What happens when we are in the presence of innocence? How does it affect us? Innocence and the impact it has on people is a common theme in Edgy-Catholic fiction.
Graham Greene saw innocence as a source of temptation, as even the more corrupt characters would strive to protect the innocent. One of my favorites was the lighthearted spy thriller, Our Man in Havana, where the main character’s daughter is a complete innocent and the motivation that draws him into trouble is a desire to buy her a pony.
And J R R Tolkien in Lord of the Rings also saw innocence as a powerful temptation, as Gandalf explained to Frodo that if he possessed the ring of power, the temptation to aid the innocent would be too great for him and the ring would corrupt him.
My own novel, When the Wood Is Dry: An Edgy Catholic Thriller explores the impact of innocence. In fact, the first part is titled, I. Call of the Innocent. But rather than focusing only on the character’s drawn to corruption to protect the innocent, my work also reflects the view of the innocent herself saying, “Don’t sin to protect me.”
The call of the innocent is complex, however, also pulling toward redemption. Characters are both drawn to the light and drawn toward darkness to protect the light. When I sent copies of my books to Dean Koontz as part of a Christmas present, When the Wood Is Dry had not yet been released. He sent me in return his book titled, Innocence, which I recommend, as well. His book, however, focuses on a different aspect of how innocence can affect people: people respond with violence when in its presence.
I find that my work includes this possibility, as well. After all, my innocent character Lali needs protection, as she finds herself in a heap of trouble. The call to protect the innocent would not be so strong if there were not those who wanted to destroy innocence when confronted by it. The sinister desire to corrupt the innocent or abuse the innocent is purely evil, and the darkest reaction of the presence of innocence.
I remember someone familiar with only part of When the Wood Is Dry suggested that my character, Lali, may be “too good.” I am aware that the “too good” trap is one that many authors fall into. But, her innocence and naivete are what makes the theme possible, and the things that happen to her the more horrific. There are, after all, saints who walk the earth. And, when this innocence confronts evil, violence is the inevitable result. Or, so I’ve heard…