Mark Batterson wrote that God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
Isn’t it amazing how God knows what He’s going to call you to do and actually prepares you for it ahead of time?
So, I got this really cool idea for a book from a C.S. Lewis book. And I knew that Lewis and Tolkien would influence it.
I first read the LOTR in 1971 while my husband was serving in Vietnam. I fell madly in love and wanted more of Tolkien, reading most of his other works. Then came the movies. The Fellowship of the Ring (Book I) debuted in 2001. I thought I best read the LOTR again before seeing the films.
The night of September 11, after hours of TV watching the fall of our two towers, I retired to my bath and resumed reading The Two Towers (Book II).
“‘What hope have we?’ said Faramir. ‘ . . . For the Enemy increases and we decrease. We are a failing people, a springless autumn . . . The Men of Númenor were settled far and wide on the shores and seaward regions of the Great Lands, but for the most part they fell into evils and follies. Many became enamoured of the Darkness and the black arts; some were given over wholly to idleness and ease, and some fought among themselves, until they were conquered in their weakness by the wild men.
‘ . . . Yet even so it was Gondor that brought about its own decay, failing by degrees into dotage, and thinking that the Enemy was asleep, who was only banished not destroyed [emphasis mine].’”
Even in a cozy warm bath, my blood froze.
Words penned half a century before rang with such relevancy to shake my being.
Two nights later as Americans withstood the shockwaves, I read:
“The world changed, and a single moment of time was filled with an hour of thought.”
No words printed in the news or spoken on newscasts described my reaction like that sentence.
Tolkien fought in the trenches of the Great War, WWI. He then worked on LOTR during WWII. Yet that 9/11 night in 2001, as I read his words they described America. As spoken by the Lord of Gondor’s gentle son, who had been forced to be a soldier.
“‘War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.’”
For me, the Lord of the Rings will always be connected to 9/11. The impact was indelible.
With my son and a bunch of his fraternity brothers, I went to see the debut of the Return of the King (Book III). Later, I watched the extended DVD versions with their extra features over and over. And, I read the four volumes of The History of the Lord of the Rings by Christopher Tolkien. Then I visited www.theonering.com regularly.
After reading Tolkien, I returned to Lewis’s works and then began devouring books on both authors and their writing. Shall I admit, I was addicted?
Then, while visiting www.theonering.com, I discovered the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s conference, “The Fantastic Worlds of C. S. Lewis & J. R. R. Tolkien.” After attending two of their conferences, this dedicated Tolkien / Lewis fan soon found herself pressed into Aslan’s army. My volunteer work with the foundation began. I felt like Bilbo—the little old hobbit—among the elves. Hobbits being regular down-to-earth people and these Lewis / Tolkien scholars the elves. My training to write the book had begun. It was like going to college in Narnia and Middle Earth.
Coordinating the Texas conference and retreat, I worked with these elves, oops I mean scholars, and read their books on Lewis / Tolkien and their works. Then assisting with our Summer Seminars at Oxford and Cambridge, I stayed in Lewis’s home, the Kilns—entering into the fantastic worlds of those great masters.
Aslan was on the move. And, so was the Spirit. I was moved to write things I never could have imagined. I began my story with two characters in mind, two young English girls—a vicar’s daughter (Lily) and an earl’s daughter (Phila). However, I found that I wasn’t exactly in complete control.
When Tolkien was trying to wind up the LOTR for his publisher, a new character stepped out of the forest who took a major part in the third book of the epic series. And, since Faramir was the brother of another major character in part one, revisions had to be made. And who would have said those words that so impacted me after 9/11 had that gentle soul not joined Tolkien’s cast?
My three male characters entered gracefully—at first. A big Scot (Ollie), however, began as a mild-mannered lesser English lord, short and slightly plump, a dear sweet young man. The name Oliver, “Ollie,” fit his personality to a tee. In the succeeding years, however, his birthright morphed to Scotland. He grew ten inches, sprouted red hair and big ears, and channeled his wild ways into soldiering during the war. But the nickname stuck since the poor lad hated his given name. Phila’s brother (Hugh), the epitome of British nobility, appeared quite naturally. Where and how the American flyer (Dan) came about, I don’t recall, other than sharing our birthplace of Hollywood and calling L.A. home.
I’d planned to tell the entire story from the points of view of the two girls. However, as men tend to be, they demanded a say.
As a result, speaking especially of the three strong WWII veterans, the voices from above and below, insistent angels, and a Spirited Muse, I can’t take a lot of credit for the story.