Eldritch: What defines family?

I think that one of the things about these stories is the balance between chosen and biological families. As young people come into the world on their own, like Joshua and Caleb, depicted in the ELDRITCH Tales, there is a community that builds with people we feel safe with and might have life long lasting relationships. That, in itself, can become a whirlwind while a young adult tries to figure out the depths and turns of interpersonal relationships and how far they can stretch. 


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Joshua Sean Daugherty

Biologically speaking, Joshua comes from a very dysfunctional space. This is how the book starts off. He basically lost both his parents, but is taken in by a family friend. While Book 1 and 2 dive into the relationship somewhat, it has a tremendous impact on Joshua. Meanwhile, Caleb had a similar origin as well, but dealt with it in a very different vein. Biological relationships are tricky, scary, and are sometimes uncertain. Friends and people surviving beside you make amazing allies.

Caleb Obidemi

Chosen family, like friends from school, or maybe your neighbors, exist in the flow of your life and have to be people you can trust because so much relies on your own personal safety around them. Joshua and Caleb are healthy young men finding their place in the world and become extremely close. Their friendship is platonic and supportive, without the unnecessary intimacy of physicality. It does come into question at a certain point, as Joshua is discovering who he is in his life as a young man. For Caleb, it is never a question, because he has a better sense of self that Joshua is still exploring. 

As the author of this story, part of my background is that I came from a horribly dysfunctional set of parents and a childhood where my memories of my biological family were very dark. I think this reflects in the book, especially in Joshua’s relationship with his dad, who is released from prison near the beginning of the story. Paternal figures here seem to take quite a beating, but that is often the nature of a father-son relationship in my opinion. 

And sexuality really has nothing to do with the story, but I keep in mind that Joshua would probably identify as either asexual or even pansexual. Which means he is not really sex-driven, but more of a romantic mindset. And, he seems to really gravitate toward people he trusts. Coming from his background where his parental relationships were so unreliable it is understandable. His friendships and that trusted circle is the most important thing in the world to him. 

Joshua has to start is biological family relationships all over, including his dad’s reemergence, and meeting surprising relatives that he intersects with in very unsettling ways. He really grows through the three books. 

What’s so special about Trinity Church?

Trinity Church circa 1920

Check out https://trinitywallstreet.org/ to get the history and details of this great site. What makes this church so special? Well, it is one of the oldest churches in the United States and is the home of a few very famous names from American history. One of whom is Andrew Jackson. 

Well, we know Andrew Jackson is a famous, yet problematic figure, from the core of U.S. history. 

Andrew Jackson, was one of the most influential people of his time. His strong-willed attitude and cruel ambition toward perfecting the American government, in his presidency from 1829 to 1837, created a powerful stance for Jackson and the opinions about him. – edubirdie

Andrew Jackson is no longer very popular, and many of his values are no longer ours. His vision of the “people” had no room for people of color. Some of his attacks on eastern financial elites were a continuation of the Jeffersonian attacks on urban, nationalist, Hamiltonian principles. Jackson’s populism was thus a Trojan horse for pro-slavery, pro-states- rights interests. He was a wealthy slaveholder himself, with no qualms about African-American bondage and deep hostility to abolitionism. – SmithsonianMag

Why focus on Andrew in the scope of this awesome church? Well, there is a huge shadow plucked from history when it came to how African Americans backs were used to build so much of the country, but the history of this church in New York City was a part of that story. 

In New York City, where as much as 20% of its population was once enslaved, the original street of Broadway, the wall that gave Wall Street its name, historic restaurant and bar Fraunces Tavern and Trinity Church were all built using slave labor. – Reuters

“All of the original built environment in New York basically was built with the labor of enslaved people,” said Louise Mirrer, the head of the New York Historical Society. – Reuters

Why Trinity?

Trinity Church of New York was an important site during the American Revolution and the founding era of the United States of America. Originally founded under the charter of King William III of England in 1697, the church has Dutch roots preceding this date, when New York was still known as New Amsterdam. (source MountVernon.Org

Trinity Church, consecrated on Ascension Day 1846, is considered one of the first and finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. With a 281-foot high steeple, Trinity was the tallest building in New York City until 1890. – TrinityWallstreet.Org

It is an amazing space with a rich history and a troubled origin as noted above. Today tourist can visit the site and participate in frequent services. But what drew me to it for ELDRITCH was the visual side of it, but the compelling history was too rich to use a different church. No, even though one of the characters in my story is the Catholic Church/Vatican, Trinity has nothing to do with them. It works in the story giving the Vatican deniability in harboring of a dirty secret hiding in the basement of the ancient church. 

Those problematic notes and the majesty of this location are background to some intrigue that plays out throughout the book. None of it is preachy by any means, but it is a mirror of modern society and how far we have come. And how far we have not come. 

A Critical Moment: Meet Maggie

Margaret Sue-Ellen Jackson was visiting from North Carolina, on a tour of Americas great churches in the Northeast. She is a woman dedicated to her Baptist Church’s celebration of of her Christian beliefs. She was a very special woman who was sensitive to the pain of other people. She discovered the dirty secret hiding in the basement of the Trinity, just past the crypts below, setting something loose on the world that was game changing. 

(Margaret Sue-Ellen Jackson is a fictional character a the basement of the Trinity Church is a fascinating space, but I took some creative license with what is actually down there.)