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Author Gives Magical Account of Ageless Wanderer
Irene Watson, Managing Editor of Reader Views talks with Richard L. Evans, author of “Life of the Eagle.”
Irene: Your book “The Life of an Eagle” is considered mysterious and magical, inviting readers to live the life of a person who cannot die, but must watch the generations pass before his eyes. Please tell us about the struggles your character has when they see things happening out of their control.
Richard: The main character (never mentioned in the book) first discovers that he has the “gift” of healing as a child. But every time he heals someone who is sick with a serious disease, he dies soon after the worst. Shouldn’t he use such a wonderful gift? As he grows older, he discovers that he remains young and strong while other men his age do not—he has stopped aging. Why? Later he comes to believe that God is keeping him alive for a reason. But why? Will he accomplish a certain mission, a miracle that God wants? And if he does what God wants, will God give him his greatest desire—his death? There is a terrible downside to immortality. He also has a mark, a scar that he made the first time he killed someone. Is it the mark of Cain? God put a mark on Cain so that no one could kill him, so that he would live on and on.
Irene: Although this story is fictional, is this story true?
Richard: The truth in this story is the history that the reader sees through the eyes of the main character. All history is correct within that framework. And there is a lot of history. My research required me to explore both: what a young man could learn about naval leadership in colonial days; about the Middle Passage slave trade including life on a slave ship; General Washington’s military campaigns during the American Revolution; frontier life in the backwoods of the East including the language and customs of the Shawnee people; the lives and explorations of Western mountain men in the fur trade; San Francisco is the days of the gold rush; how to take a ferry from San Francisco and sail around Cape Horn to the East Coast; the Civil War battles at New Bern, NC and at Antietam; medical school systems in the 1870s; early Marine Corps pilots in World War I; World War II and Korea (selected reservoirs); Viet Nam and the Hue massacre (of which few Americans have heard); and many passages from the Bible (The life of an Eagle is a spiritual journey and a great historical journey).
Irene: You have written two other books, however, “The Eagle’s Life” seems to be very different from what you have written before. Tell us what inspired you to write this book.
Richard: “The Life of an Eagle” should not have been a book. I had never written a book and had no intention of writing one. It should be an essay about modern American attitudes toward death and dying. But it was changed into a book of life and life. After it became clear that it was supposed to be a book I just relaxed and loved it.
Irene: Your great man is a metaphor for each of us. Please tell our readers how they can relate to this person.
Richard: I never learned to write. But I have a friend, a professor of creative writing, who told me after I wrote a book that his students always mention their characteristics because it helps the reader to identify with them. Well, I think I blew it. But we are all mortal. We don’t like to think about it but we know. So you might think that we cannot understand this immortal man, but we do. We recognize his greatest desire, to have what we have: the assurance of unlimited life. If you think death is scary, don’t even think about immortality.
Irene: Authors often put their own personality into one of the characters in the fiction they write. Is there any part of you that is written in “The Life of an Eagle”? If so, what aspects of your experience or perspective did you bring to the story?
Richard: My favorite person is not a bad person. He does some very bad things in his life but it is usually done out of sheer malice. Does this sound like anyone you know? It does for me.
Irene: You mentioned the phrase “you don’t want to live forever.” Many people cannot understand those words, some really want to live forever. Can you give us a little more insight into your thoughts?
Richard: Ok, let’s say hospital immortality is possible, which would be true—if not at this point it will be with us in less than ten years—I’ve done the research—trust me. So, you take a small pill and presto! you have it. There will be no more wrinkles, no more age spots, no more osteoporosis, no more decayed teeth, no more eyesight, hearing or breathing. You can remember things, too. But now you are ordinary. You are not like everyone else and that makes you look scary. You have to watch everyone you love die. All your old friends will be gone, too. And then you are new friends will follow them. You have to learn not to love, it can be very painful. Let’s imagine, however, that you are not alone, that there are others who have also decided to take “pills.” How will you invite your new team? What about children? I believe there will be no family groups as we think of them now – not unless you want to starve forever. And what will you do with this new, long life? Whatever it is, you have to be careful – break your back and you’ll be in a wheelchair forever or more. I’ll leave you with this quote from Susan Ertz that I use as a guide for my book: “Millions yearn for immortality who don’t know what to do with a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
Irene: There is a real message in every story. What message do you want readers to come away with from reading this book?
Richard: God is with us. God works through us. There are indeed angels in this world.
Irene : Thank you very much Richard. Is there anything else you would like your readers to know about you or your book?
Richard: No, I’m not thinking about anything else. If anyone wants to know more about me or my books they can go to my website at http://www.ncauthor.com/. And thanks for your thoughtful questions.
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