Hesper is one of the main characters in my novel, Tree of Life. I thought I’d offer an interview with her for anyone who’s interested. You can also read an interview with Cole or his brother David if you’re interested in an explanation of how the world of Tree of Life became what it is or, perhaps gaining some insight concerning the polygamous practices in the story
Without further ado, meet Hesper. :o)
1) Hesper, what is your story about and why might someone like it?
- My story? I grew up in the forest because the Meros forced my ancestors to hide there two centuries ago. They destroyed our nation and most of our people, but some of us fled to various wild places for shelter. We’ve been there ever since. I chose to leave the forest to help a little boy, but the Meros didn’t let me return home. After that, it does not feel like my story. It feels like a story that is happening to me. I think it is about the ways that life sweeps us up. We are not always in control of our story, sometimes it is in control of us, and we must do our best in the circumstances we find ourselves in.Why someone would like it? I do not know. If someone likes it, it will be, perhaps, because they have felt powerless in their lives, too.
2) You do not use contractions. What’s the reason for that?
- Contractions are when you blend words together, right? I have been told that it was decided upon many years before I was born. I think it is considered a more intelligent way of speaking and it resists degradation. If it is a rule that we do not mix our words together, we are less likely to destroy the language. It keeps us unified in one way of speaking.
3) You lived among your own people, the Unified, until the Meros kidnap you. Both groups have different ideas about morality. What are some things the Meros get right or wrong? What are some things the Unified get right or wrong?
- The Meros should not kidnap women and they should allow them to have children. It is not wise to allow the Meros men to have many wives, either. Or to sell women like slaves! The Meros get very little right. Divorce is a thing to grieve, but they do it for anything without even holding each other to mourn the loss of their unity before making that decision. As it is, they only sign a piece of paper and the marriage is dissolved.
The Unified have many things right, but we live in fear, and I do not think that is healthy. I have learned that the difficult restriction on touch between the sexes is a wise one. I have never felt more selfish or inconsiderate as when a man touches me. It would cause division that the Unified could never survive with.
3) After living with the Meros, would you appreciate your forest life more or less?
- The luxuries of the Meros lifestyle . . . Fruit at any time, spices, big, soft beds, warm homes in the winter, lights that turn on with a switch, and the ridiculous soft dresses they dress Unified women in are all pleasurable, but they breed weakness and indulgence that would not nurture the self-sacrifice required to keep a strong, unified people. That kind of pampering will lead to decadence. I prefer to live the harder life with trees and freedom. The time of pampering is nice, but nothing is as satisfying as hard work and the nurturing atmosphere of the forest.
4) You had never heard of God for most of your life. You learn that the Meros believe in an invisible deity that created everything, but you are uncertain of Its existence yourself. If you were convinced God was real, would you worship it?
- If I were convinced that this god of theirs was real and beautiful or worthy of admiration, I would worship It in the same way I worship a child by touching its soft hair or a flower by smelling it. I would find the way to worship their god, and I would do it. If It is as good, wise, and beautiful as some believe It is, I would be a fool to never acknowledge or appreciate it. But I would not do what the Kyrios who claim to speak for It say should be done. I would offer my life to the god, but I do not belong to them by extension, no matter what they tell me.
5) Who are the Kyrios?
- They are a group of men and women who claim to speak for the Meros god. I had never heard of them until I went into the outside world. They are the lawmakers and the only people who know how to harvest the death-light. They are evil people with no sense of honor.
6) Explain the death-light to us.
- If I understand correctly, it is a light from a supernatural source that they use to burn the bodies of their dead. They believe that it is the only way their soul can reach an afterlife. They go there in the smoke.
7) What are you most passionate about, Hesper?
- I am most passionate about being of use. I am nothing if I am not useful. None of us are anything without usefulness in our lives. We are just selfish humans who consume without producing anything worthwhile for those around us or for future generations.