Simply knowing that I wrote a book is one helluva experience.
Seeing it on amazon.com is breath-taking!
I’ve been giddy as a school boy since Monday, September 22nd, 2014, when I first saw “Francis of Assisi” on a sales page for the giant book-selling conglomerate. I knew it was true because it appeared on the Internet. It’s like seeing something you accomplished mentioned in your town newspaper, particularly, if your town is published in the equivalent of the New York Times.
There it was, a picture of Francis with a beard and a hood partly covering his face. I chose this look over the younger version which I had inserted halfway through the book. That black and white drawing suggests what the good monk looked like in his mid-20s when he started his mission for the poor and “Lady Poverty.” I identified more with the elder Francesco, the one who suffered from scars inflicted in battle, and later from life in a prison cell. Some wounds can’t be seen on the surface and Francis dealt with these demon-like injuries all of his adult life, eventually going blind and as impaired as the thousands of souls he touched through a life-time of devotion to service to his fellow-man (and woman!).
Me . . . an author.
Well, there was the evidence, even though my name appears no where at the Amazon site.
You see, I chose to honor my father, Achilles Contoveros, by using his surname. It means “Singer of Truth.” That beautiful name was shortened to “Contos” when he arrived at Ellis Island from his Greek village in the early part of the 20th century. Contos means “Short.” That’s one of the reasons I identified so strongly with someone like Francis. I’m barely 5-ft, 6-inches tall, while he was 5-foot, 2 inches.
I wrote in the first person. Some fundamentalists may criticize me and anyone else who dares to speak for such a person like Francis. But, I felt moved to write this way. You don’t know how hard it was to visualize the pain he went through when he was branded by the Stigmata two years before his death. I took on his pain and the pain of the one who he had emulated.
Contos appears no where in the book. It is fitting, I believe, because I tried my best to suppress my ego while writing as Francis.
Most of what I wrote is based on hard facts. Some of it comes from legends, particularly, the stories involving St. Clare. I imagined what it was like for the “King of the Revelers,” as Francesco was called by his Italian friends growing up in the city-state of Assisi. His battle with the neighboring Perugia is the God’s honest truth and so is his battles with a pope and several bishops. Let’s not forget that he tried to convert one of the leaders of the Saracens, the Muslims that had conquered and ruled over Jerusalem in the 13th century. The only fictional chapter I provided out of whole cloth, so to speak, deals with a love affair I forced Francis into with an older woman of color. It was this episode, I wrote, that freed him from the doldrums he fell into and compelled him to seek the answers to questions seekers of the truth still ponder some 800 years later.
I am walking on air today. I smile too much, and I engage perfect strangers in conversations best left for intimate discussion with friends. I don’t care. I am riding a high and memorializing it in writing as we speak. I know I’ll come down. I plan to write some more fiction real soon. I’m researching the materials now, and I feel like I’m living in two worlds — the world of today with a new book, and that of tomorrow, with the hopes for another wonderful date with my wonderful amazon.com.