For those of you who do not know Dan, he lives in Connecticut and often blogs about the area in and around Hartford (background photo below). He's a natural historian, as well as an incredible photographer. I've come to love the seasons and wildlife of the Northeast through his posts which you can find here.
Please join me in welcoming Dan ...
I was thrilled when Gwen offered to help promote Knuckleheads, the first book in the Dreamer’s Alliance series. It’s so cool to be appearing on her blog. I have enjoyed several of her books. In discussing the subject of this post, I reached back to a question Gwen asked in one of her segments in Story Empire: “Religion and Politics – Part 1.” Toward the end of her post, Gwen said, “I’d love to hear if or how you write about your characters’ spiritual life.” I’m glad she didn’t ask about politics because I avoid that at all costs.
I left the following comment, “My characters grew up with a strong religious influence as children. In the books in the series once they are adults, they reflect on that upbringing, sometimes humorously.”
We agreed that I would more fully answer this question today.
Knuckleheads is a conversation between Zach Amstead, who has recently retired, and his adult daughter, Abbie. The story being told by Zach chronicles his childhood and that of his best friend, William Terrence – Billy. The book describes the way these boys grew up. It describes the values they carried into adulthood, and the experiences in which those values were formed. These are ordinary stories, from which I think most of us form the core values that guide us as adults.
Zach’s father works throughout the book to help the two boys as they struggle to control their emerging paranormal abilities. Zach found himself increasingly able to participate in the lucid dreams he had always had. Billy was plagued with shadowy glimpses of the future.
Zach’s mother and Billy’s grandmother, unaware of their abilities, but aware of the problems they caused, took the boys to church. Through school, church and work at Zach’s father’s bowling alley, Zach and Billy became best friends, and learned to manage themselves in a world in which they didn’t fit well.
The little excerpt below hints at the role their church experience plays into the book. I chose this clip because I don’t think it spoils anything. In this scene, Zach’s mother has picked up Zach and Billy after a Friday night youth service.
One reason is that church was an important part of my childhood experience, and the childhood experience of most of my friends in the 1950s and 60s. The book isn’t autobiographical, but readers of my blog will recognize some of the situations in which these two boys find themselves. I found it almost impossible to not draw on my experience and the experience of others I knew well.
The other reason is that church attendance solved a logistical problem. The demands of the future books in the series required this first story to develop to a point where Zach and Billy were no longer living in the same town. I won’t explain that because it would introduce way too many spoilers.
However, I can say that attendance at the same church gave them a place to meet when they no longer attended the same school. That’s the cool thing about fiction, you can make it work.
Gwen, thanks again for inviting me to spend some time with you and your readers. Also, thank you for the lovely review you left for Knuckleheads. I am glad you enjoyed the story.
Zach and Billy didn't ask for the paranormal powers that were beyond their capacity to understand or control. Zach, with his lucid dreams, and Billy, with his shadowy glimpses of the future, struggle to make sense of the world around them. Adults in authority have no time for what they consider mental outliers of the baby-boom. The boys are institutionalized, marginalized, and ignored. Zach's father realizes the dangers they will face as adults. With no way to comprehend how these boys perceive and move within their world, he must find a way to guide them.
The Dreamer's Alliance Series chronicles the challenges and dangers faced by two men who have been gifted with paranormal abilities. From their struggles to understand and control these powers through their battle with the attempts of corrupt authorities to exploit them.
Dan Antion was born outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up and attended college in that area. Dan has written and published the popular No Facilities blog since 2011. A lifelong interest in writing became a reality after he retired from a successful 42-year-long career in Information Management. Dan lives in Connecticut with his wife, a few pets and all the wildlife they can feed.