I write historical fiction because I want to take people on a journey. My characters are just like us–they want to find love, they want to be happy, and they want to live their lives in peace. But they also face obstacles that we don’t normally experience in our countries. In many ways, these obstacles are even more challenging than our own modern-day problems. After reading my work, I hope my readers will better understand the world around them and their own place in it.
Paul Desilets, the main character, volunteers at a time of impending conflict between the Guatemalan government and guerrilla insurgents defending themselves against oppressive conditions. In this troubled world, Paul witnesses crimes and massacres, and struggles to help a way to protect those he feels he must protect. The contradictions of life made evident in his new environment begin to affect him seriously. His character transforms from a romantic aid worker not really adapted to the reality of oppressed peoples, to a more mature man who better understands the complexity of human nature.
And yet his character transforms as he struggles with real-life situations beyond his comprehension as he goes through experience after experience within a country at war. The descriptions of locations combined with realistic dialogues make one feel like being there watching events unfold. All aspects of human nature – the good, the bad and the ugly – are portrayed in this one book.
The novel provides a window into motivations and social connections as people move through violent experiences to find their ways of moving forward in a place torn apart physically, emotionally, and mentally by armed conflict. This story present readers with characters that are entirely realistic portrayals of Guatemalans whose lives were abruptly turned upside down during this period.
I aimed to share their experiences in a way that makes it easy for the readers to reflect on their own life stories. The challenging parts of the character’s time working in Guatemala are portrayed in a realistic way. In hopes of giving the readers a better glimpse into the mind of an aid worker: the highs and lows, personal challenges, disappointing circumstances, how they were dealt with–and most importantly, how much hope is necessary to endure them all.
I have always wanted to help people through my work, so I also felt like this book could be an opportunity to raise awareness about the problems of the Maya in Guatemala but also about indigenous people in general. If anything, I hope it will encourage people to consider volunteering or donating to help those in need.
by J. P. Piché
Author, Blood for Freedom: On a Mission among the Mayas