Our writer Nick Bishop interviewed Arthur Powers to find out what inspired him to write his novel The book of Jotham.
Before your conversion to the Catholic faith did you ever think of God?
Yes - often. From boyhood, I remember thinking about God, even being aware of his presence. However, my educational sophistication convinced me that God was essentially an outdated fairy tale. It took real life experience to learn otherwise.
Is Jotham a fictional person or based on any living historical figure?
Jotham is an entirely fictional character.
What inspired you to write this book?
You may find material in the afterword of the book that is useful to you. Essentially, I had always been a person who identified my being with my intellect; the presence in the world of people who did not have (or who had lost) what we think of as "intellect" challenged me. I took this matter to prayer and the story of Jotham came to me. I believe it was an answer to prayer.
What kind of audience are you aiming at essentially?
I have always been a literary writer. When I wrote Jotham, I wrote it because it was a story that demanded to be written. This was in the 1980s, and the book was too Christian for the literary presses and too literary for the Christian presses. I put it in a drawer. 20+ years later, when Tuscany Press put out a call for novellas, I remembered Jotham, brought it out, and sent it in - a scanned pdf of type written pages. It won the 2012 Tuscany Novella Prize.
Reader response has often surprised me. I believe that readers today are much more open to innovative writing styles - such as the second person, compactly poetic impressionism of Jotham. I have had a very positive response from people who are not readers of literary fiction, but who identify closely with the story. Many people who have mentally-challenged relatives have thanked me for writing it, feeling that it has helped others to understand their loved ones. I've had excellent response from teenagers who have read it, and high school teachers have used it in their classes.
Whether Christians or not, what do you hope your readers will get out of this book?
That the mentally-challenged have gifts and an intelligence that often allows them to understand things the rest of us do not as easily see; that the mentally-challenged are a gift to all of us, enriching our lives. They are important people, who should be treasured.
How will you be promoting this book and will your readers have a chance to meet you or inter - act with you like book signings or social media?
I have done a number of book readings/signings in North Carolina, and am always open to talking to interested groups of readers. I also lead fiction workshops, usually (but not necessarily) in conjunction with The Catholic Writers Guild www.catholicwritersguild.com. I welcome reader correspondence at email@example.com. After a year of intense work and family transitions, I will begin blogging regularly again at www.arthurpowers.com. I am also happy to donate copies of Jotham to any group that works with the mentally challenged - anyone interested is welcome to email me.
Click here to purchase The book of Jotham by Arthur Powers.
Feature by Nick Bishop.