I once told a friend that it was impossible for me to write a novel without a nun or a priest in it. In my household this has become a bit of a joke; my husband likes to say, “Oh you wouldn’t like this book or movie! No one’s searching for God!” Well, sometimes it is true.
I am myself a church mouse; I can hardly pass an old church or chapel in England without slipping inside. Oh the history! Sometimes a thousand years or more in one church. Women were praying for families seven hundred years ago in the very spot where you stand.
Roughly I can put the nuns, priests and devout characters in novels in three categories: sleuth, spiritual seekers, and secondary characters who slip in and out of pages baptizing and burying (in the many periods of historical fiction, religion was a major part of one’s life.) And of course the first two categories intermingle. . . .
My own most spiritual novel NICHOLAS COOKE is about an Elizabethan boy who grows up as an actor, soldier and physician and longs to be a priest and serve God but is always in too much trouble; it was published in the 90s by W.W. Norton and is now available on Kindle. I was involved in my own intense spiritual search when I wrote it but even with that, I can’t say where it came from. The spiritual parts of the writing descended on me as the light does in Riley’s novel. “I have never once seen God, and yet I feel Him more intensely than I feel you. It burns inside me so fiercely that it should kill me.” Library Journal called it “An exquisitely drawn portrait of a robust age and a complex man at war with himself.” I was astonished when the novel was featured in People Magazine. Of all my books!
More about the author and her works here. I might have to check out Nicholas Cooke!