa when my plane crashed? Everyone else would be unconscious, and I wandered off, never to be seen from again, until several years later when I was finally found.
And then the Idea, the great, wonderful Idea occurred to me.
What if it wasn’t my plane that crashed?
What if it was a character’s?
I had tried to write once or twice before. I had started Soldier Boy and had written a few short stories and poems. But this was my first real inclination to write a full novel. So I started plotting.
Katie (or Jamie, I couldn’t decide) was a twelve-year-old girl who lived in Cairo (I was enthused by Egypt) as a missionary to the entire African continent. (How this would be possible, I have no idea. I was eleven. Bear with me.) When her favorite brother, Jack, was lost to the jungle after a plane crash in a tropical storm, Katie sets out to find him, as she cannot imagine life without him. (Talk about cliche.) Katie’s Search and Rescue chopper crashes in the jungle, also. As she is the only survivor, she must learn to live on her own, this learning many Tarzan-like skills.
From then on, my Idea blossomed.
Katie was definitely going to be her name. She was no longer twelve, but somewhere in the 14-15 age group. Her family and some others ran a small mission on the edge of the savanna. The goals of the mission were to reach ‘natives’ (for lack of a better term) to Christ. Incidents in the jungle realm changed, too. Though she was still to learn several Tarzan-like skills, her main crisis was her faith. She wanted her brother back badly, and everything she tried to do to find her why home and hopefully see her brother again (as she had a feeling he was found) seemed to be futile. Nothing was working. She was surviving, yes, but she was lost in the green abyss of the rain forest surrounding the Congo River. Finally, she would come to a breaking point where she knew she had to give it all up and give it to God. Whether she finds her family and gets home is still untold. (Mwahahahaha)
There are also several aspects to her breaking point (why she’s so afraid to lose Jack, etc.) and probably waaay too many subplots for a novel. But at this point, I don’t really care. I plan to finish the rough draft before January 1st, 2018, and start editing soon thereafter. Hopefully I didn’t give too much away. Sometime I’ll do a post about why I like writing in general, but I love Katie’s story because it inspires me.
And it’s all because of a man named Burroughs wrote a novel that caught my attention and ultimately changed my life.