|“Just don’t give up trying to do what you
really want to do.
Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can
go wrong.” ~~Ella Fitzgerald
I've finally managed to get most of the stories I wrote in late
2020/early 2021 added to the web site properly and notated on
the Encyclopedia and Timeline. Because 2020 was so odd and
because I really didn't think I'd be writing much at all during
the pandemic but then ended up writing twelve stories
(technically thirteen but more on that later), it's all a bit of
a blur. So I'm just going to do this Q and A with myself
to kind of process all of that and, hopefully, get myself
excited about what's to come for the Dyelanders and Friends!
I hope you're all doing well and maybe enjoying some pleasant
weather here and there!
Q and A with Myself About the 2020/Early 2021
Just a heads up, this contains spoilers for stories from
"Valentine's Vignettes IV" and on.
Question: What have you taken away from writing during this
very odd year?
Answer: Be super careful about what Joshua foresees... and maybe
don't have Joshua foresee anything except very vague things.
I mistakenly believed that because I'm the author, I can fully
control the future of the Dyeland stories. So in December
2019, it seemed completely within my rights to have Joshua foresee
Joccy's medical emergency and the Friends crowding a hospital
waiting room. I mean I created Joccy. I created most
of the Friends. I control their behavior and so...
Well, I don't control pandemics. So that scene never came to
pass because by the time Joccy wound up in the hospital, visitors
to hospitals were severely limited. It was a minor thing but
I definitely learned from it. And, I suppose, it still could
have happened in a manner. The Tunnels dwellers and some of
the Dyelanders may have congregated near the Tunnels' hospital
chamber, assuming Portia would get news first and pass it along to
them. But that's definitely not what I had in mind.
Question: So is that why Mary's and Lucius' stay in New York
was introduced long before it actually became relevant?
Answer: Bingo! When I wrote "Valentine's Vignettes
IV," the first stories of 2020, I was aware of COVID but obviously
had no idea of its impact. So it felt like a good idea to
have Mary and Lucius move into their apartment around Christmas
and have a bit of time to get acclimated. Mary was working
in an in-patient psychiatric facility for young women which is
where I intended Joccy to end up. I think Lucius was going
to be a custodian or something like that which would give him the
opportunity to support Joccy in the hospital, too. The story
that became "You'll Never Walk Alone" would have been set in early
Spring of 2020. But once the lockdown started, I wasn't sure
what to do. I still wanted to write the story as I
envisioned it. But as the weeks and months wore on, I
realized that it simply wasn't going to work. I'm aware, of
course, that in-patient programs still happened during
COVID. But I wanted Joccy to be able to interact with
others, particularly Takoda, and I knew that visitors wouldn't be
allowed during COVID. So I just tried to puzzle it all out
for a while until I landed on the idea that Mary and Lucius would
host Joccy at their home during her recovery which would give me
greater freedom in terms of when Takoda would be allowed to see
Joccy. So, really, the only reason for Mary and Lucius being
stuck in New York from Christmas 2019 to September 2020 is it took
me that long to decide how to make the story work.
I think it ended up working out pretty well and, to be honest,
maybe even for the better as it stopped me from doing tropey
things. Originally, because COVID wasn't an issue, I was
going to have Joccy and Takoda visit Dyeland and be out for a walk
when a violent Spring storm started up. They were going to
take shelter in a cabin where, as the night wore on and thunder
crashed, they would declare their love for each other.
Which... fine. But it is tropey. And, don't get me
wrong, I know I'm tropey at times. But that just seems like
too much in hindsight. Their calm declarations while
visiting a waterfall seem more natural to me.
Question: What's the deal with "A Visit With an Old
Friend"? It was kinda trippy.
Answer: Trippy is good sometimes! But really it
was just that maybe because of the pandemic, I was feeling a
little out of sorts and thinking back on happier, more innocent
times. And I found myself missing Andrew... TBAA's
Andrew. Which you may think "But how? You write about
him all the time!" But I really don't. Dyeland's
Andrew is obviously completely inspired by TBAA's Andrew but
they're not supposed to be the same character. Consider
that, occasionally, some Dyeland characters actually watch Touched
by an Angel. Dyeland exists outside of TBAA.
TBAA's Andrew would never dream of starting up a romantic
relationship with a human and adopting five kids with her!
And while I certainly enjoy writing about Andrew and JenniAnn and
their family, they can't really replace the Andrew that I first
grew to love watching TBAA. So... it was nice to revisit him
even if it was just a dream sequence.
It also felt kinda nice because, initially, Dyeland-Andrew thinks
TBAA-Andrew is John Dye. And he's kinda appalled that Mr.
Dye would be appearing on Earth when someone might very well
recognize him. It's not the case, of course. But just
the idea that Andrew thinks that could happen was comforting to
Question: Will we be seeing Loreena again? Also, did you
just write that story because you wanted froyo?
Answer: Yes, Loreena will be appearing in a future story
involving St. Genesius' Community Theatre. It wasn't a
coincidence that I made her a singer. That being said, I
have no idea when that story will happen because it's completely
contingent on doing a show at St. G's being safe. I could
possibly alter the story so they could be recording the show and
airing it with a virtual-only audience. But, at this point,
I don't think it's safe for even the cast and crew to be crammed
together on a stage. I think by the end of May, I'll have a
better idea of the timing on that.
And it wasn't just because I wanted froyo... But,
yes, I did decide to do a flashback story in part because I miss
visiting shops and cafes and ice cream/froyo parlors. So at
least Joshua, JenniAnn, Belle, and Loreena got to enjoy those
Question: What happened to Sy's dog?
Umm... So I messed up. And probably no one noticed
but it still bothers me. In "Requiem for a King," Ivy gets
Sy a black cat who he names T'Challa. Ivy's dog, Leo, is
fast friends with the new little one. But turns out that
Sy has a dog named Esau who I completely forgot about. So
Esau appears no where in "Requiem." But Esau is alive and
well. I'm just pretending that he was feeling anti-social
the day T'Challa entered the household and, thus, wasn't
mentioned. But he's come out of hiding and has a great
time with his siblings, Leo and T'Challa. Because of this,
I'm now working on a chart of the Dyelanders' and Friends' pets
so this doesn't happen again.
Question: You very seldom feature modern real people in your
stories. Why did you make an exception for "Requiem for
Answer: I feel like the early Dyeland stories that have
"John" as a character are very cringy. I, personally,
can't re-read them. I'm just no longer comfortable with
putting words in the mouths of people with living relatives
around who might find them and be offended. It was one
thing to do it when I was basically a kid. It feels
unseemly for an adult. The Biblical-era characters are
different because 1. they lived so long ago, 2. I'm hardly the
first person doing fictionalized versions of them, and 3. As a
Christian, I feel like I have as much of a claim to them as
family as anyone so while I would still not want to offend
anyone, if someone was offended I don't see how their claim to
Joshua or Maryam or Yosef, etc. would be any stronger than my
But sometimes things happen that are just so sad that I think we
all need a little grace in processing them in whatever ways we
need so long as no one is harmed. I can't entirely explain
why I was so affected by Chadwick Boseman's death. Other
than Black Panther, I hadn't seen him in anything.
But I did love that movie and his performance in it. And
after all the upheaval and the senseless murders of Black men
and women, losing the embodiment of King T'Challa felt so cruel
and sad. Maybe, in some ways, since so much of the trauma
of 2020 played out visually via wrenching videos we saw again
and again on the news, I needed visual closure... even if it was
only in my head. So Mr. Boseman appears at that start of
the story but has no lines because, again, I don't like putting
words in the mouths of people. Since he was Christian, I
felt it was safe to assume he'd be happy about Joshua wanting a
Question: Umm... That flash forward in "God in the
Gloom"??? Was that weird to write?
Answer: Yes and no. Yes, because it's weird to imagine
one's doppelganger in a coffin. No in that I've always
known that was the direction the Dyeland stories were
going. JenniAnn wasn't going to
suddenly become an immortal in this plane of existence.
Her death has been baked into things since I first grew up and
realized that, hey, Andrew and JenniAnn could have something of
a romance without sex being involved. It's been stated in
various stories that one reason God meant for them to be
together is because it would, ultimately, make Andrew a better
angel of death. And while he's already utterly
compassionate, imagine what he's going to be like helping
someone mourn their life partner after he's done the same
Question: "At Last" and "Flowers Never Bend" both had
political themes. Do you think that will continue?
Answer: Sure hope not! While I definitely have my own
political beliefs, I try to keep them out of Dyeland and focus
on issues from a more moral/theological perspective. But
sometimes things happen that just... eesh... Late 2020
going into early 2021 was A LOT politically-speaking in the
U.S. So when I needed to work through that, obviously, I
turned to stories as per my usual. I also thought it was
interesting to consider how Andrew who may have previously had a
very hands-off approach to politics might have, at least
personally, formed some opinions based on the impact on his
family. I think being an angel should be apolitical but in
his personal life... maybe not so much. But, no, future
stories aren't gonna have JenniAnn making phone calls on behalf
of the DCCC or anything like that.
Question: In the latest Christmas story,
Joshua referred to his "couslings." Why did you decide
to deal with the brothers and sisters of Jesus in that
Answer: I think I've explained this elsewhere but maybe not
Firstly, this isn't a real issue for me. I was raised
Catholic and taught that they were either cousins or Joseph's
children from a prior marriage that ended with the death of his
first wife. But I also have a lot of Protestant influence
and there they were the children of Mary and Joseph.
Frankly, I don't think Mary's and Joseph's marital relations or
lack there of are my business. But I recognize that this
is a sensitive issue for some people. I didn't want to say
they were Maryam's and Yosef's biological children if that was
going to freak people out. But given I had Yosef at or
around 19 when he marries Maryam, it obviously wasn't possible
for him to have fathered several children beforehand.
Secondly, adoption is a pretty big theme running through the
Dyeland stories so, for me, it made a lot of sense for the
"couslings" to have been adopted. I think the Friends who
have adopted would find a lot of comfort in knowing that Maryam
and Yosef also took in kids who were adopted.
Finally, it was just plain convenient. If I'd had them be
Yeshua's half-siblings then they would have been a fixture in
the home through out his childhood. That would have made
some flashbacks more complicated in that I'd have to address
what these half dozen other characters were doing at any given
Question: How does Crowley get from Point A to Point B?
He's a demon and then, suddenly, he's a Friend in the flash
You'll find out! The introduction of Aziraphale and
Crowley didn't exactly go as planned. I probably would not
have included them in the Christmas story and instead let their
story play out chronologically except... I really wasn't sure
what to do with "COVID Christmas" and the only ideas I was
coming up with were what you saw in "God With Us." And I
felt like I needed Aziraphale and Crowley to anchor that.
But, rest assured, you will find out how Joshua and Crowley make
peace, etc. But, for the first time in a long while, I'm
not the one writing it! Sierra is. Exciting!
Keep checking here for that story when it's released: http://www.miscjabb.onthisside.net/azicrowley.html
Crowley and Aziraphale are also featured in the thirteenth story
I wrote which I'm holding onto for now. That one I think I
will wait to publish until after the story of their introduction
to Dyeland comes out.
Question: So what comes next?
Answer: Barring some sort of cultural event prompting a
response via story, I'm taking a bit of a hiatus... depending on
my local weather and COVID. There's some post-mouse clean
up that I've been putting off because it would be easier to do
outside but all the snow and ice and frigid cold prevented
that. Well, today we're getting a high in the mid-70s
which is absolutely lovely. So I'm gonna get going with
I do have some story ideas but most of them require characters
to be able to move freely in New York. For example,
there's the story hinted at in the end of "God With Us" which
features the St. G's cast and crew putting on Jesus Christ
Superstar again. I have another story in mind which
would feature Andrew and JenniAnn dealing with a significant
health setback leading up to their anam cara ceremony in
El-Chanan... featuring a return of those pesky demons but also
an as yet unseen Big Name Angel. I'd also like to do a
story with the two of them working an assignment together as a
couple. I haven't written a purely "assignment story" in a
long time and definitely not since Andrew and JenniAnn moved in
together. So I'd like to explore how they work together
when they're not embedded in their larger, supportive group.
newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for inspiring me to print a
bunch of photos of him that I then plastered onto my high school
locker, some of which then ended up on the closet door of my old
bedroom at my parents' house and then got transferred to my
crafting cabinets in my own home... cabinets I now realize the
plumber I recently hired opened whilst looking for the water
shut off so... lol...
(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this
page are from Touched by an Angel and Promised
Land and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline
Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are
not being used to seek profit.)