Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An Essay on Kalek from Toch Island Chronicles and Why. He. Rocks.

I've tried to draw Kalek, to no avail.
This is the closest image I've ever found, too.
His hair is really curly, though,
so even this is not right, but gives ya an idea.
(And of course Kalek has pointy ears.)
I've never posted something like this before. When I start ruminating about my characters and where they come from and what drives them, I tend to transform it all into a short story. (Or as is the case for one character in particular, a long story that may actually end up a prequel to Toch Island some day....)

But in this case, I've already written a short story about Kalek, my Elven rocker who first makes his appearance in Finding Angel. If you haven't read the book (or maybe just need a refresher), you can go to Grace Bridges' blog and read the excerpt from the very first scene I wrote about Kalek. Grace basically told me that this scene is what sold her on my manuscript :).

First, let me backtrack and tell you what spawned this post, although it's actually kinda hard to put my finger on something particular. More like little things said here and there, in sermons at church, in an email from an author whose work I judged in a contest last year, arguments online (and closer to home) about what music ministry in church ought to be, and in some other places that I can't fully remember right now but feel like bits of dreams. ...

All of it points toward one question: What is worship?

My novels are not overtly Christian, but Kalek is probably the biggest representation of faith in the series. He's a rocker--long hair and tattoos, rebellious and passionate, the kind of guy who experiences the highest highs and the lowest lows and has to vent all of it through his music. But Kalek's Talent takes that to another level. He's able to tap into nature and do what I call "sing the songs of the stars."

Kalek's Talent was inspired by this Bible verse:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech ;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
(Psalm 19: 1-4, NIV)
I'm also gonna come clean about something here that no one--I mean no one--has ever seemed to notice about the passage where Kalek uses his Talent in Finding Angel....I stole it all from the book of Job. Seriously, start at Job 38:39 and just read, you'll see.

The way those things are connected is the heart of my post here. Music is often seen as the definition of worship. We call the music leaders at church "worship leaders" and we call that part of the service the "worship" part and it seems only in private circles do those of us come out and say that they worship in ways other than singing. It is my personal belief that people can worship through any creative outlet--be it writing or drawing or sculpting or landscaping or architecture....anything that allows you to express yourself to God. I also think more ordinary acts can be just as worshipful, such as running or caring for pets, or, again, anything that allows you to express yourself to God.

For me, worship can be writing and drawing, but the truth is, the real connection, the place where I find the most awe for God is science. Looking out into space at the stars, yes, but even more so looking in at the creation here on earth. Animals and their intricate and perfectly balanced biological systems. The way a bird makes its nest, or a spider weaves its web. The incredible variety of beetles in mind-boggling designs and made with metallic exoskeletons. The egg of an insect.

The above photo is of an insect egg from a gallery
produced by 
National Geographic Magazine
that accompanies an essay written by 
Rob Dunn,
an assistant professor of biology at NC State.
When I look at things like that in the world, I can't help but find my faith bolstered. I can't help but feel my doubts drop away. I can't help but want to express my love and awe for the One who designed all this.

So, Kalek is my representation of that. I mean, yes, you see it elsewhere in the book of course, with all the science stuff going on. But Kalek is the place where science and passion intersect, the place where it gets expressed as worship.

Maybe that's why he's my favorite character in the whole series.


Kessie said...

Very cool! I hope he features more in your later books. I can tell he's your favorite because you never write about him. :-)

Kat Heckenbach said...

Kessie, I love that you said that! I swear, I almost said the same thing--that you can tell he's my favorite because I find it so hard to write about him :). Keen observer, you.

And yes, he'll be much more present in book 3, which I need to *get on the ball and write.*

Kessie said...

I do the exact same thing with chars I just love. I'm afraid they'll take over if I write them! Giving them their own book is the best.

I don't know if you read Girl Genius, but I notice the writers have the same problem with the male lead. They bend over backward not to write about Gil.

Kat Heckenbach said...

I wonder, too, if maybe it's a fear of not getting him right. He's so vivid in my head, and what if he doesn't make it through properly on the page...

Grace Bridges said...

Umm...You knew I knew about the Job thing, right? :P Although on reflection I'm not sure we ever talked about it. Just that I liked that part a lot as well.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Nope, can't remember you mentioning it :). I only remember you saying you loved that part. Good to know it hasn't escaped everyone!