To begin with, I want to thank Norma for allowing me to be her guest today. If she hasn’t told you already, I’m giving away a Kindle on May 15th to a lucky follower of the REUNION blog tour. You can get the details about the book, the tour, and the contest at jeffbennington.com. Good Luck!
The Spiritual Side of Reunion
The premise that a book about a school shooting could be inspiring might take many readers off guard. The idea can sound presumptuous or arrogant at best. But that is exactly what I had set out to do while writing Reunion, my first supernatural thriller. Reunion gets into the minds of a teen killer, but it also takes the reader through the pain and lasting effects of the survivors who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, all in varying degrees. So with the goal of entering into eight different character points of views, I knew I had to get the spiritual side right. I knew I would have to find each character’s darkest fear, deepest cut and worst nightmare, because pain is what often drives us forward, even if we try to avoid it.
When I think of David Ray (the teen killer in Reunion) and those like him, I get very confused. I feel a dual sense of pity and hatred, compassion and condemnation. And that is what I tried to bring into this story. David’s life had to be complicated because no ones life is simple, especially a killer’s life. Killers are tormented, hurting people, who try to place the blame of their hurt on those around them. It’s ugly, but it’s true. Killers are spiritual beings; they’re just darker than the rest of us, with deeper wounds.
The same goes for the other seven characters: Lana, Noah, Nick, Kate, Tanner, Bryan and Maria. Each one has something that they left behind the day of the shooting, something that gouged their soul so incredibly deep that they feel the pain every day of their life. Imagine being a child, say seventeen or eighteen years old, and you watch your best friend, brother, or boyfriend die in your arms. Think about how heartbreaking, how painful and traumatic that would be. One minute you think you you’re going to spend the rest of your life with that sweet girl in your arms and the next minute she’s laying in your lap, dead. Imagine what that would do to your psyche. I’d guess that some would want to reach out and smack God in the face, condemning him as well as the killer. I also believe that some would fall on their knees, because in times like those, when everything falls apart, there’s nowhere else to look but up.
Reunion offers a variety in its characters. It will bring you into the lives of the survivors twenty years after the shooting where some begin to discover a freedom from the pain while others fall achingly into an abyss of survivor’s remorse and PTSD. The supernatural tones of the book only underline the idea that this world can be a dark place, and for some, it truly is. However, it can also be a place where hope is found in the direst of circumstances. So if you think a school shooting is too disturbing to read about, than consider the fact that more and more teens are experiencing this reality everyday. There have been more school shootings after Columbine than the hundred years before April 20th, 1999!
There are kids out there who are closed off to human suffering; their hearts growing colder as each day passes. There are children out there who will hop on the bus one morning and never come home. I wrote Reunion to bring attention to the growing reality of bullying and school shootings, but also to bring attention to the pain and trauma that continues years after the act of violence. I wanted demonstrate that whether we like it or not, our spirituality and the spirituality of those around us can have a dramatic impact on our life and those around us, changing everything in a matter of seconds. No one knows when our time will expire, or when and how we’ll enter eternity. But I believe that contemplating what comes beyond the grave is the best way to prepare for that day.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to “Follow” Norma’s blog and then go get your copy of Reunion. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Also available at B&N, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore and in print.