Needham Author’s ‘Altared’ Reality

April 22, 2024
• In his newest fantasy novel, author Edward Eaton suggests it is not easy being all-powerful.

Edward Eaton’s love for classic literature immersed him in epic tales of ancient Greece, which frequently mention the gods — characters speculate about the gods’ intentions, and the gods themselves interfere along the journey, for better or worse.

But so often in those sagas, “we never really hear about the gods’ side of the story,” Eaton said.

Across time, people have acted in ways to appease a higher power, and Eaton said he aims to tackle the spiritual, philosophical questions that come with that — all through the eyes of a god.

“We may need God or not, but God certainly doesn’t need us,” Eaton, of Needham, said, “or if God does need us, then he’s hardly a god, is he?”

His latest novel, “An Empty God,” follows a young god named Dravpruk as he retells his dealings with man, “who throws a wrench into everything,” Eaton said. The literary fantasy work was published late last month by Dragonfly Publishing.

Eaton’s passion for storytelling originated on the stage. His background in theater led him to direct a group of young actors about 15 years ago, when he struggled to find a play he liked that they could perform. He decided to, instead, write his own: “Orpheus and Eurydice.”

After a small publisher later took the verse drama to print, Eaton said it “gave me the bug.” He went on to write a magical young adult trilogy, “Rosi’s Doors,” as well as a story following a sentient bubble titled, “Toh’s Saga.” He teaches English at MassBay Community College and tutors students for standardized testing and college essay writing.

In writing his latest venture, Eaton spent several years envisioning a world of satyrs, trolls and mythological beings on the top floor of his Needham Heights home. It was there he wrote the play “First Love, Last Love,” which was staged via Zoom with Needham Community Theatre in October 2020.

Though his novel takes place outside of reality, Eaton said he may have taken some inspiration much closer to home.

“One of the things I often do is, not consciously, but unconsciously, I cast characters. Now, this casting might be my next-door neighbor, or it might be Tom Cruise,” Eaton said. “Whatever somebody brings to the character, I think there’s a certain personality, there’s a certain role in my story.”

In approaching the book’s existentialism, Eaton said his own religious upbringing played a role — with faith comes doubt, and Eaton said his work could be “an expression of a lot of things that I had often wondered.”

“An Empty God,” however, asserts gods exist, and Dravpruk learns that “man is needy and demanding” and can’t answer everyone’s prayers, Eaton said.

“He helps them when he can, but he doesn’t try to drop huge miracles on things [because] then everybody expects a miracle to happen. If all of a sudden the crops appear, why ever farm?” he said. “I suppose there’s a lesson there. It’s a lesson to people, whether they have faith in a God or in something or even a government, [that] God’s job is not to give handouts.”

Eaton already drafted a thriller, and when his wife takes her annual summer trip to Bulgaria, he plans to write for long stretches of the day. He hopes his latest work — and future ones — will one day be added to the Needham Public Library’s collection.

“I have dozens of story ideas,” he said, “I just have to keep one as my next big project and get that down.”

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