At least one reader has pointed out some similarities between Street Preacher and the work of Flannery O’Connor. In particular, the similarities between my novel and O’Connor’s Wise Blood. I should state from the onset that I do not think my work reachers her level. She was one of America’s greatest authors. However, I will admit, my novel is somewhat of an homage.
I love the Hazel Motes character, and he was in the back of my mind when I created John, the homeless man who decides to preach for change. Hazel fought the idea of being a preacher. He randomly selected a hat to match his suit and then to his chagrin kept encountering people who believed it was a “preacher’s hat.” John finds a similar hat and immediately sees a profit to be had because it is a preacher’s hat. Nevertheless, I must admit that the hat is driving much of the story in a similar way.
That’s where the similarities diverge. I think O’Connor, being Catholic, would claim that any mention of faith in Street Preacher is nothing more than the Church of Christ without Christ and I long for the day in the hereafter where we two can discuss it.
Nevertheless, I love Flannery O’Connor and her work. She could see God’s mighty hand of grace in the ugliest of places. It fell heavy on her characters and the reader is always left with a bit of grace to consider lest it crush him or her as well. For this reason, I took my characters into the ugliness of homelessness. I found them in crawlspaces, and alleyways, and mission flop houses, all trying to survive and all bearing the weight of God’s grace.
Only my readers can tell me if I succeeded, but rest assure the work of O’Connor is not an imprint that can be removed easily from my soul.
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower