For me, a novel isn't autobiographical in "real time" - but my life is there, transfigured by fiction. I think of a novel the way analysts deconstruct a dream - the dreamer is every character in his or her dream, including the cat and the dog. Or, think of it this way: Your life is a mirror. You throw it down on the ground. It shatters into thousands of pieces. You can never recreate the mirror as it was, but each piece is still a part of the mirror, a part of the writer's life.
For me, reality in art is a false construct. We are creating life from ink, print, paper and wanting characters to "feel" like flesh and blood. Can you fall in love with a fictional character? Absolutely. Can you detest one? Certainly. Can one renew your faith? I think so.
Here is another clue to the identity of The Third Angel.
At the edge of the woods there was a cave. No one went there. As a matter of fact, the people in my town took the long way, around the woods, just to avoid it. A monster lived inside. He was seven feet tall.
When people began to fall ill they blamed the damp weather, the ruined crops, each other, and then they blamed the monster. I was one of the people who went after him. I had a knife, a lantern, a silver star to protect me from evil. My child had fallen ill. I was filled with something I thought was righteousness. It was thick and poisonous and it led me to the woods with a hundred other righteous men.
I got lost in the dark. I stumbled and the others left me behind. They forgot me. When I called out they couldn't hear me. But something did. The monster came out from a cave. He was a bear, seven feet tall. He had been hunted and had a fear of humans, but I had dropped my lantern, my knife, my star. I had the chance to look into his eyes before the people from town circled around. I imagined the woods without people, our lives without boundaries, the night without fear, the town without sick children, the world where we could live together. I turned to the people I had known all my life.
Imagine, I said.