Vehicles for Grace

Francisco X. Stork

BORN IN MEXICO, Francisco X. Stork moved to Texas with his parents when he was 9. After college he studied Latin American literature at Harvard. Stork then decided to get a law degree, planning to make a living as a lawyer while writing fiction on the side. Many years later, he published the first of his five novels, The Way of the Jaguar. He continues to balance his vocation as a novelist for young adults with a "day job" as a lawyer for a Massachusetts state agency that helps develop affordable housing. Former Sojourners editorial assistant Betsy Shirley, now a student at Yale Divinity School, interviewed Stork last spring at Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Writing.

Betsy Shirley: On your blog you say that every author has a bone to which they return again and again to gnaw. What do you gnaw on?

Francisco X. Stork: The question that characters in my books keep asking themselves is, "Why am I here?" I keep coming back to trying to find some kind of meaning to life and to suffering that keeps people going. All my books center on young people who are questioning themselves in that vein. My first book had a person on death row, the second had a young man with someone out to kill him, and the third one had a boy, Marcelo, who was questioning how he could possibly live in a world of suffering. Those questions of mortality make you a little bit more aware of the preciousness of life.

What have you observed about faith and spiritual curiosity in young people? What scares me about a lot of the young people that I meet is that there's a lot of living on the surface—trying to achieve and to do well on tests and to make sure that you get into a good university to get jobs. So I see a lot of less significant questioning in many young people. Then you get to know them, and you know that those questions still exist. But there's a greater need to conform than there was in the past.

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