History and Reading Arts for Ages Eleven to Fifteen (Faire défiler vers le bas pour la version française)

      The Award-WinningSummer of the Bear Part I.  The Purpose or Purposes of the Book             The Summer of the Bear targets the 8th-grade social studies curriculum, but is appropriate for ages 11-15, for social studies, reading arts, … Continue reading

The Journals of Kevin Murphy III: The Problems Posed for a History Teacher, Trying to Teach History with Historical Novels.

I. English Version (Faire défiler vers le bas pour la version française). I had decided to deliver my historical lessons, using historical novels. But, once I had finished the first draft, I realized that history has a lot of holes … Continue reading

The Journals of Kevin Murphy

 I. English Version (Faire défiler vers le bas pour la version française).

The Journals of Kevin Murphy, 1: The Plots

 

I have just uploaded an adventure series for young adults to Amazon: The Journals of Kevin Murphy. The first volume, The Summer of the Bear, is about Kevin’s 14th summer, which he spends in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern, lower Michigan. Kevin, who is the narrator of the three books in the series, learns the value of being part of a team. He even comes to appreciate his own worth as a writer, because he is the one who writes down the adventure, including the details of Jean-Baptiste’s thick Canadian accent.  Without Kevin, no one would ever know what really happened.

The cover features the mother bear and her cubs alongside the river.

The cover features the mother bear and her cubs alongside the river.

Kevin and his best friend, Brock Tomlinson, spend two boring weeks with Brock’s dad, in a cabin on the river. Finally, Mr. Tomlinson has to go back to work. He leaves the two boys in the care of Mrs. Vaillant. But, at the moment of his departure, Jean-Baptiste’s canoe is quietly landing.

Jean-Baptiste, who would like to be a canoe man (voyageur), talks the two boys into going down the river with him, where they find adventures they will never forget. It is in the forest that they meet Mickie Mamansinam, a young Anishinaabe (Ojibwe Indian), who is looking for a bad bearwalker (a medicine man gone bad). Jean-Baptiste decides to help Mickie, thus leading the boys into a terrifying misadventure.

The Michigan State History Seal of Approval

The Michigan State History Seal of Approval

In the second volume, Son of Fireheart, Kevin meets the Esselen-Mexican boy, Esteban Sanchez, on a beach in Santa Cruz, where he is spending the summer with his aunt and his little sister, Katie. Esteban is homeless. His only contact with literature of any kind has been with the Fireheart section of the Spider-Man comic book. The two boys become friends, but Kevin’s chivalry, when he saves a teen from a group of local gang bangers at the beach, culminates in a raging forest fire in the Santa Lucía mountains.

A mountain lion in the Santa Lucia Mountains

A mountain lion in the Santa Lucia Mountains

At its center, the narrative turns on the transformation of Esteban from an abused, homeless illiterate to a college medical student, who eventually becomes a viable member of the tribe from which he has been estranged. It is Kevin’s aunt, who helps Esteban to surmount an extremely difficult childhood. If she succeeds, it is because she introduces the boy to members of his tribe, who know how to create a prosperous and useful life for him.

The cover from Eagle from the Dawn, depicting Tipyahlanah Kaupu, fighting the white stallion.

The cover from Eagle from the Dawn, depicting Tipyahlanah Kaupu, fighting the white stallion.

In the third volume, Eagle from the Dawn, Kevin has just received his diploma from Dearborn High in Michigan. Kevin goes to the Winddancer Ranch in Montana, which belongs to his uncle Matt. There, he renews his friendship with Peter Taksoukt, the son of Matt’s partner on the ranch. The boys decide to cross the Rockies together with Peter’s little sister. Kevin brings his beloved Mustang, Tipyahlanah Kaupau, nimipuutimpt  (the language of the Nez Perces) for ‘Eagle from the Dawn.’ The horse escapes, and Kevin is forced to acquire the essential skill of letting go. He learns to do this in a Nez Perce sweat house.  What he has discovered, is the secret to happiness in any relationship, but especially the secret to a love relationship. It is precisely at this moment that he meets the love of his life at a powwow in Idaho. And there is a video of me reading from this scene on my author’s page.

 

 

 

 

 

II. La Version Française

Les Journaux de Kevin Murphy,  1:  Les Trames

 

Je viens de télécharger une série d’aventures pour les jeunes à Amazon.fr: Les Journaux de Kevin Murphy, écrits en anglais. Dans le premier volume, L’été de l’ours (Summer of the Bear), il s’agit du 14e été de Kevin, passé dans la forêt au pays de la fleuve Pigeon au nord du Michigan, un des états américains. Kevin, qui raconte les récits dans ces trois livres, apprend la valeur de travailler dans une équippe, et il arrive même à apprécier sa propre valeur en tant qu’écrivain, car c’est lui qui se souvient de tous les détails de l’aventure, même des détails de l’accent de leur guide, Jean-Baptiste Vaillant, jeune Canadien français, qui ne parle que rarement l’anglais.

Kevin et son meilleur ami, Brock Tomlinson, passent deux semaines ennuyeuses auprès du père de Brock, dans une cabane qui donne sur la rivière. Enfin, M. Tomlinson doit reprendre son travail à Détroit. Il laisse les deux garcons aux soins de la voisine, Mme Vaillant. Mais au moment de son départ, le canoë de Jean-Baptiste arrive silencieusement. Jean-Baptiste, qui voudrait être voyageur, comme son arrière arrière grand-père, invite aux garçons à voyager avec lui sur la rivière, où ils trouveront des aventures qu’ils n’oublieront jamais! C’est dans la forêt que les trois voyageurs font la connaissance de Mickie Mamansinam, un jeune Anishinaabe (une tribu amérindienne du Michigan et du Canada), qui cherche un mauvais Bearwalker (un médecin amérindien qui utilize son savoir pour le mal) . Jean-Baptiste décide d’aider Mickie, emmenant ainsi les deux autres garcons dans une mésaventure effrayante.

Dans le deuxième volume, Fils de Coeur en Feu (Son of Fireheart), Kevin fait la connaissance d’un garçon Esselen-Méxicain, Esteban Sanchez, sur la plage à Santa Cruz, où il passe l’été avec sa tante et sa petite soeur, Katie. Esteban est un sans-abri. Sa seule connaissance littéraire c’est la section “Coeur en Feu” de Spider-Man (magazine de bandes dessinées bien connu). Les deuz garcons deviennent amis, mais la courtoisie de Kevin, lorsqu’il sauve une jeune fille d’une bande de délinquents à la plage, mène à une incendie sinistre dans les montagnes de Santa Lucía. Le centre du récit tourne autour d’Esteban, qui se transforme d’un sans-abri illettré et abusé à un étudiant de médecine à l’université, qui devient membre viable de sa tribu. C’est la tante de Kevin qui aide à Esteban à surmonter une jeunesse extrêmement difficile. Elle réussit précisément parce qu’elle présente le garçon aux membres de sa tribu, qui savent créer pour lui une vie utile et prospère.

Dans le volume trois, L’aigle de l’aube (Eagle from the Dawn), il s’agit du 17e été de Kevin, juste après avoir reçu son diplôme du lycée de Dearborn au Michigan. Kevin va à Montana, à la ranche Winddancer, qui appartient à son oncle Matt. Là il renouvelle son amitié avec Peter Taksoukt, fils du partenaire de Matt. Les deux jeunes décident de traverser les montagnes ensemble, avec la petite soeur de Peter. Kevin emmène son Mustang, bien aimé, Tipyahlanah Kaupau (nimipuutimpt, ou la langue Nez Perce, pour ‘l’aigle de l’aube’). Le cheval s’évade et Kevin doit aquérir le compétence essentiel de lâcher prise. Il apprend à faire ceci dans une sauna (sweathouse) Nez Percée.  Il a enfin compris le secret essentiel du bonheur  dans n’importe quel lien, surtout dans l’amour. C’est précisément à ce moment-ci qu’il rencontre l’amour de sa vie à un powwow en Idaho. Et il y a une lecture (en anglais) de cette scène cruciale sur ma page d’auteur à Amazon.

Wolf Man

 

Blog 4, Wolf Man

“Wolf Man” was written a little earlier than the “Peach Tree.”  Like “Peach Tree,” the story has it’s origins in the Lais of Marie de France.

 

The Lais were short poetic hero tales in octosyllabic rhymed couplets. Marie’s intention was to tell the true story of a knight, who turned into a werewolf for three days out of every week and wandered the forest as a beast. Like my hero, the wife wheedles the truth out of the husband, even though he knows he would be better off not telling her.  However, whereas in my story, Lyudka is already involved with Kirill, and simply looking for an excuse to get rid of Oleg, in Marie’s tale, the wife has always been deeply in love with her husband. The revelation of his secret so frightens her that she accepts the love of a suitor, who has been courting her for a very long time. It is this suitor, who steals the husband’s clothes and thus sentences him to a life as a beast. The couple marries, and the beast mourns. One day, the King runs across the werewolf (Bisclavret) and chases it all over the forest. In the end, the werewolf comes to the King’s stirrup and kisses his leg and foot. The King is so impressed with his courtesy that he lets the werewolf go. It follows him to court, where it is accepted and eventually beloved by all.

 

At length, the King calls all his barons to court, among whom, the Werewolf’s wife and her second husband.  Bisclavret tries to attack the woman the moment he sees her, but the King holds him back with a stick. People remark that the beast must have a reason for wanting to attack her. It is not until the lady’s second visit to the court that Bisclavret bites off her nose. A wise man advises the King to torture her, and, after much discomfort, she admits to having had her second husband steal Bisclavret’s clothes.  The couple is banished from court and country; Bisclavret is reinstated. The King finds him sleeping in his bed, after he has become a man again. The sovereign embraces him and gives him back his land.

 

I kept many of the narrative details of my medieval source. Indeed, both are apologues: Marie tells us a true story about an exemplary beast and a foolish woman. The moral is weak because the purpose of her tale is to relate an interesting truth in the romantic mode.

 

L’aventure k’avez oïe

(The adventure that you have [just] heard)

Veraie fu, n’en dutez mie.

(Was true, of this have not doubt,)

De Bisclavret fu fez li lais

(The Lay was made [written] about Bisclavret [Normand for “werewolf”])

Pur remembrance a tuz dis mais.

(It has been told so it would be remembered for ever after)

 

My story is also an exemplum, but very much tongue in cheek: 

 

The moral to this tale is that, while overly inquisitive wives deserve to have their noses bitten off, some husbands can be quite savage and are better left in the forest. Moreover, since neither husbands nor wives are likely to change their bad habits, it behooves them to take each other as they are, or not at all.

 

As can be seen by the closing moral lesson, my tale, although also an apologue, is written in the satiric mode, for very different purposes than Marie’s tale.  And so, we can see from just this bit, that I have actually “made it new” in the medieval sense of the word. Twelfth and thirteenth-century writers took an existing narrative and turned it on it’s ear in order to come up with a brand new work. And, if you read the story, you will see that that is precisely what I have done. While there are a limited number of plots in the world, the possibilities in the handling of each of these plots is infinite.  If this kind of thing interests you, I would be happy to talk about it some more in later blogs.

 

For the moment, let me just say that I wrote this after spending six weeks in China and Russia, which is why the tale is set in Russia rather than in France. My favorite teacher used to say, “Ah, la belle poésie des noms!”‘Oh, the beautiful poetry of names!’ meaning that names, in and of themselves, held volumes of beauty and meaning.  I think that this story was perhaps the very first time I realized what he meant. The beauty of the Siberian forest and Lake Baikal, which I have seen with my own eyes, contrast with the ugliness of the characters, who are funny because their baseness is too rude for literary narrative. Lyudka was, for me, the perfect name for a greedy peasant woman; Oleg was certainly a poor, clumsy bear, caught in his wife’s greedy grasp through his readiness to believe in the romantic pipe dream she offers. And the soldier’s name, Kirill  suggested the oily feel of the adventurer to me.

The Peach Tree

I must have written “The Peach Tree” around 1987, after a year or so of thinking about how to write a short story. Still heavily influenced by medieval literature, especially by the twelfth-century narrative poetess, Marie de France, I had decided to “rework” some of her narratives as practice. But, by the time I got to “The Peach Tree,” I was ready to strike out on my own.

 

The story is based on Marie de France’s “Equitan,” to be sure, but it is a very different tale from Marie’s.  For the poetess, her story was an exemplum of what happens when we do wrong to others. It comes back to us:

 

                                Ici purreit ensample prendre

                                Tels purcace le mal d’autrui

                                Dunt tuz le mals revert sur lui.

 

To be sure, my King, like Equitan, is overly fond of wenches and none too careful about guarding his friendship with his favorite vassal, the Seneschal. However, Equitan comes across as a weak, immoral, smart ass, whereas my King is a sociopath, who sees other people as useful, or not. Equitan’s excuse for seducing the young woman is that she’d have to take a lover anyway, to keep up her “curteisie” (the whole business of being a magnet for the young men at court because you are possibly beautiful, but more probably, the only woman at court). The Seneschal, he reasons, couldn’t hold her anyway, so he shouldn’t mind so much that he, Equitan takes her for his lover:

 

                                Si bele dame tant mar fust

                `              S’ele n’amast e dru n’eust!

                                Que devendreit sa curteisie,

                                S’ele n’amast de druerie?

                                Suz ciel n’ad humme, s’el l’amast,

                                Ki durement n’en amendast.

                                Li seneschals, si l’ot cunter,

                                Ne l’en deit mie trop peser:

                                Suls ne la peot il pas tenir!

 

When the young woman worries about what will become of her, he tells her she’s bargaining with him like a bourgeois:

 

                                “Dame, merci! Nel dites mes!

                                Cil ne sunt mie fin curteis,

                                Ainz est bargaine de burgeis, . . .

 

By contrast, my King is courtly (i.e., courteous, well-manered, charming, etc. on the surface, except when he doesn’t get his own way, in which case he falls upon the floor in a temper tantrum). He also has to win at everything, which is why he likes his poor Seneshal so much-he can always best him. When confronted with the beauty of his vassal’s young wife, he must have her! Selfish and immature, he doesn’t even think things through. He sends her husband off to war so he can enjoy the woman. At no time is he overly concerned about whether the man lives or dies! He is a full-blown sociopath in medieval garb, if you will.

 

In both Marie’s tale and mine, it is the woman’s idea to get rid of the husband.  In “Equitan”, the king goes along with the plan with the same devil-may-care amorality he displays from the very beginning. In my story, the King has forgotten how much he liked his vassa,l because he has been sleeping with the guy’s wife for two years. He helps her to kill the husband, but in a way that removes him from the reality of the murder.  It is her idea to poison the husband’s favorite fruit tree by feeding a magician’s potion to the roots. In “Equitan,” the wife heats up a bath tub, to be used by the husband after he has been bled. Equitan is supposed to dive into the tub with the cold water, whereas the unwitting husband will bleed out in the hot water. Of course, things backfire. The husband catches the wife in bed with Equitan, and Equitan dives into the hot bath by mistake. With a truly medieval flourish, the husband takes the wife, turns her upside down, and plunges her into the hot tub, head first, with her lover!

 

In “The Peach Tree,” the priest, Baudoin, warns the husband, returning from war, of the King’s treachery and the couples’ plan to murder him. The husband has a cake made out of peaches to honor the lovers. He has the cake decorated with the story of Mars and Venus, caught in the nets of Venus’ horrible husband, Vulcan. The King knows the story, and it makes him very uncomfortable. Unlike the Seneschal in “Equitan,” the husband in “The Peach Tree” is a brutish lover, probably not unlike Vulcan.  So the wife’s treachery has some foundation in my story, whereas  it is completely gratuitous in Marie’s tale. My “exemplum” is about being waylaid on one’s true path through life by appearances.

 

Because I was still learning, I was courageous enough to alter the original story completely, but the poisoning of the peach tree came to me from the I Claudius, where poor Augustus trusts in his figs because he figures they are the only thing in the house that are safe to eat. Still, this narrative of mine was original enough to publish, and so I did, with the understanding that it was a step on the way in learning to produce original works.

The Early Stories

My father died in 1990, close to my own birthday.  Afterwards,  I felt my father’s presence. He was there, watching and worrying over me, and he never left until I could do without him. Even now, I will never forget the precious things that he taught me, and, without which, my life would be meaningless.

 

I had already begun my writing career. It must have been toward 1991. I think I was reading the Icelandic Sagas. I had to write a story for the Southhill Gazette, and, for once, I decided to write something completely on my own. This very early piece of mine is not very good, but it is interesting, from the point of view of seeing how I put things together: the mood of the Sagas, my own mood, my personal experience of loss, and the runes. I was writing for a family newspaper, and I was thinking of my own childhood, when I was so easily able to see into other worlds, before anyone told me that I wasn’t supposed to be able to do that.

 

If nothing else, the piece showed promise – more promise than my very first story, at age six, about a bird, or the God-awful tale my Princeton dissertation advisor, Alfred Foulet, coaxed me into letting him read. He was such a nice man, and such a patient teacher! He told me I had talent, but the story was so embarrassingly awful that I destroyed it. Nevertheless, Alfred’s encouragement has never left me, and I will always be grateful to him. He was my second father. He was in his 80s when he died in 1975.

 

Here is the story, as I wrote it, in the early 1990s. It’s a little embarrassing, but the things that are wrong with it recall Gustave Flaubert’s Mémoires d’un Fou, which I’m very glad we were made to read at school, because, like my advisor’s encouragement, Flaubert’s early, over weaning sentimentality gave me hope. Of course, I was twice Flaubert’s age, when I wrote “Healing,” but then, I have always been a late bloomer.

 

 

Healing

By Leigh A. Arrathoon, ©2013

 

          Feathery snowflakes danced on the wind, illuminating the night. The boy, Bork, stared out at the snow, whirling wildly, constantly shifting direction. Ever since morning, he had sat in the doorway of the farmstead, looking out, unable to move. Sometimes he felt a terrible gnawing pain in his gut, which spread upwards until, overwhelmed with sadness, he would begin to sob uncontrollably, shameful, hot tears bathing his cheeks.

          It seemed to Bork that the world was empty, except for his small sister, Thorfinna, who didn’t count for much because she was a girl. His father, Thorvald, and elder brother, Ulf, had left him there, in charge, while they went to visit kinsmen, who had summoned them. That had been yesterday.

          He remembered when his mother, Ragnhild, had left him to gather herbs. He had waited, like this, in the doorway, for two days. Finally, when he could no longer stand the waiting, he had gone out to the home meadow to look for her. There he had found her beneath the Magician’s tree, her alabaster skin torn and stained with blood. He shuddered, and once again, sobs racked his small frame.

          He did now what he had done for so many months since Ragnhild had left him. Beside him, on the wooden floor, lay a leather pouch, filled with smooth stones. Each stone had a letter carved into it. He reached inside and felt the stones lovingly. By now, he could guess which letters were etched into each of them by the feel of them. Shutting his eyes tightly, and concentrating very hard, Bork uttered the question he had put to the runes every day for six months.

          Will Ragnhild come to me again soon? Will Ragnhild come to me again soon?

          Drawing out the first of five stones, he laid it vertically on the floor next to him. It was the letter for Gebo, which stands for partnership. The position of it in the rune spread indicated the outlook for his question.  Trying not to feel the letter on it, he drew another stone from the leather pouch and laid it just under the first. This stone was Nauthis, which calls for pain, necessity, and constraint. Its position in the spread showed him the challenge he must face.  So the partnership he sought was at hand, though he was warned not to collapse himself into it, that he would be called upon to exercise great moderation, which is a tall order for a little boy.

          The third letter represented his present condition. It was the letter Isa, which stands for the frozen world, awaiting a spring thaw.

          Below Isa fell the rune for what he must give up, Laguz, which signifies the lunar side of human nature, the immersion in the flow of feeling toward the mother, the womb’s security.

          When Bork saw what he must renounce, he began to tremble. He was afraid to draw the fifth and final rune from the pouch, because he knew that this reading was the most accurate one he had ever done, and he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know the answer to his question.

          Feeling the stones which remained in the pouch very carefully, his hand fell on Hagalaz, the stone of disruption. No! He would not draw Hagalaz. He refused!

          Again he felt the stones inside the pouch, feverishly turning them over and over again, until, at last, he found Fehu, the stone of fulfillment and love. He placed Fehu in the fifth position of the rune spread and sat back, relieved.

          No sooner had the fever of his anxiety subsided, than he realized that his new sense of peace was an illusion. He had cheated. It didn’t count because he had forced the outcome. How many times had the Magician explained to him that the runes would not speak the truth to him if he made them lie. He would not see Ragnhild again. He knew that. She would have come to him by now otherwise.

          The child Thorfinna began to wail for her goat’s milk. He must go to the goat shed to fetch it for her. Shivering beneath his sheepskin, Bork went out into the blackness. Near the shed, he paused to gaze up at the swirling vortex of lacy shapes.

          All at once, one of these shapes began to alter itself before his eyes, shimmering and growing until, at last, he thought he saw a face – a woman’s face. He stared hard into the blackness. His heart pounded. It was Ragnhild. Her long hair of spun gold shone in the dark, alight now with the warmth of her smile. He reached out to her, longing to bury himself in her breast as he had always done, for her embrace was healing to him. But, whereas before there had been substance and warmth, now there was nothing but the emptiness of the night.

          “Mama!” He sobbed.

          “I am here, Bork. You must not cry.”

          “I want to touch you,” he pleaded.

          “This is not possible, I’m afraid,” she said softly. “But it is given to us to now to talk.”

          “Where did you go? I have missed you so. And now Papa and Ulf have gone away too and left me along with the child, Thorfinna. What am I to do? Oh what am I to do?”

          “You are a big boy now. You must take care of yourself. The very first thing you must do is to say every day to yourself, I am strong and capable, and I can easily take care of myself. You must say this every day fifty times a day until spring comes. Will you do this for me?”

          “Yes,” he answered, half-heartedly. “But what if Papa and Ulf do not come back either? Then what shall I do?”

          “You must ask yourself what the worst thing is that can happen to you.”

          “The worst thing is that Papa and Ulf may be eaten by wolves, as you were, and then Thorfinna and I might starve here alone.”

          “Although I am certain that Papa and Ulf are strong enough and clever enough to protect themselves, still it would certainly be terrible if they were eaten by wolves, wouldn’t it?”

          “Yes!” He cried.

          “But you can’t do anything about that, can you?”

          “No,” Bork replied, dejectedly.

          “So, there is really no point in worrying about something over which you have no control, is there?”

          “No, I suppose there isn’t,” he admitted.

          “But it might be a good idea to figure out what you could do to keep you and little Thorfinna from starving, mightn’t it?”

          “Yes, I guess it might.”

          “Well, what could you do?” She asked him.

          Bork thought for a long while, and then he said,

          “I could save the goat for milk and kill the sheep for meat and its hide. I guess, if we eat the sheep, we do have enough food to last until spring, with the dried fish, honey, salt, and flour that is already put away in the larder. When spring comes, I can fish and hunt to stock the larder again.”

          “That is very good, Bork. But you’ll need tools to fish and hunt.”

          “I could make them now, when there is nothing else to do!” The child cried.

          “Yes! You see? So it seems you don’t need me or Papa or Ulf to survive. You do not need to cry or to ask the runes when I will return, because, when you tell yourself that you are strong and when you use your mind to take care of yourself, you will no longer need anyone. And, when your mind is occupied with the business of living, you will have no time to long for those things which are past and can no longer be.”

          “I’m afraid, Mama,” he said. “If I do as you say, you will leave me, and I will never see you again. Even the pain which keeps you ever in my heart is better than that!”

          “This winter is a season to become empty. In time, you will know that I have never left you – that I will always be with you. My blood courses through your veins, many of your thoughts are also mine; you are patterned after me.”

          “But I cannot bear not to see your warm smile, smell your sweet skin, or to be held by you! It is so lonely since you are gone. It is like dying. The pain of this will never leave me.”

          “You are right, Bork. This is a pain you must endure, but it will eventually become joy. There will never be another to take my place. Your loss is great, and yet, do not despair. For, in the spring, you will hear my voice in the brook which tumbles down the mountainside, see my smile in the sunlight on the leaves, smell my skin in the fresh, damp odor of the woods, and feel my caress on the soft, spring winds. This must be your consolation, for I must go now. Do not forget. I will be with you always, just not in the way that I was in the past.”

          All winter long, he struggled against the cold and his hunger, and all winter long, his pain pierced his heart. But he no longer asked the runes when she would return, and he did not forget her words.

          In the spring, when the world is born afresh, he went out into the home meadow, where he had found her the year before, mangled by wolves. And there, beneath the Magician’s tree, he felt her warmth, and he knew at last that he would never be without her. Then he heard the crystal waters of the brook, tumbling exuberantly over the rocks in its path, and he threw back his head and laughed for joy.

 

Megan and Megara

Today I uploaded onto Amazon the first of many stories, Megan and Megara. All of my stories and novels are about life lessons in general. This one represents an important facet of the kind of thing I write: the search for a fulfilling love partnership. Megan and Megara are a pair of star-crossed lovers. Megara, the son of the Sun, is warm and vibrant during the daytime, when the sun shines brightly in the heavens; Megan is cold, and only ventures out when the moon begins to shine, being lit up by the sun from afar. Whereas Megara should be illuminating Megan with his gentle, enabling light, he allows her to dominate him in very negative ways from the beginning of the relationship so that it becomes what we moderns would term “dysfunctional.” In other words, he applies only the warmth of the sun, without moral strength, so that he becomes a victim in the relationship. Instead of developing the motherly qualities of her lunar nature, Megan exhibits the harsher traits of the huntress. As the Moon points out to her daughter, she has remained a child in a woman’s body.

The theme of marriage runs throughout much of my work because it is so central to the successful survival of our species. It seems to me to be such a difficult thing to negotiate. So many of us marry unhappily, and yet, some marriages are wonderful. I will be publishing a book I finished about two years ago, Indian Summer, where the problem is how to choose the best mate and what seems to make the best kind of marriage.

I’d love to hear your ideas about what makes a good marriage and why so many people fail so miserably at a state toward which most of us look forward as young adults.