Monthly Archives: October 2011

Why do we who write, write?

Why do we who write, write?

Especially we who write fiction, why do we do it?

(I’m now considering myself a ‘fiction writer’? Based on one novel? Well, this is my blog so I guess I’m free to say whatever I want. More or less.)

Enough of that digression. Why do we write these made-up stories?

There are some usual explanations:

  • We have no choice.
  • Therapy.
  • To keep from going crazy.
  • Because we are crazy.
  • For the money (a clinical verification of one’s lost grasp on reality).
  • It’s fun.
  • Curiosity – to see what these characters in our heads are going to do if we let them out.
  • To shine a light on a historical period or our family heritage or some unacknowledged issue.

Just having sat through numerous sessions at the annual International Festival of Authors here in Toronto, I’ve heard variations on all of these reasons from authors with a lot more fiction writing under their belts than I have.

Which got me thinking once again about why I wrote my novel Searching for Gilead. I provide one explanation in the preface “…my attempt to give witness to a series of issues with which I am grappling.”

There is some truth to that, more than a little, actually.

But I don’t think it’s the whole story. Another part of the story, I think, is that I wrote it because I couldn’t or wouldn’t or felt I shouldn’t give voice to certain spirits lurking in the dark corners of my soul. So the solution was to let them out through the mouths and actions of made-up characters.

That probably sounds terribly precious and pretentious.

But as I said, this is my blog so I can get away with it.

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Information on Searching for Gilead is available on my website at

Searching for Gilead can be ordered through your local bookstore or on-line retailers such as,,,,






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Searching for Gilead – Preface

Searching for Gilead

A Novel 


David G. Hallman


Gilead, a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, means “hill of witness.” Searching for Gilead is my attempt to give witness to a series of issues with which I am grappling.

I stumbled onto the name Gilead.

The novel is a story of the interrelationship between two families over a period of three and a half decades—a chronicle of love, laughter, and loss.

Below the story line run difficult questions that don’t have an easy resolution, for me at least. Some of these questions are personal and existential. Others are global and systemic.

Friends of mine, aware that I had begun working on a novel, asked what it was about. I didn’t know how to respond. I started making a list of the problems that I was trying to address in the novel. I played with various words that would describe those issues. I was looking for an acronym, a shorthand way to capture the range of concerns that was coursing through my head and my heart, and then onto the page. What emerged was G-I-L-E-A-D:

God – issues around spirituality and religion in our lives and in our world. 

Injustice – global inequities in power and conflict over resources.

Love – a source of joy and pain for us all.

Environment – threats to the well-being of the Earth and its most vulnerable peoples.

Arts – the role they play as we seek to make sense of our lives and our world. 

Death – our own, and that of those we love.

I do not mean to imply that what you hold in your hands is an explicit discussion of these issues. It is not. Searching for Gilead is a story. It’s just that I am using the story to think through these issues in my own mind.

I began writing what I would come to call Searching for Gilead within weeks of having finished a memoir, August Farewell. The memoir is, obviously, autobiographical. Searching for Gilead is not. What occurs in the novel, related to the main characters’ lives, is a product of my imagination.

Those who know me, and those who have read August Farewell, may see a few parallels between my own personal history and the characters and action in the novel. There will be a temptation to read more into those parallels than is warranted. I caution against it. One of the joys that I am discovering about writing fiction is that I get to make things up. And I have.

David G. Hallman

Toronto, Canada

April 2011

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More details are available on my website at:

Searching for Gilead is available in softcover, hardcover, and e-book by ordering at your local bookstore or through on-line retailers such as:

In the USA:,

In Canada:,

In the UK:  



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