Concluding this meandering ridiculous rant about how you distill the meaning of your books into themes is no small task. My limiting goal was to identify one main theme for each of my books. It has to be limited because every well-written book has multiple themes of varying complexity and scope.
And then when you tie everything together as I have done with my Hometown Novels, there are themes that cross the borders from one book into the next. This essay will sum up by telling about the books I have written beyond the borders of my Hometown books.
The Wizard in his Keep
This book is unique in dozens of ways. It is an orphan-journey through a virtual-reality video game that you can actually live inside because of the full-body interface suits that get you into the game. It is science fiction because of the virtual-reality technology, but the competition within the game is set in a fantasy kingdom running on magic and super powers. And the plot is a parallel of Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop.
This book is the conclusion to several character arcs that begin with the Hometown Novels’ very first book, Superchicken. One character’s life ends in death, but on his own terms. Another character finds the answers to his missing sister and the family she kept secret from him. And the orphans find a loving family that they never knew existed. So, one big theme is that; “You make your own happy endings by hard work, risk, and perseverance, not by magic or luck” But this is an overarching theme that covers more than one story in more than two or three other books.
The book also holds true to several other things that are true about my stories. It is a comedy with at least one character dying sometime before the story ends. It is surrealism, giving a rational grounding in realism to some rather fantastic things. And the characters who find success are empathetic types who realize that loving others is more important than loving ourselves.
A Field Guide to Fauns
An important facet of my novel-writing experience has come about through the general audience reception of my works. Specifically, nudists and naturists were attracted to my books through the nudist characters in my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children.
That is the reason this book, A Field Guide to Fauns even exists. I wrote it specifically for an audience of nudists, naturists, and people like me who have always been fascinated by nudism and were simply afraid to actually try it until we grew old, mature, and goofy enough not to care what other people think about me being a naked old man..
The book is about a boy named Devon who goes from a traumatic event that took him out of his divorced mother’s home and put him in his father’s house. But his father is remarried to a woman with twin daughters who are dedicated nudists, and live in a residence that is located in a South Texas nudist park. He has to recover from his trauma by becoming a nudist living a naked life himself. The theme is, “You can overcome childhood trauma if only you are open to being nakedly honest about yourself… especially being nakedly honest with yourself.”
Stardusters and Space Lizards
This story is one of the sequel messes written to go with Catch a Falling Star. It follows the alien characters and three of the human characters from that book out into the stars. It is basically an allegory for the climate-change crisis we face here on planet Earth. Besides the fact that this book offers the idea that inventive children can solve world-wide problems, and Texas politicians can be translated into lizard-people monsters who are actually to blame for everything, the theme of this book is really, “To solve ecological problems on a world-wide scale, we must first acknowledge that those problems are not caused by lack of understanding, but by the disregard for life that people have when they are motivated by personal gain, power, and reputation.”
This book is even harder to give a main theme to since it is a book of essays. Every entry, every single essay, has it’s own unique theme, ideally expressed in a topic sentence that states the theme.
But it is not impossible to find an over-arching theme. It is filled with short vignettes and stories about my childhood, my life as a teacher, my cartoons and bizarre sense of humor, my philosophical musings, and complaints about the things that have hurt me. It is largely autobiographical. And the main theme is basically, “When life gives you lemons, make a lemony joke of some sort because laughing is much better than crying and a better thing to do when you’re blue.”
I know, I know… purple paisley prose.
I am well aware that I have not put a theme to every single book I have written. But I think I have, in the course of 6 essays, done a fair job of puzzling together and proving my point that a novel, or even other kinds of books, need a coherent main theme, and the author should, hopefully, know what those themes are. So, the essay ends here. Mostly because I am old and cranky and tired of repeating myself endlessly.