What Inspired Solomon

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Reprint of an article I wrote on Pubslush about my writing influences. I chose to write about what influenced a very popular character in Return To Sender, Solomon.

My writing influences started early in life. When I was ten years old I met a man outside the cannery in Wheeler Oregon. I was waiting for my dad to drop off his fresh caught salmon and have a beer with the cannery owner. I stayed outside because inside was the nostril scorching stench of dead fish! The one bench was half occupied by that man, so I sat down, broke my Popsicle in two and handed him half. He said “Thank you!” and that he would trade me a good story for my gift.
Several times that summer we sat on that dog-eared bench, shared a Popsicle, a story, and watched pigeons’ pick at fish scraps by the boat ramp. He recanted legends and explained that he was one of the last Nehalem Indians, and that he was healer, a shaman. He had a cryptic dialect and a guttural but soothing voice.
Flash-forward many years; him long forgotten, until one night he came to me in a dream. I knew my wise healer was there for a reason. I tingle now, writing this. I had cancer, however didn’t know it yet –I learned two weeks later. During the two weeks that followed his visit I zealously created a favorite character in my novel; Solomon, the last Nehalem Indian. His visit that night was to let me know he was with me.
In Return to Sender Solomon is the mentor archetype and a shaman who heals the protagonist, Theo, so he can transcend his current state and move on to his destiny. Looking back I realize I unconsciously created what I needed for my journey through cancer. I researched Nehalem myths to make Solomon resonate with that man I met five decades ago who graciously traded Popsicles for enduring mythologies.

About the Book:
Father Theo Riley never wanted to be a priest, nor a killer. The former boxing champion and Korean War veteran gave up more than a career when he went into the Army. He lost the only thing he ever wanted: his love, Andréa Bouvre. Friends thought Theo entered the priesthood to mend his broken heart or atone for the massacred orphans he couldn’t save in Korea. However, the truth is much darker and more damning, tied to a blood debt and family secret that has haunted Theo since he was a boy. He drinks to forget he ever had a life of his own—waits for death, prays for mercy, and hopes for a miracle. He gets all three when a child goes missing, another shows up on his doorstep, and the love of his life drives back into his world; the seaside hamlet of Manzanita Oregon. Theo’s dream reunion with Andréa becomes a nightmare when a serial killer who considers himself a holy man targets the town and everyone Theo loves. Drinking days decidedly behind him, Theo and some old warriors set out to send evil back to hell and a few good souls to heaven in Mindy Halleck’s debut novel.

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