As I told you before, I thought of “Moses” as a stand-alone novel. Things don’t always work out the way I think they will. C. S. Lewis said, when he was talking about writing, that he never actually wrote a book, instead, “it’s rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say.”
I, in no way, compare myself to the great writers, but I understand his comment. It feels as if the characters talk to us. In the case of “A Higher Calling,” it was Laura who talked to me. That’s why I subtitled the book “Laura’s Tale.”
Being the second book in a trilogy, it continues the story of Sam and his relationship with Laura and her children. The title indicates the message, what is the higher calling of a man’s life? Could the highest calling be fatherhood?
In this book, I presented Sam with a choice. Be a father or be a gunfighter.
Just as in book one, Sam had to earn his redemption, nothing is free. He learned to forgive himself and to accept himself in book one. In book two, he had to decide where he wanted to fit in society and more importantly, a family.
This book allowed me to introduce two of my favorite characters; Francis “Pickles” Kundson and Abernathy.
Pickles is a Kansas dirt farmer. He’s tall and thin. Hardworking and never seems to get a fair shake in life. He is one of a very short list of men who got over on Sam Moses and he has the appaloosa pony to prove it.
Pickles is based on some of the ranchers/cattlemen I met when I worked the livestock auctions while in high school.
Abernathy; cruel, calculating, deadly. When I thought of Abernathy I pictured a cross between the snake in the Garden of Eden and Snidely Whiplash, a villain in the childhood cartoons, “Dudley Do-right.” Amoral, Abernathy is convinced it was the victim’s fault that he was murdered.
The two men are polar opposites. Pickles is caring and concerned about the welfare of others to such a degree he places himself in jeopardy. Abernathy cares only for himself. He expects to be given what he desires and is not afraid to use force to take it if necessary. The only person Abernathy cares about is Sam Moses. He finds the man an interesting study and manages to save Sam’s life, twice.
This book carries my largest regret as the author. If I had it to write over, I’d not end it the way I did. What happens still needs to happen, or there would be no third book, but I would not make it so harsh, so abrupt.
I understand Hemingway rewrote the final page of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” 37 times before he was pleased with it. Again, not comparing myself to him, I spent over a month trying to find a different ending to “A Higher Calling.”
I still wish I could have told it better.
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