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Behind the Story

The second issue of Relief Journal is officially out of the chute. My short story, When Bill Left the Porch, iss2big.jpgis included in the mag. Forgive me if this sounds brash or self-serving, but it’s my biggest publication credit to date. Despite my recent rants about “Christian art” and the deficiencies of the CBA, there’s plenty of stuff being done by Christians that I can get behind. Relief Journal is one of them.

In that light, I found the brief blurb on Relief’s website rather interesting:

Some folks think we’re out to get the CBA and that we hate them. We don’t. As a matter of fact, it is necessary and good that CBA exists. We need writing, music, and material that is safe for the whole family and holds to the standards that CBA subscribes to. But we also need outlets for art that is more representative of a broader reality that a lot of us face every day.

I am blessed to be “representative of a broader reality” of Christian fiction.authorcollage2.jpg

There’s a lot behind the story of Bill, why he was fossilized on the porch and how he left it. It’s probably true of stories in general — there’s texts and subtexts, funny little details that nurtured and brought it to life. I’m fascinated by this creative process, this birthing of raw ideas, and the odd assemblage of facts and fiction that goes into stories. So many of them begin with nothing more than an image, a character, a scene, or a bizarre fact. That’s what got me thinking about Bill.

I can’t remember where I read it — a science journal, I think. The article was about the effects of hypothermia. The drastic change in body temp induces disorientation and delirium in its victims. The James Kim tragedy is one of the more well known recent cases of what’s called paradoxical undressing, wherein the individual sheds his clothing even though freezing to death. Anyway, the article cited the account of a lost hiker found drowned in a desert oasis. Investigators speculated exactly how the death occurred and concluded the dehydrated man was thrown into shock after his plunge into the pool. The image haunted me for the longest.

Which led to the very first line in that story: How in the hell do you drown in the desert? Well, leave it to Wild Bill to find out.

You can purchase a copy of Relief by clicking on the logo above. By doing so, you will embolden the “broader reality” of Christian authors everywhere.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Ame March 5, 2007, 4:51 AM

    mike – this is awesome 🙂

    i think this was the first piece of yours i read, and it drew me to you as an author. i guess if one grows up in a beautiful family and creates a beautiful family and marries someone from a beautiful family, this story would unsettle their foundation. but, as you know, none of the above is true for me, and i found the way you expertly articulated reality within a fiction context stir a miriad of emotions inside me.

    the familiar; the unfamiliar; what i wanted to see; what i wish i couldn’t see. how it could be so bizarre yet hold so much truth and the truth defines the bizarre – the part we don’t want to be real; yet we fear it exists; but we don’t really want to know because if we do know then we might be held accountable for that knowledge and then what do we do with that?! we certainly cannot “categorize” people so easily. we might have to be more forgiving. we might have to accept there is more to *this person’s story* than we want there to be. and, as always, an increase in knowledge is offset by a decrease in innocense.

    gosh, i’m rambling – i’ll have to read over this before i press enter 😉

    i also like your analysis of the cba and the need for it and the need for other medium to reach another realm of people – all real – who desperately need Christ.

  • Mike Duran March 5, 2007, 12:48 PM

    Thanks Ame! I grew up in a a dysfunctional family as well. My father was an alcoholic and it took us twenty-some years to just say the word. As a result, I spiraled into lotsa other junk. About twelve years before he died, my Dad called me over to the house, and in tears, confessed his problem. He admitted himself to an in-patient Care Unit and remained sober for the rest of his life. It was the most courageous thing I’d ever seen him do. He left the porch and — you guessed it — his name was Bill.

  • janet March 5, 2007, 12:51 PM

    congrats again on this, Mike. Oh, what a feeling. Good to see that this “orphan” has found a home. The relief guys encouraged me to “keep writing” when they rejected my story:) Speaking of stories that stay in your head, do I remember you praising the movie Taxi Driver? I rented and watched it several nights ago and can’t stop thinking about Travis. Incredible movie.

  • Mike Duran March 6, 2007, 2:13 PM

    Yeah, I love Taxi Driver. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay. He’s an interesting fella with a strict Calvinistic upbringing and a penchant for exploring the unraveling of the human psyche. Many of his films focus on an “anti-hero” — i.e., Travis Bickle’s “walking contradiction.” Like the Relief guys, I’d encourage you to “keep writing.” Thanks for your encouragement, Janet.

  • dayle March 7, 2007, 2:38 AM

    Congratulations Mike, gotta be a thrill. I wanted to order a copy, but then I realized that relief is not CBA approved. Just kidding. That’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are.

    Actually, I find their site a little user unfriendly when it comes to purchasing an issue, but I will persevere.

    -dayle

  • Ame March 7, 2007, 4:24 AM

    wow – what an incredible gift your dad gave you. thanks for sharing more of “the story behind the story”

    my parents still think i’m linked into some cult and they are normal. oh, well.

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