Love a Good Story —- Radio Hosts are Interested in . . .


I just need to say that my radio shows are turning out very well. I am truly enjoying them, and I see now that what it takes to make a show good depends on the quality of the host. My hosts for each and every show have all been excellent and have all come up with good questions that get at the heart of my novel. Being on the radio has enabled me to see my own novel from the aspect of the reader.  When a writer sits down to create a story, they look at all the elements of story telling and the techniques used to enhance the quality of the story, the mechanical side of writing. We hope that we have written our story so that you will see not just the story but the themes and concepts, as well as the story underneath that are woven throughout the main story. Certainly reviews help us see that, but for Blessings and Curses, each host has made me see that I do have those themes and concepts and they are what I want the readers to see and understand. One thing that each host has been interested in is prison ministry.

My main character, Olivia Douglass, in Blessings and Curses was asked by her parish priest to pray with an inmate on death row. After having gone through three years of seminary, she does not want to continue and become a priest. The radio hosts all wanted to know more about prison ministry. The question brought to my mind the times when I worked in high schools and not only did I teach, but I also did educational testing for school systems with some students. A few times I was asked to go to a detention center to test a student. The question from the hosts on the radio made me think back over those times. I remember the very first time I went to test a student, I was so frightened. Even though I was there in an official capacity, I was scared to death. Directions were given to me in one word sentences that seemed thrown at me. It made me feel inhuman, and I wanted to remind the officer on duty that I was a visitor. But I was too frightened to say anything. I was put in a room where there were two doors, one on each end of the room. The door was locked after I entered, and I was left there alone. I ran back to the door. It was locked. I ran to the other door it was also locked. I was in a panic and wanted to leave. I felt alone, insignificant, and helpless. It was only a few minutes, according to my watch, but It seemed to me like the next day when another guard came to take me to the room where the student waited. I used my experience from those times to get the reader to feel what Olivia felt when she entered the prison for the first time.

Several people have commented on the relationship created between Olivia and the inmate and the hosts on the radio shows have asked me the same thing. How did I do that? In my research, prison ministry is about treating the inmate with dignity and respect so that the inmate can respect himself. Olivia treated the inmate with dignity and respect and eventually she received respect back. Olivia also saw that this prisoner sitting at the table opposite her, chained to the table, was a frightened man, who had committed serious violence (he was on death row), but who was also frightened and worried about where he would go after his death. She knew that the fact that he refused to pray, even after he requested it, that he needed someone to visit him, that he didn’t want to be alone. Olivia saw that in him as he tried to remain tough to the very end. She stayed with him and talked with him on his journey to his next station.

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