|“If we had no winter, the spring
would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome.”
So before I forget... Apparently, over a year ago, Promised
Land came out on DVD for Region 1 (U.S. and
Canada). I completely missed this pretty great news and
only got clued in last week so now I'm spreading the
word. It's a complete series set so it'll have both of
the episodes that John Dye appeared in as Andrew. Yay!
Secondly, believe it or not, I'm still working on the
Christmas story which, if you've been reading it, you've
realized is less a Christmas story and more of an "I didn't
get to what I wanted to this year so I'm going to throw
everything I missed into this frame story that just happens to
be set at Christmas" story. So I'm going to resume
adding to it... maybe not every evening... with the goal being
to have it finished by next weekend. I really hoped to
have it done this week but between being sick for a few days
and then some flu exposure at my work place, I spent more than
the usual amount of time cleaning this weekend. So...
I'm pretty zonked! But, by the time you get this, there
will be a new update on that story.
And I guess that's it for now! Since I wanted to spend
time on the story, this is really a hodge-podge of stuff.
I hope 2020 is treating you all well!
Ask a JABB Co-Founder: The More Randomness
Question: How common is the angel-human
anam cara thing and why do some of the angels seem to have
never heard of it?
Answer: There are likely lots of
lifestyles and traditions that you've never heard of and I
believe Heaven is infinitely more vast and varied than
Earth. So I don't think it's surprising that a
resident of Heaven wouldn't know about everything going on
among their many, many, many fellow angels.
I also think that it's part of God's plan that such
relationships often pop up in clusters. While there
are isolated cases (Eli and Sophia), I don't think it's
coincidence that the other angel-human anam caras are part
of wider communities that have multiple instances of it,
like El-Chanan and the Friends. There are challenges
that come with that lifestyle and a support system of
similar or at least informed people seems important.
But given the stories are about the Friends and, to a much
lesser extent, El-Chanan, it gives the impression that it's
more common than it is.
It also makes sense to me that, given it is fairly rare, God
wouldn't be broadcasting about anam caras. He wouldn't
want to set the angels up to believe they have a soul mate
out there when they may not... other than Him. He is
not the Hallmark Channel. ;-) Of course, there's
probably some unavoidable risk of that with the anam
cara-heavy communities like El-Chanan and the Friends.
Question: Are there aspects of writing the Dyeland stories
that are difficult for you that you didn't see coming?
Answer: Yes. And I suppose the
most obvious... and saddest... one is that I never imagined
that John Dye would die when JABB was still being
written. It's not like I spent a whole lot of time
thinking about his future... or even JABB's really.
But I suppose I imagined being fifty or sixty or seventy
something with JABB long in the past and only then learning
that John had passed away. So to think that his death
would be something that would actually need to be
acknowledged in a story... no way. And, I suppose,
technically it didn't *need* to be. He wasn't a
character in the stories. But he was such a force in
so many of the characters' lives that it felt wrong to just
breeze on by. So that first year or two was
rough-going. And still, every so often, I feel a
little discombobulated when I use a certain word or write a
certain interaction. For example, while it doesn't
happen with the frequency that it used to, I sometimes still
take a sad pause any time JenniAnn rests her head or hand
over Andrew's heart. But then the same thing happens
when every anyone does the same thing with Joshua so...
maybe that's just me being weird.
Completely unrelated to that, it's sometimes really hard for
me to deal with the villains in any given story. It
may surprise basically no one reading this that I'm pretty
liberal. I don't support the death penalty. But
in fictional worlds... I basically turn into Liam Neeson and
want to use my particular set of skills to destroy the
characters I don't like... not usually in a physical
way. More like emotionally icing them out and, yes,
inflicting psychological trauma. But with these
stories, I have to remind myself that they're God's
children, too, and He wills good for them. He doesn't
give up and He doesn't stop loving them. So... while I
may make things unpleasant for them, I have to strongly
resist the urge to want to leave them as sniveling messes
cowering in the corner of a self-made dungeon. I mean
that could happen for a bit of time... I'm not a saint...
but I try to leave a light on for them.
Question: We haven't gotten into Andrew's head a whole
terrible lot lately. Will we again?
Answer: I sure hope so! Once I get
around to writing the The Haunting of Hill House
story, that will largely be from Andrew's point of
view. While I'm sure JenniAnn has some interesting
takes on that, I intend for her to verbalize her views and
for most of the interior stuff (musings, dreams, etc.) to
come from Andrew.
Realization- JenniAnn experiences this over time but
especially in "Chava." She realizes that prodding Andrew
to open up was an often misguided, selfish thing to do.
Yes, she wanted to be his confidante. But he loved her
and didn't want to subject her to the darkness he experienced
during some assignments. Neither of them was completely
in the right. Andrew could have been a little more open
and honest. But JenniAnn took things too far and didn't
realize it until she'd matured and experienced some troubling
things for herself and came to realize that ruminating about
trauma to someone else isn't always the best medicine.
More seriously, Yehuda experienced this and it prompted his
suicide. He thought he had Yeshua's mission all figured
out, that Yeshua was doing it wrong, and that he could nudge
him in the right direction. Instead, Yeshua was brutally
killed. It took Yehuda 2,000 years to realize that this,
too, was God's plan and he needed to accept His forgiveness.
Household- I think Willowveil counts as this. Not
only do Andrew and JenniAnn have a pretty eclectic family but
they're currently hosting Takoda, the protege of an old friend
of Andrew's, and Marty, the angelic scribe, hangs out there,
too, sometimes. Ivy and Violeta regularly pop in.
They keep a room for Joshua and, whenever he visits, Friends
descend upon Willowveil en masse. And that's not
mentioning any of the many, many pets.
Age- It happens sometimes with the characters, not
surprising since a bunch of angels, spirits, and vampires are
involved. In one particularly problematic case, a
married Isolde and Marco have to be careful because she looks
to be around 15 and he appears to be well into his
twenties. In actuality, they're both several hundred
years old and Isolde is slightly older than her husband.
I think it's also safe to assume that the would-be do-gooders
who try to "rescue" Isra from Behnam in "Hope and Healing"
believed that he was considerably older than his wife.
This isn't actually true. Both were born in 1993.
But because Behnam was steeped in stress and trauma from an
early age, he started to go gray as a very young man.
Early on, Andrew was also mindful of working cases with
Violeta since she appeared to be in her twenties and with him
in his thirties, they could be mistaken for a couple.
This wouldn't be a huge deal but Violeta was a teenager and
would have been icked out by the assumption. Since she's
come into her own a bit more and dresses more her age and
Andrew's started to age, it's more likely people would take
them for father and daughter... still not the truth but
definitely less problematic. A strange example happens
in "Ivy" when JenniAnn's friend, Carrie, is horrified to think
a thirtysomething Andrew took advantage of a teenaged JenniAnn
in high school. Carrie eventually learns that Andrew is,
at minimum, 6,000 years old. But given she also learns
he's an angel, she actually feels better about the situation
even though the age gap is much, much larger than she
assumed. It's also pretty safe to assume that this
happens with all of the biblical characters. If someone
not in the know were asked to guess Joshua's birth year,
they'd be much more apt to choose 1984 than 1 AD.
and Edgier- I think the Dyeland stories are definitely
darker and sometimes edgier than TBAA. And the later
Dyeland stories are without question darker and edgier than
the early, goofy ones. I don't, of course, think this
makes them better than TBAA. The show was created for
family viewing. When I write Dyeland stories, I assume
readers are high school age or older. I also think the
change is just a reflection of the world. I actually
don't think 2019 is inherently darker and edgier than, say,
1999. What I do think is that, thanks to social media
and the like, a greater number of people are aware of things
like the global sex trade, clerical abuse, and other issues
that the Dyeland stories have explored but that TBAA
didn't. Stories also aren't bound to a 45 minute
format. For example, if Emma had been a character in a
TBAA episode, the show likely would have ended with Peter
escorting her into a therapist's office with her smiling
beatifically after words from an angel helped her move past
the sexual abuse she suffered. Cue the dove. With
an ongoing story, Emma heals but her past still informs her
life, sometimes in troubling ways. There's never a time
when we can just totally set aside concerns that Emma might be
triggered. In-universe, I sometimes think of Monica and
Arthur as the darker and edgier version of Andrew and
JenniAnn. Granted, the latter have had their
problems. But they never had to deal with a love-child
(Liam) or divergent sexualities. While Arthur and Monica
are happily settled into life with Liam now and wouldn't
change a thing, I would imagine the latter is still sometimes
an issue... which maybe, one day, I'll have the courage to
deal with. I also think, in a very positive way, Joshua
is much darker and edgier than Zack on TBAA... likely due to
the Dyeland stories not having to adhere to the Jesus Taboo
and simply having much more time to focus on the
Personality Change- You'd be forgiven for not seeing a
whole lot of the Bible's John the Baptist in Dyeland's
John/Yohannan. The former is a fiery preacher... the
latter is often comic relief. Still, there are
definitely moments when you can see the firebrand... like when
John wanted to appear headless to the villainous bishop in
"Broken Hallelujahs." But for most of the stories, John
is a fun-loving guy who enjoys teasing his cousin, hanging out
with the Friends, and being more than a little
sentimental. I think this makes sense, though.
John of the Bible had a mission to complete which he
did. Now he can relax and watch his cousin's mission
play out. That doesn't mean he doesn't still get angry
sometimes. But now he knows the vipers have already been
defeated... sometimes they just don't know it yet.
Sense of Personal Space- For as much as Andrew and
JenniAnn were alarmingly reserved in terms of physical
affection for many, many years, JenniAnn completely forgets
the meaning of the word "reserved" when it comes to
Joshua. Thankfully, Joshua is okay with this.
Because she's not the only one... Especially among the
female friends, Joshua is routinely kissed, caressed, snuggled
up to, glommed onto, and more. If he were any other guy,
the behavior could, quite reasonably, rile the women's
significant others. But, given who Joshua is, even the
men tend to be more affectionate towards him than they are
with other men. And it's quite possible they'd act
exactly like the female characters if not for societal "rules"
that more closely police physical interactions between
men. Joshua himself realizes he occupies a very special
zone, of course. When he and JenniAnn go to D.C., he
books them a single room with two beds. It would be
really strange (or the stuff of sitcoms) for a non-married,
non-related male/female pair to share a hotel room in most
circumstances. For the man to deliberately set it up
that way would actually come off as pretty creepy, I
think. But in this case, Joshua no doubt knows JenniAnn
is going to have a nightmare and need to be comforted.
So, by sharing a room, they bypass the potential awkwardness
of slipping into the other's room during the night. The
whole thing most closely resembles a parent sleeping on the
floor by their fussy kid's crib... waiting to be needed.
This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye
for looking so darn good in hats. Seriously... that
first photo, especially...
(Photo Credits: The
photographs used on this page are from
Promised Land and Touched by an Angel
and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline
Productions, and Moon Water Productions.
They are not being used to seek profit.)