Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Would Following Yonder Star be more popular if the wise men were zombies or vampires?

I’m sorry that I even went there, but as I took a walk this morning, I started thinking about what really appeals to the general public. We have:
·         Romance: twisted, sick, degenerate stuff like 50 Shades. Not the heart-warming tales of Nicholas Sparks; that stuff is fine.
·         Vampires: I never understood how one could romanticize creatures that never die, live off of human blood, and are basically the spawn of Satan. Read Brian Lumley some time if you want a clear line between Good vs. Evil when it comes to vampires. Lumley’s creations are most definitely evil and there is not a shred of anything redeemable in them.
·         Zombies: Again, why do slow-moving, crumbling, decaying entities grab us so? Is it because of Night of the Living Dead? That un-escapable nightmare where the monster catches you, no matter how fast your run, or how slow it moves?
And these types of books and movies top the charts!
“Hey, writer-man, I thought you just wrote for fun. You said this story wrote itself, so why do you care what sells!?”
That voice--a blend of family, friends, and my own conscience--has a valid point. And it’s true. After Epiphany Mass in 2012, I began drafting the journey of the wise men, and started my research. Their snippet in Matthew always left me hungry for more; so when I discovered that there wasn’t a whole lot of other information about these men, I crafted my own adventure. Of course I was careful to stick to the research that had been done, and to Matthew, but the rest was my own extended prayer for mankind. So, in a sense, this was just a story in my head that I wanted to tell.
But... the reaction I have received when I do signings (at stores, churches, etc.) is a humbling one. People actually enjoyed the story. They found it unique that these men were described as real human beings, that the reader could join in on the journey. I realize that I only touched a hundredth of a percent of potential readers, but it gives me hope that others will like this.
What if I made these guys into zombies or vampires? Hey, now there’s shock value, there’s appeal. I smell talk shows and lawsuits and a slew of negative press, followed by massive sales. There ya go, that’s the ticket! If only I sell my soul, I can make millions!
I believe the question is thus answered. It is a sad time in our society when we put more value into football, entertainment, and the Kardashians, than we do in working for the greater good. Instead of digesting books and media that uplift people, call us to reflection and prayer, or inspire us to help those less fortunate, we read about zombies, vampires, and deviant behavior. The media moguls have appealed to our animal instincts: And it works.
So this stuff sells, and people buy it. I’m not really here to pass moral judgment, just observe the phenomenon. Heck, I’m a guy who likes to watch a shoot-‘em-up movie over a tear-jerker any day. But I’m also one of those strange men who has the entire Golden Girls collection on DVD, I’d rather read old literature than anything modern, and I don’t like zombies.
“What are you talking about?!”
I don't know... I'm sorry, but this is turning into very long, late-April rant. We still have snow on the ground in MN. I shouldn’t be terribly upset that Following Yonder Star hasn’t overtaken 50 shades; besides, I don’t want that kind of publicity anyway. I just feel a little bit sad that society has gone the way it has. Zombies, vampires, and gross sex are the top-sellers. And, if I wanted to appeal to my own animal nature, I can be pretty sure that, were the three kings vampires, it would be at #1 by Christmas.
Instead, however, readers will have to take comfort in the story that it is: A spiritual journey, a story of friendship, dedication, faith, and love. It’s a reminder of what Christmas truly means, and that the Christmas spirit is not limited to the Macy’s/Target/Wal-Mart-designated holiday time frame.