The author meditates on the “one great truth in the universe.”
Buck Storm is a singer and songwriter in Hayden, Idaho. He’s also the author of several books, the latest of which is The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez (Kregel Publications). The novel is a work of literary Americana fiction filled with humor and heart: Lives and hopes collide in the town of Paradise, stretching across decades and continents in this epic story of forgiveness, redemption, and love. In this exclusive interview, Buck shares the inspiration behind the heartbreaking premise, explains some of the quirkier details of the novel, and compares writing fiction with writing songs.
The premise of The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez is so … sad. [When his wife, Angel, is killed in a head-on collision, Gomez Gomez feels he can’t go on–so he doesn’t.] What inspired this storyline?
I remember, some years ago, being on a road trip with an elderly missionary friend. She told me a story about how she fairly regularly picked up the wrong suitcase at airports (you had to know her). One time she found a container of human remains in one of the bags.
I think the book, or at least the title, started percolating then. The thought of a human beings hopes, dreams, favorite songs, first kiss—every experience and memory—ending up as so many ashes in a lost bag I found a tragic and fascinating thought. Of course, the actual story took a hard left as soon as I started writing.
Love, for the believer, is eternal. Grief isn’t. These are things I wanted to explore. To tell you the bottom-line truth, it’s hard for me to say where inspiration comes from for most things I write. I’m generally as surprised as the next guy watching the story unfold.
This is Book One of a series you’ve named “Ballads of Paradise.” What spiritual themes are you exploring in this series? (Do you know yet how many books it will be?)
I almost never start in writing a book with a teaching theme or message in mind. I can’t. Starting out with that kind of weight on my shoulders bogs down the whole process. It allows too much of me in.
For me, too much thought invariably gets in the way of the story. I personally feel a little taken advantage of when I read a sermon thinly disguised as a novel (whatever the faith, political bent, or agenda might be). It’s okay for books to just be books, stories to be stories, even if they exist in the faith-based market.
That being said…as authors, artists, songwriters, etc., we all have soul-themes that will insist on finding their way into our work. They won’t be quiet.
I love God. I love Jesus. I love His love. So, by nature (I hope) these things will find their way into anything and everything I produce, whether it be prose or song or even how I love my family and neighbors.
If I’m honest in my work and let things flow out of my personal relationship with God, then His relentless pursuit will resonate in a reader’s heart in an authentic way.
How does The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez fit into the greater series?
Gomez Gomez sets the scene and creates some natural conflict for follow up books. It also offered me some interesting characters to follow.
I really enjoyed writing the Early Pines. He’s big, loud, and confident in his own slightly off- the-rails way. So, I’ve taken him further in book two, The Sound the Sun Makes, as a central character. It’s another quirky romp. And be ready for a lot of plot twists!
Book three will be Venus Sings the Blues. It will definitely take readers in some unexpected directions. I think I’ll leave that one a mystery for now.
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