Continuing on in the exploration of my novels I wanted in this episode to talk about my book Our Daughter which is the first book in the Witch Gnostic Heresy series.
This story begins with the tragic turn of events for a young woman, events that drastically change the course of her life. It is a trilogy in which I hope to explore pain and the loss of loved ones, secret betrayal and the feeling of utter hopelessness in a fallen and grotesque world.
The main character, Katie, sparked an interest for me in gnosticism and witchcraft, not that I condone the practice of either, but I am an explorer of knowledge if nothing else and too often question things (especially the status quo). My questions sometime get me into trouble with the orthodox of the faith.
So, let’s just jump in and find out everything there is not know (without spoilers) of this strange story of witches and something like ghosts, and things even less like angels and the beginning of what I hope will eventually become a great and suspenseful story….
How I Got the Idea
To be honest, it was so long ago now, 2016, that I published the first installment to this trilogy series. I remember I had been doing some research on Gnosticism at that time, fascinated that there were actually Christian witches – those who profess some kind of faith in the Christian God while at the same time working in and dealing with magic, rituals, potions, spells, curses, etc. I’m not certain how anyone could justify the combination of these two diametrically opposed belief systems, but apparently it was quite popular, especially during the turn of the century in France.
Today everything is gnostic if it does not comport to perceived orthodox teaching of either the Catholic Church or the Protestant denominations. What I find humors is how often Catholic claim protestant teaching to be gnostic and vice versa. Similar to the Hundred Years’ War when the two Popes (Rome and France) claimed to be fighting with God’s favor, Christian against Christian.
This story, though, is not about Popes, but about witches, specifically gnostic witches of a particular variety. It is also about a young girl who loses just about everything except her life, and finds out quite quickly that her life also hangs in the balance.
How It Starts
Let me read an excerpt from the beginning of the story to kind of set the mood for you:
“Katie sat in the passenger seat of their Ford Taurus, consumed with the elongated puzzle of mixed up words and symbols in the puzzle book her mom had gotten for her at the grocery store.
There wasn’t enough light to see the letters clearly, especially the smaller print, but the letters that intertwined with the previous one or the latter were impossible puzzles anyway.
She grew frustrated.
The car shook as her mother closed the back hatch of the wagon. The overhead lamps went out and Katie had to lean forward in order to see what she was doing.
The driver’s side door opened and Terri Cadora slid in behind the wheel, grinning at the sight of her daughter engrossed in yet another puzzle.
“You could have helped me, you know,” Terri said, playfully bumping her daughter’s book to mess her up.
“Mom! This one is really good. See?”
Katie tipped the book in Terri’s direction.
“The letters run across the page and are combined. See? They join together with the others and…”
“I’m glad you like it.”
Terri laughed, as the cell phone in the center column began to vibrate wildly.
“You’re phone’s ringing, mom,” Katie said, not “bothering to look up from her book.
Terri snatched the phone out of the cup holder and hit the SEND button.
Terri listened as she fished her keys out of the front pocket of her jeans and pulled the door shut.
Katie looked up at her mother for a brief moment and then went back to working on her puzzle.
“No way,” Terri said, putting the keys in the ignition, bracing the phone between her ear and shoulder. “I can’t believe he said that. What did you do?”
“As the sand through the hour glass….” Katie said, shaking her head.
Terri playfully slapped her daughter’s knee with the back of her hand and smiled, then motioned with her finger at her to be quiet.
Katie snorted as she turned on the reading light above her.
She pointed to it and looked at her mother expectantly.
Terri just nodded.
She wanted to finish the puzzle before she got home and now with her mom on the phone it would be easy to do.
Only if she could see, though.
Terri shifted the Taurus into drive and grabbed the cell phone, holding it with one hand as she steered the car out of the parking space with the other.
Her mother chatted away on the phone as they headed back toward the Jewel Osco store, then turned left following the giant yellow arrows painted on the pavement, directing them toward the exit.
The parking lot was nearly empty.
Katie could see three vehicles parked on the side of the building, surely employees’ cars.
In the larger parking area out front, there were only a scatter of trucks and compacts.
It was late.
Middle of the week.
Not a peak time for shopping.
But it was their regular shopping event. Katie would get out of school and walk the three and a half blocks to the Endegar’s house, where she would have to endure the twin monsters, Shane and Alex Endegar, until her mother got off work and came to pick her up at six-thirty. Then they would drive across town, stopping at the grocery store before heading for home.
“Did you get the shift you wanted?” Terri asked, still talking with Angela as she flipped her blinker on and slowly pulled out onto West Addison, then crossed over into the inner lane.
Katie tried to ignore her mother.
“There were several letters in this puzzle she had never seen before.
They drove down Seventh, past the closed McDonalds and Taco Reyes.
Katie looked up as the traffic light at the intersection change to green, and she could feel the Taurus pick up speed as her mom hit the pedal a little too hard.
She went back to her puzzle.
Katie had no time to react, no moment in which to brace herself.
As she looked up again, all she saw were headlights…
The Bizarre Nature of Family Cults
It’s an odd thing, religion in the world, especially eclectic religion like folk theology or beliefs or familial religion passed down from generation to generation within a particular family.
We don’t see too much of this in western countries today. Too many have swallowed the hook of materialism and physicalism, evolution and secularism to keep up with the old religions and superstitions. With the new indoctrinated generations coming of age and blaming the previous generations for all their woes in life, it’s no wonder that the religion of their father’s and mother’s are being abandoned. In reality, millennials are leaving Christianity as a whole in droves.
But there was a time in France in the 1800’s that Gnosticism was all the rage (like anything but Christianity is today in America) and this propagated among families through family magics and ritual. How much of this was real (the magic I mean)? Probably about as much as is seen in the modern world. There are things spoken of in the Bible and throughout ancient history that depicts demons behind every door and goblins lurking just beyond the next bend. But we don’t experience these things today. The goblins just don’t show themselves (or don’t exist). Maybe they got themselves a gig somewhere else. Maybe our faith is so deteriorated and malformed from the beginning that our eyes have been seared from the supernatural world. Maybe the supernatural world is just imagination run wild, or was penned by shroom eating religious fanatics that had nothing to occupy their time through those dark winter months when the rains came and the snow fell.
There really is no way to tell fact from fiction through history. There’s was simply no clear demarcation like there is in our world.
So, as with most of my books, I started this one with a singular idea: a girl and loss. I usually it on my stories for awhile, play with them in my head. Form the characters, interact with them while I’m going about my mundane day. You see, I spend a greater part of my existence in a fantasy world. That is the benefit of being a writer, I get to justify make-believe. It was something I did constantly all throughout my childhood. A simply knack, an instinctual habit. Whenever I would be out in the woods as a kid, I would imagine monsters chasing me. I would create my own religions and built temples to my many gods. I would imagine scenes with characters and adventures and vast foreign lands. When out on the lake I would see the snags and rocks sticking out of the water as sea serpents hell bent on capsizing me.
Weaving these stories, creating these characters are a way I enjoy passing the time. I find them much more therapeutic than actual conversations with real people. Plus, they are wholly safe.
Katie, though, like many of my characters, turned out to be quite a surprise to me. I don’t want to go into too many details as to avoid spilling the story for you, but about half way through the manuscript I realized what I was going to do with her (or recognized what she was destined to do on her own) in the next two books of the series. Those have not yet been written, but I assure you, they are on their way.
There’s always something about discovering what characters will do that is surprising that makes it all worth it.
But, before I close out this episode, let me read one more excerpt. This is the moment Katie see her foster parents’ house for the first time:
““It’s older looking,” Katie said.
“I think so,” the casework nodded. “Expensive. Someone’s got some money.”
As they pulled up to the corner and stopped at the three way stop, Katie could see a man at the far corner of the property shoveling snow from the sidewalk.
“Oh, that must be Mr. Sorret,” the caseworker said.
“She turned right and drove slow, looking for a spot to pull off to the curb.
Katie watched the house as it loomed in front of her, set back, almost slumbering, it’s second story windows like vacant black eyes staring back at her. The yard had several shrubs planted near the house and around the perimeter, just inside the stone and rot iron fence.
Ms. Kessler jerked the steering wheel into a spot near the front of the house.
Katie thought she had seen something there at the front gate, where the iron fence was broken by two monolithic stone gate posts built up about four foot high, capped with a single lamp post on each.
But it wasn’t the stone posts that had caught her eye.
“Okay,” the caseworker said. “Here we go. Put your game face on.”
Katie tried to smile but could barely muster a semblance.
As she got out of the car and shut the door, Katie could now see it clearly, right in front of her. In between the stone posts hung an iron gate, and it was integrated “into that gate, but she was certain it was the same thing.
It was unmistakable.
In the gate was the spiral she had been dreaming about, reversing counterclockwise, spinning inward toward the center.
“Come on,” Ms. Kessler said, waving to Katie with her hand. “Don’t just stand there staring like that. You need to make a good first impression. Don’t want them to think your absent minded.”
The caseworker started down the sidewalk, which had been freshly shoveled of snow by the man at the corner of the property.
Katie followed behind, glancing back at the gate a few more times as she went.
The man had not noticed them pull up or get out of the car.
The pathway ran from the street to the house along the edge of his property, terminating at a detached garage, connected to the front porch by a covered brick patio.
“The caseworker waved her hand.
The man looked up and immediately stopped shoveling.
Katie hadn’t realized how much she disliked snow now, since the accident. It was cold, too cold, and she tried to stay in Ms. Kessler’s footsteps as she followed behind, hoping it would keep her from slipping and falling.
“Are you Mr. Sorret?”
The man sunk the blade of his shovel into the snow, took off his gloves.
He came down the drive, leaving the shovel behind.
“You must be Ms. Kessler.”
She shook his hand as they met at the corner.
“Yes, with Child and Family Services.”
The caseworker turned toward Katie.
“And this is Katie Cadora, the young girl I was telling you about on the phone.”
“Hello, Katie,” the man said. “It’s really nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Sorret,” Katie said, bashfully shaking his hand.
“No, please – ”
He waved his hand in front of him.
“Call me Calvin. Just Calvin.”
Katie tried to force a pleasant smile.
“It’s a – ”
The caseworker shot Katie a dirty look for not saying anything else.
“It’s a wonderful home you have here.”
“Oh, yes,” Calvin said, looking back at the house. “It was my grandfather’s. He bought it when they first arrived from France.”
“Oh, how lovely,” the caseworker said.
“So, Katie – ”
Calvin stuffed his work gloves into his jacket pocket.
“How are you doing?”
She just shrugged.
“Ms. Kessler told us you were recovering really quickly.”
“Yes, it’s getting better I guess.”
“I notice the brace on your leg,” Calvin said. “Did you get pins?”
“A plate,” Katie said.
Calvin pulled up his sleeve, showing his forearm.
“I have two pins right here, connecting these two bones with my wrist.”
“That’s terrible,” Ms. Kessler said.
“Got hit by a car right out here when I was a kid, maybe a little older than Katie is.”
The caseworker moved her large bag to her other shoulder.
“Guess we have something in common,” Calvin said.
Katie didn’t know what to say, just smiled until her face hurt.
“How about we head inside,” Calvin said. “It’s freezing out here.”
“That sounds wonderful,” Ms. Kessler said.
Calvin started up the drive, the caseworker walking beside him. Katie followed them, trying to avoid the “snow as much as possible, stepping into the large footprints Calvin left behind.
A concrete sidewalk ran around the garage, connecting to the brick patio that was decorated with potted shrubs and grasses, an elaborate barbecue in the corner and an iron patio table and chairs that matched the fencing.
Katie glanced back over at the gate, but they were too far from it for her to make out any part of the spiral.
Maybe she had been seeing things?
She tried to convince herself of it, but couldn’t shake the unsettled feeling she had in her gut as they took the steps to the wrap around porch.
“Please, come in,” Calvin said, as he opened the front door and started taking off his jacket.
The caseworker walked in and Katie glanced back again at the front gate, then at Calvin, who was standing in the doorway smiling at her.
She paused for a moment, reluctant, then bit her lower lip and walked into the Sorret house.
So, that’s about it for this episode on an exploration of my novel, Our Daughter, the first book in the Witch Gnostic Heresy trilogy. I hope you liked the background and a sneak peak into some of the reasons why I wrote this story, and a look into my writing process and the main character, Katie.
I will be doing these review episodes for each of my books and also for stories I hope to write in the futures o stay tuned as more episodes are leased each Monday.
Since there were no questions submitted this week that is the end of this episode.
If you have any questions about the podcast or one of my books or if you have a Bible or theology or philosophy question you would like to ask me, or just want to leave me a comment you can do so by emailing me at email@example.com or your can leave a comment on the show notes post on the website at isaachunterthewriter.com. If you want to support this podcast, please consider buying one or more of my novels. Just head over to the website and you can find them all listed there on the front page with excerpts and links to where they can be purchased.
Until the next time we meet together…..be well.
Please consider supporting this podcast by purchasing one of my books on Amazon or from my website at isaachunterthewriter.com. Let me read you an excerpt from one of my novels.
Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – ”
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to er on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
Buy my book Our Daughter and begin the adventure of a lifetime, as you uncover the mysteries behind Katie Cadora’s new life after the horrible accident that stole her mother away from her. Will she find sure footing again? Will the pain ever stop? Will she discover the secrets her new foster family are keeping from her? Is the boy’s question right? Is Katie Cadora actually dead?
Click here and grab your copy today and jump into this Witch Gnostic Heresy trilogy with both feet!
But, trust me when I tell you, there are deceivers in our midsts! Get started in this bone chilling suspense novel right away and find out why….sometimes….you’re just better off DEAD!