Catholic Book Spotlight

The Third Dawn
by Thomas J. Nichols
164 pages, May 2003

 

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This is a very spiritual novel.  What is your background with the Church and what prompted you to write this story?

My meaningful relationship with the church began in Kansas City, Missouri in the 1940’s. I was a student at Christ the King School; was very ill with asthma; and lived with my parents and siblings. We were of very modest income. Of course, nuns did not own or drive cars. It was not unusual for some of the nuns to walk more than a mile through all sorts of weather to our home when I was sick to deliver a holy card to me. When my illness became critical, the nuns helped my family arrange to send me to an orphanage in Tucson, Arizona. The Sisters of Saint Joseph, who oversaw the facility, took in sick children who had to live in a dry climate for their health. That turned my life into one of health and vigor, and here I am 54 years later enjoying the fruits of their labor.

My family moved two years later to Tucson. I graduated from Bishop Salpointe High School, and later from the University of Arizona. I have maintained my active participation with the church over these years. I retired from the Lubbock Serra Club; my wife and I are members of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher; and, we are the chairpersons for the St. Elizabeth University Parish Capital Development Fund in Lubbock, Texas.

Your character, Nur, is a constant companion to Jesus in The Third Dawn and yet is not a true Biblical character.  How did you come to create Nur and why is he so central to this book?

My goal in writing The Third Dawn was to reflect and understand Jesus and his parents not just as The Holy Family, but also as ordinary people – people who enjoyed good company and conversation; a family dog; people who got tired; who got cold and hot; people just like everyone else; except of course, their lives were also totally different from us; they were the parents of the Messiah. And, Jesus was true God, yet true man.

Nur is a necessary character to the story for two purposes. He is the common  thread who carries the reader from where the novel begins before the Nativity, through the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, and her coronation as the Queen of Heaven. Secondly, he is there as a reminder to the reader that The Third Dawn is a novel, and is not offered as a true visionary statement on the life of Jesus, especially during the “hidden years.”

What preparations did you undertake to write the story of Jesus' life from this unique perspective?  What did you learn in the process? 

To prepare to write this novel, I did research into documented travels of the apostles; studied various versions of the bible; studied the Koran, and read numerous articles and books about Mary’s life and death, and of her burial.  I also studied miscellaneous topics such as flora and fauna, astrology, customs, and rituals.    

I loved the loving familial relationship you describe in the book.  What was the inspiration behind the dialogue between Mary, Joseph and Jesus? 

My goal is for the reader to pause and remember Jesus and his family as real people, and to give some thoughtful ideas about Jesus during is “hidden years.” 

Dialogue between Jesus and the others was another effort to reveal them as ordinary people, while at the same time, being very extraordinary people with a magnificent role to be fulfilled with unabashed love and devotion to their mission. 

What are your future projects? 

My previous book, Color of the Prism, is a novel based on real-life events during my police career. It is an effort to reveal to the reader the hardships we place on undercover police officers, while at the same time, preferring not to see or hear the difficult times they encounter as they fulfill society’s demands on them.  

My other works currently underway are two mystery novels. The Axis is a spin-off of the 1962 movie hit, The Manchurian Candidate. The second work I have in progress is Death By Dying, another mystery novel set in Dallas, Texas. I also have three short stories undergoing their final edits. Come Back Yesterday is a science fiction/mystery set in the Catskills; The Last Outpost is a religious mystery set in a decaying Catholic church in West Texas; and, Pilatus is a religious/mystical novel set in the Swiss Alps. 

Are there any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to share with our CatholicMom.com readers?

A common question I receive from readers is how I can swing through such a wide span of genres in my writing. The answer is simple for me to understand. First, I write what I know and have lived. Second, I find great enjoyment in doing research. And third, I simply enjoy telling stories. And that’s where it all began – telling bedtime stories to our two children.

For additional information, visit www.thomasjnichols.com and be sure to sign the guest book.