How do you celebrate a book that was conceived in drama? With a book and drama a tour of course.
My biblical novel about Christ’s Passion began as a four-act, one-man play over twenty years ago. So when Kregel Publishing released The Soldier Who Killed a King, it logically followed that the original drama should be an integral part of promoting this book across the continent.
With Easter approaching I arranged a Canadian prairie tour that featured eight scheduled events in four prairie cities: Moose Jaw, Regina, and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, and Calgary in Alberta.
Things didn’t get off to a good start.
My flight from Ottawa via Toronto to Regina was uneventful. I arrived on Thursday, March 22nd. My first event was my “Centurion’s Report” drama on Friday evening in Moose Jaw. Moose Jaw is an easy one hour drive from Regina on a four lane divided highway. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, Friday dawned with a howling prairie wind. Soon the wind was accompanied by swirling snow. By mid afternoon blizzard conditions resulted in semi trailer trucks being blown off the highway between Regina and Moose Jaw. Dozens of vehicles were stuck. For safety reasons we decided to cancel the Friday evening event. We make our plans, but sometimes weather overrules.
Book store events did not disappoint.
Saturday dawned clear and cold. At noon I started a four hour book signing event at the Chapters bookstore in Regina. What I like most about these events is the conversations you have with prospective buyers. It’s always fascinating to find the common ground that can lead to a book purchase.
The following week I had two more book signing events at Indigo stores in Saskatoon and Calgary. It’s especially gratifying to meet readers who have already read your book and are there to meet you in person and buy more of your books.
There’s never a dull moment during a dramatization of “The Centurion’s Report.”
On Palm Sunday morning I was at “The Bridge” church in Regina portraying the centurion’s response to Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The tension builds as Marcus Longinus seizes a member of the audience at the close of Act 1, flips a merchant’s table in Act 2, and nails Christ to a wooden cross in Act 3. The resurrection of Jesus in Act 4 results in a personal encounter with our Lord. The action is riveting, and so it should be. This was after all a week of intense, history-changing drama.
It’s always great when you can fit in a bit of family time into a busy schedule.
Monday and Tuesday were spent visiting with my 95-year-old mom in rural Saskatchewan. Despite the advancing years, she is in good health, active and sound of mind. It was also a real treat to spend time with two of my sisters and my brother, as well as a few nieces. A stunning, frosty sunrise greeted us as we set out on our trip from Regina to Churchbridge, SK.Wednesday morning March 28th was the start of the second leg of my tour. This meant picking up a rental car at the Regina airport for the three hour drive to Saskatoon. The remainder of the day was spent meeting with the pastor of Courts of Praise Church as we planned for “The Centurion’s Report” presentation on Good Friday.
For the next three nights I had the good fortune of staying with my nephew Ross and his family. There home is a 20 minute drive west of the city. The Indigo bookstore event on Thursday went very well. But the highlight of the Saskatoon portion of the tour was the Good Friday morning service at Courts of Praise.
The Good Friday service brought together four churches for a presentation of “The Centurion’s Report.” One of the unique features of this presentation was the incorporation of communion between Act 3 and Act 4. It was a very meaningful addition to the drama surrounding Christ’s crucifixion.
Supper with another nephew rounded out the events of a perfect day—a beautiful Good Friday.
Saturday dawned cold and bright. Yes, very cold -25C with a windchill of -35C, but with a bright sunshining the eight hour drive to Calgary was pleasure. I love the wide open prairies and being able to see twenty miles to the horizon and beyond.
In many respects Easter Sunday in Calgary was the highlight of the tour.
Cornerstone Church in Calgary was the biggest audience for “The Centurion’s Report” on this tour It also resulted in the most book sales after the morning service. The same was true of my book signing event at the Indigo store in the afternoon.
But the biggest thrill of the day came when I was introduced to my two stagehands before the Easter morning service. The tallest young man introduced himself as Timothy. I replied, “Wow, that’s my oldest son’s name!” I then turned to the second young man and asked, “And what’s your name?”
He answered, “Joshua.”
I burst out laughing. My second son is named Joshua. My sons, Tim and Josh, have often helped me as stagehands back in Ottawa. I thought the Lord has a great sense of humor. He brought memories of family back on this special resurrection morning. Later that afternoon I sold a copy of The Soldier Who Killed the King to the Burgess family. Burgess is my wife’s maiden name. So in two divine coincidences I was directly reminded of each of my family members on an Easter Sunday 2,000 miles from home.
The drive back to Regina was a visual feast for this prairie boy’s eyes.
I set out for Regina before sunrise on Easter Monday morning. It was still clear and cold, but the nine hour leisurely drive was a treat for the eyes. Cowboy country beckoned, and I couldn’t help but stop for a few photos of the stunning vistas.
It was great to be back in Regina with the Robinson family in whose home I stayed for a large portion of this tour. On Tuesday evening they hosted a “book and drama” party for a few of their friends. Many of these friends had been part of a book study of The Soldier Who Killed a King, which Dr. Robinson led. For them it was a meet-the-author evening, but for me it was a meet the readers event.
Early Wednesday morning my flight left Regina airport. I returned to Ottawa tired, but happy. In total I logged about 5,000 km (3,000 miles) in the air, and 2,200 km (1,350 miles) in ground travel.
What will stay with me are memories of warm smiles and lives touched by the message of the cross.