Today, please join me in welcoming Author and Pastor Dale Harris to I & R. Dale is an author, pastor, poet, and songwriter. He writes regularly about faith and spirituality on his blog, Terra Incognita, and explores the deep truths of Christian theology on his YouTube channel, Three Minute Theology.
He taught English literature in St. Paul, Alberta and studied theology in Caronport, Saskatchewan before going into full-time ministry as a pastor in the city of Oshawa, Ontario. His short story "The New Parson of Petit-Wasmes" was recently longlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Awards. His first novel, Though I Walk (Word Alive Press) won the Braun Book Award for Fiction in 2020. And today, Dale is going to talk to us about this book!
How long have you been writing?
One of my earliest memories is “writing” a murder/mystery story at the age of five or six. I hadn’t yet learned to write, but I drew the illustrations for each page and then dictated the story to my father, who wrote it all out for me. I must have recently seen an episode of Dr. Who on TV because I recall that the main character was a mysterious, hooded figure named “Mr. Who.” Not to give away the ending, but it turns out that Mr. Who was the murderer all along.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written two, plus a number of short stories. Though I Walk is my first novel. I’ve recently released a book of poetry called Daytime Moons and Other Celestial Anomalies, and my short story “The New Parson of Petit-Wasmes” was recently longlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Awards. In addition to this, I wrote and produced a musical based on the life of Saint Patrick called The Saint and the Slave.
What is the central theme of Though I Walk?
Though I Walk is about God’s gracious presence in the midst of unfulfilled longing and deep loss, and the beautiful way he has of bringing goodness out of suffering when we choose to walk through it faithfully with him.
What inspired you to write it?
My wife and I visited the island of Crete as part of a backpacking tour of Europe back in 1996. We got talking with another tourist while we were all sitting by the Heraklion harbour, waiting for a ferry at 5:00 in the morning. He told us about a tour he had taken of some of the villages up in the hills of the island and shared some of the stories he’d heard about the Cretan resistance fighters during World War II. In particular, he explained that many of the Cretan guerrillas had remained in hiding in the mountains long after the war was over. This offhand comment planted the seed that would eventually grow up into Though I Walk.
How interesting! Which character do you like the most in Though I Walk?
My favorite is Grace. In earlier drafts of the novel, I did not spend much time working on her motivation as a character, but in the second and third drafts, I was challenged to develop this more deeply. I began to explore the psychology that lay beneath her choices and actions. As I did she came to life for me in a very moving way, and I started to have a great deal of admiration for her. This gave a new shape to the final version of the novel, making it a much more authentic story than it would have been otherwise.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Yes. I am currently working on a collection of short stories called A Feast of Epiphanes. The stories all deal with characters who have “epiphany moments” with God. Some of them are extraordinarily supernatural and others are far too human, but all of them reveal something unexpected about God’s mysterious presence in our lives.
Do you talk to your characters?
Not usually, but there is a chapter in Though I Walk where Grace visits her pastor to talk about some of the difficulties she’s been having. In writing that scene I was trying to imagine what I myself would have said as a pastor, if someone in Grace’s circumstances were to have visited me like that. The whole chapter grew out of that imaginative conversation with her.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I am the lead pastor of a Free Methodist/Church of the Nazarene church in the city of Oshawa, Canada, called the Corner Church. I am an adjunct professor of New Testament at Eston College in Saskatchewan. I am also a songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, and an avid blogger (daleblogging.blogspot.com).
Thank you for sharing with us today Dale. May God continue to bless you as you serve Him!
When Grace Stewart’s fiancé Stephen leaves Halifax in 1937 to pursue his dream of becoming an archaeologist in Greece, neither of them expect that war will soon engulf the world, keeping them apart for nearly ten years. As Stephen gets caught up in the resistance movement on the island of Crete, Grace immerses herself in the war effort at home, held up by her faith and praying for his safe return.
Though her prayers are eventually answered and she and Stephen are finally reunited, he is never able to speak of the things he saw in Greece. After his sudden death in 1967, however, Grace discovers among his effects the journal he kept during that dark time… a journal which allows her to, at long last, piece together the unimaginable story of the man she thought she knew.