Tobias and the Angels

Based on a book from the Bible, the Book of Tobit, my young adult novel, Tobias and the Angels, is retold in a setting of 1871 southern California. Tobit’s eighteen-year-old son Tobias Zepeda, accompanied by his Spanish mastiff, Cherub, and a mysterious Friar Raphael, undertakes a trip from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to retrieve the money that will save the Zepeda ranch from foreclosure. Tobias also plans to continue on to San Gabriel to aid his childhood friend, Sarah.

Sarah has always been in love with Tobias, but he refused to move to San Gabriel and become a farmer so she married a local farm boy, Henry.

Henry, married for about one hour, is killed on the way from the mission chapel to the wedding feast. The unknown killer is a sniper who kills any man or boy showing an interest in Sarah. Some of the townspeople believe she’s been cursed by God, and she sinks into a life-threatening depression.

While riding from Los Angeles to San Gabriel, Tobias and the friar happen upon a runaway Chinese girl, Chun Loie, who is fleeing the Los Angeles brothel she’d been sold to. They disguise her in a friar’s robe to hide her from bounty hunters. They take her to the Mission San Gabriel Archangel. There the mysterious Deputy Ash, a CSA veteran, refuses to help bounty hunters wanting to capture the runaway, eventually killing one who assaulted Sarah and seized Chun Loie.

At the Mission San Gabriel Archangel, Tobias and the friar, aided by Father Leclecq, Don Corinto and his son, Alfredo, discover the identity of the serial sniper while fending off bounty hunter attempts to kidnap Chun Loie. During this series of events, Tobias aids Sarah in coming out of her depression while discovering he loves Sarah and wants to marry her.

In regards to the above five paragraph synopsis for Tobias and the Angels: This might be used for cover letters sent to publishers and agents. He doubts if he can reduce a meaningful synopsis down to one paragraph. It would be easier to preface the pitch with reasons to reject the novel but then he’d have to have an inkling of what each publisher and agent truly dislikes in a novel. Though an inkling derived list consisting of specifics instead of generalities would be very, very long. Generalities usually are: No westerns, no historical novels, no Christian, and so on. Specifics would be: No Spanish mastiffs, no Franciscan friars, no mention of the Santa Susana Pass, no quotations from books exclusive to the Catholic Bible, and so on.

The Amazon ad for the book (two five-star ratings by the way, check it out) had to be limited to even less than the proverbial forty-words-or-less. JM isn’t particularly fond of that ad’s blurb either.

Amazon’s thumbnail ad for the book reads:

This novel moves the Bible’s Book of Tobit to 1871 California. A priest, a young man and his childhood girlfriend rescue a child from sex slavery.

JM regrets the sex slavery mention and wants prospective readers to know that the girl was rescued, virginity intact, from the threat of a lifetime of prostitution.

The image accompanying the Jan 21st post is a painting, Tobias and the Angel, by Andrea del Verrocchio, and you can read more about it at Wikipedia. There you will learn that the painting is actually from the cited painter’s workshop and in that workshop worked a certain Leonardo da Vinci who is thought by some experts to have painted the fish and the dog.

JM doesn’t know who is responsible for Saint Raphael Archangel’s wings, but it can be argued that they don’t belong in the painting because in the Book of Tobit, the archangel keeps his true identity hidden until the end of the story. In fact, he gives Tobit and Tobias a false name, a bit of subterfuge that must be somehow justified by Christian theology. JM needs to learn the justification from his pastor,  Father Martini, or from Deacon Mike of the same parish.