Are you BoneMan’s Daughter?

April 13, 2009

The release of BoneMan’s Daughters is upon us. The one question I am asked at nearly every interview is, “What inspired you to write this novel?” My answer is nearly always the same, I write to explore.

But BoneMan’s Daughters has a unique story behind it: The unnerving story of my own daughter.

Now, I would like to think that I am a good father. That I have raised each of my children in the way they should go, and given them freedom to make their own choices once they have enough of a sense of the world not to be crushed. But when my daughter began to fall for this one particular creep at the tender age of sixteen, I began to sweat.

No one else saw him as a creep, mind you. He was the kid at her birthday party who could break-dance and smile ever so charmingly. He seemed kind and thoughtful and all of the girls thought he was, for lack of a better word, hot.

I don’t know, maybe it was the way he kept looking at me with piercing eyes, or the way he yelled at me when I asked him not to date my daughter (go figure) but this kid scared me.

Fast forward two years. It was three days before Christmas. I’d learned that my daughter, now eighteen and in college, was madly in love with this boy. By this point I was certain that the kid was not only a punk, but truly dangerous. He’d yelled at me on numerous occasions. He’d told me I had no right to my daughter. He’d threatened my family.

But most of all, this kid, now twenty, had won the heart of my daughter and for that I began to hate him. My anger was directed at him, not my daughter, you see, because he was the monster and she was my precious baby and the fact that he’d found a way to seduce her was infuriating.

And that night… that night three days before Christmas, everything came apart, because that night my daughter informed the family that she was leaving our home to live with this monster. There are six of us in the family; five of us stood there at the door, crying, while the monster led the sixth out the front door. I can still see his face—he was carrying her suitcase and he was smiling.

But what could I do? My wife and I, and the other children had all begged her not to go with him. But, like a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, she had given her heart and mind to the monster, unable to see his fangs.

LeeAnn and I tried to comfort our other children. Our youngest, only a small child at the time, was devastated and we couldn’t stop her weeping. For hours she cried and hiccupped and all we could do was hold back our own tears for her sake while we held her.

Then, like the twin dead, we walked to our own room, closed the door, fell on our bed, and sobbed. And we sobbed.

For the next two months our bedroom was the weeping place. The monster had our child and there was nothing I could do about it. I talked to the police, I called all of our friends, I dialed the FBI, and I would have called the President if I thought it might help. I begged our daughter to reconsider every time I talked to her, but it was her life and I could only pray that she came to herself before he destroyed her.

It stuck me then that I would do anything to save my daughter. Anything. And every time I thought about the monster my outrage at his seduction grew. In my mind he was BoneMan. My daughter was now BoneMan’s Daughter!

In the end all I could do was stare at my blank computer screen for hours, lost in desperation. I knew then that I had to discover the meaning behind this terrible love I had for my daughter through a fully fleshed story. I had to write a story that made absolute certain in the mind of every daughter how precious they are to the father.

My pain was intensely personal and I needed to understand that pain in the context of every father who loses a daughter, be it in Iraq or in Hollywood or in Colorado. Even more I had to grasp that same pain in the context of my own Father’s love for me. Is this how God loves each of his children?

I still remember the day the call came. It was my daughter. She was crying so hard she could hardly get the words out. She wanted to come, oh how badly she wanted to come home, she’d wanted to come home for weeks, could we please, please take her back? Heaven filled our home that day.

And then we learned the terrible truth. The monster had abused her. That devil had crushed her! She was too ashamed to call, too proud to come home, but she’d laid awake in bed many nights crying for home.

Four years have passed and now, two months before the day Rachelle is to marry a man we love, she will tell you that she was snatched out of hell itself that day. I cringe to think what might have happened. And I cringe to think what goes through the mind of a father who has lost his daughter forever.

Not since writing When Heaven Weeps following the death of my brother many years ago have I written such a personal story as BoneMan’s Daughters. I’ve dedicated it to Rachelle, but this love story is for you. For every daughter, every son, every father, every mother.

Read the novel. Then go to your daughter, your father, your son, your mother, hold them close, and cherish them forever.

*P.S. Read the latest poll on the home page and leave your comments. This one’s for all of us.

P.P.S. You can hear Ted tell this story during his interview on the Laura Ingraham Show. Click HERE to listen to it now.

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