Thinking about the theme of Dark Fire

I just finished re-reading Dark Fire with the kind of satisfaction a parent has when the troublesome adolescent grows up to be an admirable person in his or her own right. It took so many years to write this book! Version after version, pursued a certain distance and then abandoned for a while and begun again a different way. Some day when I really have nothing else to do, I’m going to go back and count the number of times I tried and failed to write this book.

I can see why it took so long, now. The book as it exists is nothing like it would have been any time earlier. Somehow the plot took two or three seemingly separate themes and wove them together into one seamless whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

A few minutes ago, I thought, “It would be worthwhile to give people a sense of what the book is about. Give them a reason to read it.” So I thought, What is the theme of the story? And I realized that, in one way and another, it’s all about the existence and meaning of what are called higher powers.

At one level, there is the struggle for survival. Certain forces wish to destroy the C.T. Merriman Institute because they don’t want it teaching people how to access certain abilities. How do C.T. and his friends counter these forces?

At another, there is the question of life and death, faith and doubt, love and loss, as people have to cope with the mortality of those they love. There’s nothing like the specter of a possible death sentence (cancer, in this instance) to show you what you really believe.

At yet another level, there is the question of readjustment. What happens when you begin to develop new powers and abilities, when you alter your view of things? What does it do to your home life, your career, your familiar sense of yourself?

And of course always there is the question of what is real and what is illusion? What is important and what is a waste of time?

As a say, a certain sense of satisfaction. Not perfect, surely, but the best I can do at the moment. I hope people will read it with enjoyment.

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