Are you familiar with the following poem? How does it make you feel?
Even though Rewriting Adam is a novel, I wanted to incorporate my love of poetry into the book. Therefore, each chapter begins with my own work of poetry that foreshadows events in the chapter. Chapter Eleven's poem follows the rhyme scheme, meter, and theme of "The Raven." Why you ask?
As I've mentioned before, Ethan, my protagonist, decides to join the archaeologist Janus on a survey trip to an area in Myanmar. But that kind of survey is impossible without a local guide. Janus chooses a young man from the Khimsha* minority language group who knows the area well.
Every culture has its own worldview, beliefs, and legends. Khimsha is no different. This is the language group my husband and I have been working in for the last 15 years. I wanted to share some of their stories with the world through my novel.
In chapter 11, Ethan discovers what the Khimsha believe about ghosts. The ghost stories told in this chapter are either true first-account happenings, or are true stories told by trusted Khimsha sources. My husband gathered these stories himself as part of his cultural study. Knowing these stories existed, I couldn’t help but incorporate them into my novel. It seemed the perfect way to include my interest in the strange and weird and my love for speculative fiction.
Though my poem is only the length of one stanza of Poe’s poem, I tried to write so that the reader would become uncomfortable—to shift uneasily in their chair, as if something scary was about to happen. I knew I could never reach Poe’s standard with just one stanza, but I wanted it to be just enough to prepare the reader for what was to come.
Here is my poem:
Ethan learns that in the Khimsha culture, ghosts are a very real and trepid thing. They are feared because they have the power to maim and kill. They are not the topic of stories told around a campfire late at night for a bit of fun. Ethan doesn't know how to respond to such information. How would you respond?
Admittedly, my poem was fun to write. Bottom line, though, is this: The real story behind the story will always be what the work of Jesus has done for the Khimsha people--how God has redeemed them and given them the divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5). The believers are no longer afraid of ghosts or the shaman or any evil spirits. In Jesus, they have the freedom to share their ghost stories without fear. And that, dear friends, is Truth—and the most beautiful story of all.