Inspiration Behind Illusion
New York Times best selling author Frank Peretti talks about the inspiration for his new novel "Illusion."
BY: Gayle Trotter
Gayle: In the book, Dane and Mandy are magicians. Is there a deeper meaning for Illusion than the magical acts that Dane and Mandy create?
Frank: Yes. When you’re lost and separated from God, there is a sense of illusion. What is life really about? Is this some big trick that’s being played on me? What is true and what isn’t? And a fascinating aspect of this is Mandy’s whole predicament where suddenly she doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know who she is or where she belongs or where she came from. All of life becomes an illusion for her. It’s kind of like that song —Amazing Grace — where once I was blind but now I see. That’s a biblical metaphor where a person is blind for a while and is under an illusion or lost, like the blind leading the blind until they find the Lord and the scales fall from their eyes and they say, “Oh! This is who I am and this is where I belong.” That’s the process that Mandy goes through. So illusion plays through the story on a lot of different levels.
Gayle: How much Christian symbolism do you use in Illusion? I’m thinking of the doves, for example.
Frank: Oh my, yes. You’ve got the doves. You have Mandy’s father who is kind of a Father God figure. You have the ranch in Idaho, which is a symbol of heaven, not that Idaho is heaven, but it looks pretty heavenly today, looking out the window. But it has its bad days too. And, of course, Vegas, that’s easy. You can figure that’s the dark, sinful life. That’s easy to pull Vegas out of the hat. The fiery volcano at the end, of course, that’s obviously hell and judgment. She’s falling headlong toward hell and judgment. A whole flock, a whole legion of doves grabs her, the Holy Spirit bears her along and she finds the way back to heaven again where she’s reconciled back to her bridegroom who is a symbol of Christ. And so all that stuff’s in there. It’s kind of cool. It’s like being C.S. Lewis or something and writing the Narnia books with Aslan and all this other business.
Gayle: Yes, absolutely. The main protagonist in your book is Mandy, the wife. How are you able to get inside the mind of a woman?
Frank: Man, I don’t know. Being married to one sure helps. A woman is — just speaking from experience, being married to Barb — women are sure marvelous creatures. They are so delicate and insightful, and they’re just fun. There’s a certain word — I don’t want to use the word “mystique” because there’s a book, The Feminine Mystique, and that’s not at all what I’m talking about. Women are just intriguing and kind of mysterious to me. I don’t know, it’s just part of their charm, I guess. The Lord made them that way. Guys tend to be the logical, macho, warrior caveman — even when we’re sophisticated and wearing a suit, we’re still going out there and clubbing a bear and dragging it back to the cave. But the woman is the nurturer, the creator. You know what’s even interesting about that is how — this is a sidebar, but — women magicians, as opposed to man magicians, it’s interesting how man magicians are: sawing women in half and blowing things up and you have big saw blades cutting people in half. When you have a woman magician, she produces flowers, she weaves things together, and she uses scarves and produces these fun, creative things. The woman is the nurturer; she’s the creator; she’s the one who brings things to life and all that stuff weaves in. I just gave my wife a kiss; she’s going off on a plane. Now getting back to how did I get inside a woman’s mind, I don’t know. You just have to be real sensitive and just live with a dear wife like mine for all those years and for me, in terms of my own personal experience, you just have to maintain a sense of fascination. I think Mandy is fascinating.
Gayle: I agree.
Frank: Even as I’m writing this story I’m just kind of caught up and really intrigued with the character because she’s just so interesting. And that’s the way Barb is; she’s just so interesting. I never have quite figured her out.