February 24, 2008

Something quite awesome happened today because I went to Starbucks (which seems to be a frequent source of inspiration for me.) Because I ran out of coffee, and because it’s Sunday and the small neighbourhood cafes are closed, I went out for my much-needed cuppa jet fuel-cum-soy latte. On the way back, the bells were ringing ten at the grand cathedral in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. Not being comfortable with the accepted dogma and practice of religious worship, and having coffee in-hand and a baseball cap covering my unruly hair, I decided to have just a peek and move on, but the Muse would have me stay. As I passed the main doors of the church and headed towards a kiddie version of same, I heard a tremendous round of hand-clapping and voice lifting, and was literally inspired by a phrase ‘no communal joyfulness and shouting voices’ that spoke loud and clear. The Muse was onto me. And because I never travel without pen and paper, I sat on the steps and let flow what will likely become a fairly colourful passage on the psychology of religion in my new book, Lake on the Mountain, which takes as a background theme the dour Scottish Presbyterianism that founded much of modern-day Anglo Ontario.

Content with that, I started to leave, but as I paused at the next corner I was over-taken by a baseball-cap wearing teenager, and felt a second Muse encouraging me to sit. This next passage began, ‘He is the kid next door, the one with the Popsicle smile and the ten-cent grin, skateboard beneath one foot…’. This is the other theme of the book—boys who grow up lost, or lonely, and sometimes end up on the street, which is the realm of my protagonist, a missing persons investigator. So if those two passages make it into the final draft of the book, I’ll have to remember that the essential defining theme of Anglo-Canadian Presbyterianism was written in sunny, tropical Mexico on the steps of a Catholic church. God bless us all!

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