The Tuning Station has been out for nearly a month now. And while it hasn’t exactly shaken up the world, it has sold slow and steady, and found readers in four countries so far. The reaction, at least from those who have either reviewed the book or contacted me personally, has been satisfying and often humbling. But most gratifying is how many have felt a personal connection to the story.
Some comments I’ve received:
“The story made me cry, and nowadays barely any novel does that anymore.”
“The discussion is not a whole lot different than the constant introspection, self doubt and fears of an Asperger’s host. Personally, I read my life in this account”
“By the time I reached about 30% I still was not quite certain yet, if the story was written from Christian or an atheist perspective.”
“I think you did a great job, portraying both sides in quite a fair manner to the point where you even gave the atheist a few points of advantage in the beginning. This might allow a non-religious person to identify with Ted. “
“Not only does the novel avoid caricatures and glib answers, but it tells the story of two versions of the same life in a manner that is profoundly moving. “
“(the main character) seems to me a lot like my oldest son. He was never diagnosed with Aspergers or anything else, but he was always considered strange by other kids and by his teachers, and he was therefore constantly bullied in school, badly bullied.”
As the comments indicate, it’s definitely not light summer reading.
The topic of Aspergers is one that is near to my heart. My oldest son was diagnosed with it as a small child, and he’s exactly like me. It provided a way to explain how our minds work, and why we have difficulties connecting with others, especially during our formative years. This theme made the book extremely personal for me, despite the character’s difficult past that I do not share, and the obviously fictional sci-fi elements.
It was my intention to write a book that presented the atheist characters fairly and respectfully, in a way that feels real. In doing so, it has proven to be an uncomfortable journey for some Christian readers. My opinion is that the best way to communicate with someone is to truly understand him or her; to go beyond the obvious exterior and figure out “why”. The book sets up a circumstance where the two main characters know each other in a way impossible in the real world. Up to a point in time, everything about them was identical – events, actions, feelings, and even the exact thoughts in their head. More alike than any two people could be, even identical twins. Thus, how they could possibly end up at two dramatically different points of view is a mystery that can only be revealed by delving deeply into their lives and reactions to each other.
The most humbling comment I’ve received so far is this one:
“I finished the Tuning Station last night. Whew, what a ride. I’m praying that God will show me why, at this time in my life, all this stuff from my past was dredged up again. Stuff I haven’t thought about in a long, long, time. I almost put it down it brought up so many bad memories. But I finished it and now I just will keep asking what am I suppose to do with it?”
I wrote this novel because of what I see in the world around me these days. Young people are losing their faith, and so many of our actions are counter-productive; from severing relationships to preaching apologetics, both sides seem to talk around the issues. Why, exactly, do we see the same things so differently? Why does something so meaningful to me leave another person unaffected? When something turns us against God, what is it that brings us back?
I want us to find ways to truly understand each other, so we can more fully be expressions of God’s love towards all humanity.