"Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything."
~~Muhammad Ali

Hi all,

Okay, I'm gonna level with you...  This newsletter fell in between me reading Me Before You and seeing its film adaptation.  So I'm just a lil bit of a wreck.  ;-)  Therefore, this is a short, pretty unimaginative newsletter.  Ah well.

Henriette, one of our members, requested that I let you all know that she's written a series of stories dedicated to John Dye.  You can read Touched by an Angel- Hubbard Street here.  I've not had a chance to read the stories myself but I'm sure Henriette would love to hear from you if you do read them.

Until next time...

God bless,

Ask a JABB Co-Founder

So these are a compilation of questions I know people have asked me over the years and, near as I can tell, I never addressed them in a newsletter.  I can't remember who asked but if you recognize one of your questions below... thanks!

1.  What Touched by an Angel episodes inspire you the most when writing Dyeland stories?

Good question and it's actually episodes I don't particularly like.  For me, fanfic is almost always about fixing so
mething that's broken.  It could be something personal, using a story as a sort of therapy.  But it could also be something in the original product.  So, for example, Arthur was born of my frustration with "Netherlands."  I basically had to rewrite the episode for myself in a way that made sense for me.  Among my many issues with the episode as it was written is it didn't really explain how an angel, who is supposedly non-romantic and asexual, bonded so intensely and so soon with a stranger... and that the connection had such power that Satan could use it as a temptation.  The only way I could make sense of that is by applying my existing anam cara idea to it.  If Arthur was Monica's anam cara then the immediate spark made sense.  But then why wouldn't God let them be together?  Why did that have to only be an option with Satan?  Simple answer: God did want them to be together.  They just needed to work out some personal things first (and Arthur had to help conceive Liam... gotta have Liam!).  So Arthur came back into Monica's story.

I also wasn't a fan of how Gloria's introduction to life on Earth was handled and "The Blue Angel," in particular, about sent me over the edge.  I mean really!  A not even two year old being made to believe that she'd have to strip on TV?  That's horrid!  So I wanted to show how I think a newbie angel should be introduced to humanity.  Enter Violeta. 

Finally, there was the finale.  Sooo much about it is off-putting to me.  I didn't like how Zack was handled... so enter Jack/Joshua.  I didn't like the angels being separated... so now they're not.  I didn't like how God was there in person for Monica's promotion but not Andrew's... so He was there for Andrew's in Dyeland stories. 

So, in a manner, the TBAA episodes that I'm most grateful for are the episodes I least enjoy. 

I should also probably say something about the rumored "Andrew put on trial for murder" episode.  Whether it was always a rumor or a plotline that was scrapped, I don't know.  But I wanted that episode!  So when it never appeared, I wrote a story.  And that was really the beginning of serious Dyeland stories.

2.  So characters from Beauty and the Beast and Moonlight have been inserted into Dyeland stories but why did you stop bringing in outside characters?

There are a few answers to this.  For one, I'm simply not as attached to TV shows as I was back then.  I don't have a pressing need to give proper continuations to any recently canceled series.  Second, my favorite current TV shows don't really mesh with the Dyeland universe.  I love Penny Dreadful but between the salty language and alternative take on cosmology, it simply doesn't fit.  Not to mention that show's still ongoing and, I hope, gets a satisfying ending in time.  Finally, we've generated so many original characters that importing some just plain isn't necessary.

3.  How do you decide which biblical/historical people to incorporate into stories?

It's pretty much just a matter of whomever will suit my purposes.  There are some givens.  If Jesus were to come back to Earth and live among us, who do You think He'd most want around to help Him?  Mary and Joseph seem like obvious choices.  I didn't initially intend for John the Baptist to show up but I needed him for a Godspell related gag and then I just really liked how he came off so I kept him around.  When I wanted someone to be with Joshua at a concentration camp in "Chava," involving the first of the three patriarchs, Abraham, just felt right.  It also worked well with all the star imagery in light of Genesis 15:5.

Other times, I used assorted characters to try to explain "inconsistencies."  It didn't seem realistic to me that the Friends would be hanging around with Joshua and no one would think to ask about the rather divisive "brothers and sisters of Jesus."  Not wanting to adopt the traditional Protestant (siblings) or Catholic (cousins or step-siblings) views, I invented a family tree for Yosef that involved a deceased sister and brother-in-law and the adoption of nieces and nephews by him and Maryam... hence making this enigmatic group Yeshua's cousins AND siblings.  Since the Bible didn't give us any names for the "sisters," I had to make them up.  The "brothers'" names were pulled from the Aramaic Bible. 

Yoninah was also an attempt to explain how it was Mary would have a sister named... Mary.  That seems an odd practice.  It also didn't fly with the storyline I already had established with Maryam as an only child.  So Mary, wife of Cleopas, become Yosef's sister who was named for Maryam and went by her nickname.  I also liked the idea that then someone from Yosef's family of origin was present at the Crucifixion.

I'll happily invent theories but I try to never directly contradict the Bible and hope I've succeeded with that.  Other historical figures are another matter...  For my witch trial story, I invented everyone and even an entire town.  The thing about that is there are so many theories about the witch trials but no one can be totally sure which is correct.  So I didn't want to lay the blame at the feet of real people and say they were jealous fiends when maybe they were mentally ill.  Who Mary, wife of Cleopas, is related to doesn't really have any moral import.  If I'm wrong about her, I doubt anyone really cares.  But there are still people who trace their family tree back to the participants in the Salem witch trials and I didn't want to cause offense to them.

Finally, I wrote a good chunk of "The Carpenter" without fully committing to whether or not I'd involve Yehuda/Judas Iscariot.  Eventually, I went with it because a few years previously, I'd referenced in a story that Satan was actually scared of Andrew.  That's a pretty big deal and begs the question... why?  I figured that there had to be some momentous thing that Satan suspected Andrew would be involved with.  Leading up a theatrical production that would eventually lead to the redemption of someone regarded as among the worst of sinners would definitely make Satan uneasy. 

4.  From Kim: How much has your vision of Andrew changed over the course of writing the Dyeland stories?

Wow.  So I think this has to be a twofold answer.  One for the Andrew we saw on TV and one for the Andrew in the Dyeland stories.

First, TBAA's Andrew: I think the biggest change there is I used to get so worked up about how Monica and Tess didn't give Andrew enough opportunities to talk about his feelings.  I now realize that sometimes talking doesn't help.  Sometimes, when we're hurting, we don't want to talk.  But we still might want someone to just be with us.  Andrew didn't need to be coerced into sharing his feelings.  And, as I've grown older and read more news and seen more things, I have a greater appreciation for how truly difficult Andrew's assignments could be.  The things he sees and hears...  ::shivers::  I always viewed him as strong and brave but moreso now.

With Dyeland's Andrew, variations of the above apply.  I realize now that it might not be helpful to him to bare his soul to JenniAnn after a tough assignment.  It may even be harmful.  And, again, I know more about the horror that's out there in the world.  I think the biggest change, though, is I always viewed his relationship with JenniAnn as her being in love with him and him just not wanting to upset her.  But then I started to really think about what Andrew's life has been like.  We can assume he spent a considerable amount of time in Heaven before coming to Earth, I think.  So his "childhood" was one of constantly being surrounded by unconditional love.  He no doubt grew used to having that endless support and affection.  And then his work begins.  And he sees and experiences cruelty.  He's dedicated to his God and his work so he's not going to flee Earth every time he gets upset.  But why would he not want a piece of that love he was born into?  So it began to seem much more believable that Andrew would be very drawn to the idea of having someone he could get affection and love from even when he couldn't be in Heaven.  And thank goodness because I haven't the foggiest what I'd be doing with my time if I didn't have Andrew and JenniAnn and their kith and kin to write about!  :-)

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for helping make me into a sap.  Sigh...  :-)

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)