Letters from Elsewhere

Please welcome Andrew Shepherd, today’s visitor. Unfortunately, Andrew’s life hasn’t turned out the way he hoped and expected. Fifteen years ago, he and Matthew Clancy were brilliant young genetic researchers on the Human Genome Project at Cambridge University. But a scandal caused them to lose their jobs, and nowadays Shepherd finds himself down on his luck, teaching biology part-time at a young offenders’ institute. Clancy, meanwhile, became a professor and now has a successful genetic testing company. You can read Shepherd’s letter to Clancy. It’s more than a little disturbing!

Andrew Shepherd has flown in from the pages of the soon-to-be-released thriller, Reprobation by Catherine Fearns, another Crooked Cat novel.

20th July, 2017

Dear Matthew,

I hope this finds you well. You made yourself very clear at our last meeting, but I feel I must make one final attempt to bring you in on the OS1 project.

The preliminary results are astounding, and I am convinced it will be a success. Both patients are doing very well. Patient 1 was initially unresponsive, but following a course of dexamethasone the virus began to take, and I can now confirm the soteriological marker is present throughout his body. The lad hasn’t quite grasped the necessity of periodic boosters throughout his lifetime, but I believe that further Bible study will convince him.

But Patient 2, Matthew, Patient 2! A viable pregnancy was achieved after only two months, and I must congratulate myself there on my amateur IVF abilities. The foetus is now at 20 weeks’ gestation, and both mother and baby are in full possession of the OS1 marker. She is a simple girl, and although it pains me to say it, her learning difficulties proved useful in getting her to accept the treatment. She is living with me, and I feel that I am justified in having rescued her from a life of violence and poverty to one of, well, what can we say? As for the birth, I am in two minds as to whether it should take place in hospital. There may be dark forces of which we are unaware, working against us, and this baby must be protected. The pregnancy is currently unregistered, and if you were to come in on this, Matthew, we both know someone who could help her deliver at home.

Think of it! A child born without sin; think of what it means! All we ever wanted as geneticists was to make a difference, and what greater difference could there be. Matthew, you cannot deny what we discovered. Together; yes, we discovered it together. What happened in Cambridge was not blasphemy, and it was not by chance. You say that you fear the consequences of deviating from God’s plan, but this, Matthew, this is God’s plan for us. We are prophets. More than prophets, we could be the veritable architects of the Second Coming.

I intend to submit the paper, with or without your blessing. You cannot prevent it. This secret is not ours to keep. The title shall be ‘Spontaneous versus artificial mutation of the OS1 gene: a soteriological approach’ by Andrew Shepherd, PhD. I had hoped that your name would be on it too; indeed  without the support of your good name and institution I have no credibility. Baptiste has been generous in supplying the necessary equipment for my lab; however he is not the person I need.

And so in vain hope, I leave you with the latest draft of my research paper. I hope it will become our research paper.

Yours,

Andrew

About Reprobation

Reprobation by Catherine FearnsAre You One Of The Elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime. When a body is found crucified on on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker. Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

You can buy Reprobation on Amazon.

About Catherine Fearns

Catherine Fearns, author of ReprobationCatherine Fearns is a music journalist from Liverpool, UK. She writes about heavy metal for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey, and her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Offshoots, Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone and Metal Music Studies. She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association. Reprobation is her first novel and has a Kindle release date of 16th October 2018 (paperback edition available now). A sequel, Consuming Fire, has been signed for publication in early 2019.

You can find Catherine on her website and on Twitter.

 

Advertisements

This is one of several posts about my recent trip to Ethiopia. The others, so far, are:

The Black Country | Anecdotes | Transport

Ethiopia is a country of religion, more than any other country I know. All the residents seem to identify with a religion.

addis-ababa-holy-trinity-cathedral-interior-1

Addis Ababa Holy Trinity Cathedral (Photo by David Drori)

One of the guides informed us that Ethiopia is roughly half Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and half Muslim. This made me wonder why we weren’t shown more about Islam. Is it because there is nothing particularly worth seeing in connection with the Muslim community? Or is it because every one of our guides was Christian?

from-mekele-to-lalibela-128

(Photo by David Drori)

Proof (if we needed it) was all around us, in the crosses hanging in vehicles, in the way one of the drivers crossed himself three times each time we passed a church, in the keeping of fast days. On those days – twice a week – adherents refrain from eating all animal products, including eggs and milk products. There are stricter and less strict versions, but this seems to be the norm.

lalibella-asheten-mariam-monastery-30

Lalibela – Asheten Mariam monastery (Photo by David Drori)

We visited many churches, always having to leave our shoes outside. We saw separate entrances for men and women. All the churches had an area where only priests were allowed to enter. We saw pictures, including many from the Old Testament. Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity treats the Old and New Testaments with equal importance.

lalibella-st-georges-day-ceremony-35

Lalibela – St. George’s Day ceremony (Photo by David Drori)

Apart from churches and monasteries, we witnessed religious ceremonies outside. In Axum, we saw the Timket ceremony, of which the highlight involves jumping into the lake and filling bottles with holy water. In Lalibela, we saw the celebrations for St. George’s Day.

lalibella-church-interior-ceiling-142

Lalibela church interior – ceiling (Photo by David Drori)

Perhaps because of where we came from, the guides were keen to stress the many similarities between Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and Judaism. They don’t eat pork. They pray in an ancient language called Gez, which is similar to Hebrew. Etc. Jews have lived in Ethiopia for a long time, starting (if Ethopian tradition can be believed) with the son of King Solomon. When Christianity arrived in Ethiopia, most people converted. Recently, during the 1980s and ’90s, Ethiopians Jews were brought to Israel and there might not be any Jews left in Ethiopia.

I haven’t mentioned the traditional, tribal religions, and I promise to do so in another post.

I hope you’re enjoying the lovely photos taken by David Drori. You can view the full set on Flickr.

There’s one church that he didn’t photograph and that’s because… I’ll leave that for next time!

One more thing: in  Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, shown above, we saw the crypt of Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife. (I mention that because someone said she was particularly interested to read about him.)

A-Z Challenge 2015This is where things get complicated (as is often the way with religion). You don’t just have to describe religious practices. You have to get into the characters’ heads and work out why beliefs make them act and talk as they do.

In this article, Amanda McCrina claims that the vast majority of historical fiction mostly ignores religious practices and the pervasiveness of religion in people’s lives, making them more modern in outlook than they really were. This makes life easier for the modern writer and also makes it easier for the modern reader to identify with the characters.

 Baby

In my previous post, I suggested that writers’ blogs are shallow and uninteresting. By writing that, I have been introduced to some very different blogs, and especially mapelba, who poses some thought-provoking questions. The question in her latest post is: “Where do you come from? Does your answer explain your writing?” Some people come from some very dark places. I come from a place of love, protection and loneliness….

~~-~~

I come from a place so deep in suburbia that the bus came only once every half hour – if you were lucky.

I come from a world of secrets and pretence. Of feeling guilty every time I forgot.

I come from a father who I now know was a people pleaser, who needed everyone to think well of him, and who took out his frustrations on his wife. And a mother who never understood that. I come from a mother who never understood many things. I come from parents who had had enough excitement in their lives by the time I was born.

I come from a place where religion is a noose, a chore, a secret, an embarrassment, a reason for keeping quiet. But also a fine tradition, an offloading of worries and hopes, an expression of sadness and joy.

I come from a place where teachers just taught and children were free to torment as much as they wanted. Where no one explained to them that their actions could be a life sentence.

I come from a place where loneliness is the norm and thoughts have no human outlet.

I write to tell the world that whole lives can be spoilt because of where they come from, if no one notices or acts in time.