This little detail didn’t appear in the book’s manuscript, but the dusty gravel road bending among green trees that the Harrison family lives beside is called “Harrison Lane” after them. It was actually named by the county because they’re almost the only house on that road and when every road had to be named something (to keep things in order) they asked Mr. Harrison “What’s your last name?” He said “Harrison” so they named the little gravel byway after him.
A small point like this can give you an idea of how long the Harrisons have been around, in a fixed way, in one place. A very long time. And they are well-respected within the community—in a way—although people do think they’re kind of odd. People in small towns can be very narrow-minded, you know. There is something quietly lovely about their home and the girls, who’ve always lived this way, don’t know how nice and cozy their lives might look to other people.
Anybody in their right minds would view the Harrisons as people you’d want to know. They have a great home life, a great home, a great religious faith, and a great loyalty to each other. Anyone who tries to bother them (like the polygamists who appeared in an intermediate draft of the book) are very mistaken about what this family represents. That's why this area was originally presented as very amusing, because it never occurred to me anyone could be bothered by it. The concept of such people trying to take advantage of the Harrison girls is categorically funny to anyone who perceives what the story is really about. But after I received feedback from several people that they took it quite seriously, I felt it was being misunderstood and removed it as a distraction. Meanwhile, our protagonists return to being the Harrisons of Harrison Lane, which is what they would have done in any case whether this area was included or not.
You don't run into people like the Harrisons very often. They truly are unusual, but that’s not always a bad thing.
And there will be more updates.
One of the most memorable moments, I think for anyone who’s read Ryan and Essie, is when Tarvelas dies. She is connected to a mirror and when Ryan pulls it out, she dies by the end of the book. Everyone is very upset by this, especially since both Ryan and Essie have come to admire her. But in a place shrouded in secrecy, to which they have just come as visitors, there must have been a lot leading up to this.
Why her? Why not someone else? What does this relationship with the Mirror really mean?
Tarvelas explains it as essentially a power like God, who speaks to the people of Caricanus through the Mirrors and has chosen her as a voice because the Mirror is in danger. But she doesn’t seem at all surprised when she dies. In fact, at all times she has an odd smile on her face as if she accepts it. Amid all the underlying things buried in Ryan and Essie is the potential idea that Tarvelas isn’t actually good. Maybe she’s not completely bad, but we mostly see her through Ryan’s eyes and he makes no effort to know more about her.
It’s not even sure that she’s as young as she looks. What if she’s actually old and made some mistakes in her past that mean she has to die now? And if so, what mistakes would these have been? Maybe an interaction with one of the other characters? It doesn’t seem threatening to anyone else, but it is a tipoff that while Ryan and Essie is a simple story, its characters are anything but.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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