Getting into some spoiler stuff... All That Is Common To Man
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
I’m working on the next book. It’s still in the beginning, but it feels like I’m moving into a different stage. The characters are taking shape; they aren’t quite so murky. They’re getting a bit more definition as I clear the fog. What helps the most is learning what the sub-story is, the underlying themes and ideas that reside further down.
Layers… I like a story with layers.
As promised, I’ll dive into the layers of “All That Is Common To Man”. By default, I’ll wade into spoiler territory. If you’ve not finished yet, you might want to and come back later. Or maybe you don’t mind some spoiler content - either way. I only want to provide a heads up as to what you’re getting here.
Let’s start here:
“Rachel’s plate lay shattered across the floor, no longer a memory, but seven jagged shards.”
It’s not chance that the plate broke into 7. In fact, this is the first of many Easter Eggs throughout the novel.
Early on, I knew the characters would represent the seven deadly sins. They changed a few times; the relationships were different. But ultimately I kept it within the family. The Thurman family, actually.
The plate breaking was the first hint at something supernatural. It’s unexplained. It throws Nathan off. It feels impossible. But there it is, the last memory of a shared meal broken on the floor. And it’s the first reference to 7 that I make, which I repeat in various ways until the very end. Maybe I’ll go into the Easter Eggs in another post - for now it seems fun to let them be a hunt.
Each member of the Thurman family represents a specific deadly sin:
Lucas - Gluttony
Tommy - Sloth
Lily - Lust
Jonathan - Envy
Edward - Greed
Elisabeth - Pride
Rachel - Wrath
Lucas destroys himself with chemical abuse. He can’t get enough. Tommy knows it, but does nothing to help his brother. Actually, Tommy knows a lot and neglects to take action. Lily wants more than anything to get out - and is willing to do just about anything to get what she wants, including taking someone’s husband. Jonathan is jealous of his brother and ultimately takes what never should have been his at all. Elisabeth believes herself to be a treasure, but not in a healthy way. Nothing is ever her fault - she has elevated herself over all others, justifying her actions in the process.
And Rachel… we’ll come back to her.
I attempted to show the seven deadly sins within each member of the Thurman family. But through actions and motivations. What was inside them. I made a rule for myself. I wasn’t allowed to use the “proper” name for the sins. Not once. If word search is to be trusted, I succeeded in not using gluttony, sloth, lust, envy, greed, pride, or wrath (or their variations) in the book's length. I forced myself to show each sin represented through character actions and motivations. I’m glad I made the rule for myself. Honestly, no one will probably ever put that part together. But I know, and it’s a fun bit of trivia that makes me happier with the finished product.
Ultimately, the book is about the nature of sin. About how it’s messy. It’s about how, in many ways, we are the cause of our own downfall. And it’s about how our sins ultimately destroy us.
That’s enough for now - this is probably sufficient to change the way you read the book. You’ll see things differently, or at least I hope you do. I wanted this to work at a surface level, but to also have something more if anyone gave it a second read. The characters will be more transparent. The Manor and all its oddities will have new meaning. The Sheriff and the townies - they all have a specific role to play. Even the structure of the book itself…
More to come…
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