I forget where I heard it, but I recall noting a writer say that all serious fiction deals, somehow, in some capacity, with death. Compelled by this notion, I set out to write a story that would deal with and confront death head-on. In my head a character began to take form: a retired accountant, on the grouchy side, living in Seattle, tasked with grieving the loss of his wife. I wanted to craft a portrait of a man suffering through grief, in every stage, in all its raw ugliness. I wanted to ask the big questions: What is death? What happens after we die? Is there a God? How could God, if He exists, allow something as awful as death to be in the first place? Clearly, my stakes were not small. Like I said, I wanted to paint a portrait of this man, named Hugo, as his life spanned an interval of time, a year. I wanted to capture his development, his progress as well as his setbacks. I wanted to tell stories using his relationships. This, then, formed the basis for my novel.
As I worked on the story, things began to take on a deeply personal resonance. Having lost my own mother a little more than ten years ago, I wanted to explore my own grief through Hugo's. I wanted to explore, to ask questions, to dwell in the space of uncertainty for a moment. Really, I wanted to create something that would stand as a tribute to my mother and who she was, and so I dedicated the novel in her memory.
Spirituality plays a large role in the book, as Hugo questions and navigates his loss. I won't say much about the ending of the story at this point, because that would be kinda silly, but I will simply state that this book is intended for all readers, regardless of spiritual orientation, that it does not seek to convert, and that, in the story, there are characters who model many different spiritual traditions, including the non-spiritual. For those of you who read the first, self-published edition of this book, know that I rewrote the ending, though I won't say how or to what degree things changed.
These are just some of my thoughts regarding my motivation behind the book. I look forward to allowing you to experience it firsthand very soon.