On the Third Day
Father Darren Prescott is a seeker of truth. He works for The Vatican, but his real work is within his own mind and heart; Father Prescott hunts miracles. Father Thomas is a young priest with a quiet congregation that worships at San Marcos by the Sea, a small cathedral outside San Valencez, California. One Easter Father Thomas’ Mass is interrupted by something he cannot explain – something powerful that shakes his world, and that of his congregation.
Father Thomas experiences the Stigmata.
On The Third Day is the story of Father Thomas and his search for answers. He turns to the church, and his immediate superior, Bishop Michaels, for support and assistance and is shocked to find that not all priests seek miracles. Some are comfortable with the status quo and vicious in their defense of it. Bishop Michaels is battling his own demons, not the least of which is a barely controlled love of alcohol.
Despite the distaste it engenders, Bishop Michaels attends Easter Mass the year after the first “incident.” He comes armed with an attitude of furious disbelief, and a video camera. When Father Thomas not only repeats the previous year’s experience, but with much greater intensity, collapsing across the altar and causing a near riot, the Bishop escapes with his camera, and his sanity, and makes calls of his own. He still does not believe, but now he feels he needs a greater power than his own to prove his disbelief, even to himself.
At the request of Bishop Michaels’ superior, and his own mentor, Cardinal O’Brien, Father Prescott arrives and begins his investigation with a third Easter Mass looming. The Bishop is determined that Father Thomas be proven a charlatan and a fraud. Father Thomas is frightened for his life, and for his faith, and only wants answers. Father Prescott? He wants the miracle he’s waited his entire life to overcome, to make up for what he considers past failings of his own.
What all three men find is the powerful, thrilling conclusion to On The Third Day, an experience that draws them together and pushes them apart in ways they never could have imagined. The answers are there, but some answers are too difficult to bear.
This is one of my best books…it’s a religious, supernatural thriller – Stigmata, miracles, and very soon it will be available in unabridged audio (narrated by Chet Williamson ). It will be in print as well, sometime in 2011.
On the Third Day began long ago as a short story. I had read something about miracles, and I started thinking about how different groups of people might react to things like that. I chose to study it through the eyes of a young priest with a strong, innocent faith in the Church, an older Bishop who prefers the status-quo to actual miracles, and a third priest whose job (and life) is wrapped up in the search for and study of miracles.
The original story, also “On the Third Day,” was published in my first short story collection. The Fall of the House of Escher, & Other Illusions.
After the short story was published, it sat for many years, untouched. As with most stories, once they are written, I thought I was done with it, and had moved on. Then, one year, I determined that I needed to learn to be a screenwriter. I read some books. I read some scripts, and it occurred to me that this story might make a good movie. I began to write. I think as first scripts go, it was passable, but it had a serious flaw – .it was too short. I ended up with a 60 page script when I needed a bare minimum of 90.
For a long time after writing the initial On the Third Day Script, it sat dormant. I was busy writing three chapters and an outline of half a dozen novels for an agent who apparently was determined not to like any of it…and who, oddly, came back and asked if I needed representation after seeing that I’d sold The Mote in Andrea’s Eye – a book she turned down. But that’s an entirely different story.
When I got tired of that nonsense and shifted gears again, I knew I needed a novel to write. I had this screenplay…but it wasn’t long enough to be a film, and the story – even in the 60 page script – wouldn’t sustain a full-length novel. I took the problem to Trish, and we started looking for miracles. She found something so cool people keep questioning if I made it up. You have to read the novel to find it. I also discovered a flaw in my method around that time period – ignoring the reactions of the outside world to supernatural circumstances. With the addition of the new miracles (yes, pural – when you meet Father Prescott, you’ll understand) and a small cast of outside characters looking in, I had enough material to work with.
What I discovered while outlining the novel “On the Third Day” is that a screenplay makes a better novel outline than a novel makes the basis for a screenplay, because you can grow the novel from the screenplay, but must wring the screenplay from the novel and drop a lot of material in the process. On the Third Day the novel gained new characters, a subplot, and came to life.
I’m happy to say that I now have a completed and published novel in digital, which will hit print and audio this year, and I have a completed screenplay of proper length in the bargain. On the Third Day remains one of my favorites among my works of fiction.
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