Who is the Muse?
If the third angel is an unexpected blessing on earth, the person who by the very act of your generosity saves you in return, then is the muse the third angel for an artist?
There are those, like Jamie Dunn, the musician in The Third Angel who can't write and is in a desperate search for a muse, who believe a muse is a person who will inspire. There are others, like Frieda, the young woman Jamie is convinced is his muse, for whom experience itself is the muse. The act of living, of being in love, of loss, all work together to help Frieda produce a perfect poem/song.
The greatest writing teacher of the century, Albert J. Guerard, my beloved mentor, believed that every writer and artist has a voice, and that voice is made up of experience, readings, dreams, along with, and most especially, childhood readings and experience. Your childhood is within you. It's part of the muse, subconsciously or consciously. It's in everything you do, part of your imagination's DNA.
All this adds up to another puzzle in The Third Angel:
Who is the boy on the train from London to Edinburgh who helps Lucy return to the living after she witnesses the accident in London?
He's mentioned throughout the book. Later in life, he becomes a great, unique artist. Although he may not have been on that exact train, he often went to Edinburgh as a child to visit relatives. When he was twelve or so he did compose the book he is writing and illustrating while on the train, Anthology, a reworking of the books he loved, including the Alice books. Perhaps Lucy influenced him as well, and years later he wrote about her, perhaps even long after he'd forgotten meeting her. Maybe he only remembered her name and a train ride and the stories he loved which had gotten him through his own troubles with loss and love.
As for me, I found that many people who I had admired and who had influenced me while I was growing up arrived in the pages of The Third Angel, as if they had minds of their own. The music you listen to, the books you read, the paintings you love, all become part of you, and, as an artist or writer, a part of your work.
I was twelve when I went to the Plaza Hotel and waited outside with hundreds of other fans in the mad hope that we might catch a glimpse that boy on the train. Every time a curtain moved, we all screamed, hopeful. My mother took me there, she was that sort of person, as much a friend as a mother, a fan of the boy on the train as well. We stood outside the Plaza until it became clear the hotel employees were at the windows, shaking the curtains, having their fun with the fans.
I didn't see him that day, but it really didn't matter. My mother and I went for coffee somewhere on Fifth Avenue.
"To hell with it," she said to me. "Let's just imagine we saw him."