Athol Dickson is an award winning author and his latest novel, Lost Mission, is already garnering multiple accolades for it’s intriguing storyline and exceptional prose. I hope you enjoy this insight into two characters living centuries apart in this story. Over to you, Athol:~
Brief physical description
Probably the best way to answer this is to quote from LOST MISSION. There are two main protagonists in the novel. One is Alejandro, a Franciscan friar living in the 1700’s. Here’s what LOST MISSION says about him:
“The Franciscan stood five feet four inches tall, an average Spaniard’s height in the eighteenth century. He was broad and unattractive. Heavy whiskers lurked beneath the surface of his jaw, darkly threatening to burst forth. Fray Alejandro’s brow was large and loomed above the recess of his eyes as if it was a cliff eroded by the pounding of the sea and ready to crash down at any moment. The black fullness of his hair had been shaved at the crown, leaving only a circular fringe around the edges of his head. His nose, once aquiline and proud, had become a perpetual reminder of the violence that had flattened it at some time in the past.
“For all its ugliness, Fray Alejandro’s visage could not mask the gentleness within. His crooked smile shed warmth upon his fellow man. His hands were ever ready with a touch to reassure or steady, or to simply grant the gift of human presence. When someone spoke, be they wise or not, he inclined his head and listened with his entire being, as if the speaker’s words had all the weight of holy writ. In his eyes was love.”
The other protagonist is Lupe, a Mexican shopkeeper from a small village, who enters the USA illegally in order to preach the gospel to us here. LOST MISSION describes her in terms of another man, a stranger, whom she has just met:
”From his appearance this man might have been her brother. Like Lupe, he was not tall. Like Lupe his features called to mind stone carvings of the ancient Mayans. Like Lupe, he had a smooth sloped forehead, pendulous ear lobes, and cheekbones high and proud. His golden skin was flawless, as was hers. Like hers, his lips were thick and sensuous, his teeth the flashing white of lightning, his eyes a pair of black pools without bottoms.”
Danny Trejo could play Alejandro, although Mr. Trejo is older than Alejandro is in the novel
Both Lupe and Alejandro have a simple faith, which is therefore a strong faith. I think that’s part of what Jesus meant when he said we must come to him as little children do. When a child believes, it is with total commitment, without doubts or complications. That’s how Alejandro and Lupe believe. Their doubts are always centered on themselves, never on God.
While Lupe and Alejandro share similar strengths, their weaknesses are different. Lupe is completely willing to suffer in God’s service, but in her willingness she has come to equate service with suffering, as if one cannot exist without the other. So when a great gift and a blessing comes for her, she misses it, because she cannot bring herself to believe it’s possible to serve God and also become richly blessed in earthly ways.
Alejandro, on the other hand, being a Franciscan friar, has already decided to shun all earthly blessings, so his flaw is different. He sees his fellow friars crossing ethical and moral lines, and recognizes what they’re doing for what it is, but he is so afraid of crossing the line into judgmentalism himself that he fails to hold his brothers accountable.
Quirk (if any)
I don’t know if you’d call this a “quirk,” exactly, but Lupe’s faith is so complete, when she experiences a miracle that would rock any normal person’s world, she accepts it as a normal part of life.
The strange thing about Alejandro is, although he fears judgmentalism in himself to the point of being paralysed in the face of other people’s sin, he is absolutely fearless when it comes to risking his own life for others.
Your inspiration for the character
I’ve heard other authors say they base characters on people they meet, or combinations of several personalities they’ve met, but I very seldom create a character based on anything in real life. Instead, I usually have a novel’s theme in mind at the very beginning, and I work out a plot that will explore that theme through action and symbolism. Then I pick or imagine a setting that supports the events of the plot, and only then do I get around to creating characters. So the characters in most of my stories were really inspired by the plot. In other words, I pick personality traits for each character based on what that character needs to do to take the plot where I want it to go. Then I think about the character’s back story, asking myself what events in their past might have led to their personality and life situation in a logical and believable way. Sometimes the physical features of a character are also based on what I need them to do to support the story. At other times, if the physical characteristics are irrelevant, I’ll remember someone I’ve met and describe them, but the physical features of a person are pretty much the only aspects I ever draw from real life, and I only do that occasionally. It’s far more common for me to give a character their physical features completely from my imagination.
Background to the story
LOST MISSION is set in two times, but one place. In the late 1700’s we have Fray Alejandro, a Franciscan, founding a mission to the pagan Indians of what was then called “Alta California.” In the same place, which is now called southern California, we have Lupe de la Garza, an undocumented immigrant who comes to the USA to preach the gospel to Americans, whom she believes are in desperate need of it. Here’s a quote from the press release sent out when the novel was launched:
“Lupe de la Garza, a simple shopkeeper in a mountain village in central Mexico, believes God wants her to go to America to preach the gospel. She is guided on her quest by her people’s greatest treasure: an altarpiece painted by the eighteenth century Franciscan friar who founded her village after fleeing the mysterious destruction of his California mission outpost. When Lupe is distracted by desire for a young minister, and when her preaching in a southern California beach town inspires only apathy and laughter, she begins to lose faith in her quest. Then the slumbering evil that destroyed the friar’s Franciscan mission rises up again after two hundred years, and Lupe once more looks to the altarpiece for guidance, only to find the true purpose of her quest in the midst of her single greatest fear.”
Thanks for sharing, Athol ~ it’s been fascinating My review of Lost Mission will be coming soon to TitleTrakk.com.
On Thursday, join me as the spotlight shines on Kimberly Stuart’s Mia Rathburn from Stretch Marks ~ thankfully she has finished feeding the baby 😉
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