Image: An old, simple rotary press. (The rotary press described in the Saint Maggie series is steam-powered and much larger. But you get the idea.)
The final step in annoying an industrialist is modeled for us by Eli Smith. Actually, we have seen this before in two preceding novels, Seeing the Elephant and A Good Community. It goes like this: 1) Josiah Norton does something unethical or clueless; 2) Eli Smith pens and prints an editorial; 3) Josiah marches into The Register to complain to Eli; 4) Eli smooths Josiah’s ruffled feathers, but not entirely.
In my work in progress, A Balm in Gilead, it seems that Josiah recognizes Eli's modus operandi. But does that recognition really change the process? After all, Josiah has been successfully annoyed. And, perhaps, Eli’s feather-smoothing even has managed to annoy Josiah, too. In which case, kudos to Eli! He’s annoyed his industrialist twice as much.
(Author’s note: if you’re familiar with the series you’ll notice some changes in The Register’s personnel. Danny Coopernall is now the receptionist, while the former receptionist, Andy Randall, has been promoted to cub reporter. Hey, things change even in novels.)
Despite the above, in the new book Josiah Norton will be in for more than the usual challenges, challenges that just might cause a shift in his attitude and way of life.
Why go in this direction (if the character is amenable)? Simple. I suspect that it is relatively rare for people to go through life and not experience events that challenge their beliefs and even the way they live their lives. I guess I tend to be somewhat optimistic, and therefore it is no surprise that Maggie and Eli have a similar optimism, as does the tone of most of my books.
The long and short of it is that I feel called to bring a bit of hope into a divided and hurting world. Whether anything I do will make any difference is unknown. Just the same, the Saint Maggie books are my way of speaking my piece – and perhaps of speaking for peace.
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder