About the Book
Tom desperately tries to battle his doubts and fears about death, abandonment, and loneliness while struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, acute anxiety, and crippling depression. He writes prose and poetry in his journal as an attempt to cope. And he tries, unsuccessfully, to keep this internal conflict from becoming known to his family and friends by trying to keep up appearances. But the tiny thread keeping his hope alive inevitably snaps. And he becomes in desperate turmoil. Imagine if the glue that keeps everything dear to you comes loose, threatening your destruction. Wouldn’t you desperately try all you could to put your life back together? When this happens to the young Obsessive-Compulsive Tom Jolmen, he clings to his last hope. Tormented by a shadowy presence, Tom runs away to find his Christmas hero, St Nicholas. Join him, his sports-loving brother, Nate, and their new-found companions: the conflicted Brendan and antagonistic Paul on their quest. The adventure goes amiss. But with the aid of their guardian angels this failed attempt helps resolve their doubts and strengthen their faith as they discover the real truth about themselves.
What People have been Saying!
“In St. Nick’s Journey, Keith Mayhew-Hammond takes us on a strange and magical journey through a land as close as down the street, and as far as imagination can conceive. Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s ability to make an unusual point of view seem normal to the reader, Hammond gives us a taste of the horror and wonder that his Aspergered and OCD’d hero perceives in a way that makes the reader wonder if he himself is losing something not having those conditions. But he does so in such a way as to make it all seem very natural. Moreover, while both the protagonist’s handicaps and youth might, in less deft hands, be used to explain away the enchantment and numinosity of the journey the four friends undertake, Hammond uses them to create a breathtaking Christmas masterpiece.”
—Charles A. Coulombe, author of Vicars of Christ and Puritan’s Empire
“An impetuous quest for much-loved Saint Nicholas by four boys struggling with the mystery of faith and neurological and social issues, St. Nick’s Journey is related with verve and insight. On their journey the boys experience the reality of Catholic belief in angels, the communion of saints, and the Holy Eucharist. A compelling first novel from an imaginative and talented young writer.”
—Arthur Bousfield, author of Home to Canada: Royal Tours 1786–2010
“To the best of my discernment, this novel conveys only the most traditional and exact teaching of the magisterium of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church.”
—Alexander Roman, Oblate of Saint Benedict of Saint Meinrad’s Archabbey
Questions about the Novel
What’s the Book about in only Seven Words? Challenge Accepted!
- Anxiously seeking heaven without a sound mind.
What stories would you say match the company of your novel in theme and tone?
- Homesick, by Jason Walz
- Shadow in the Dark, by Antony Barone Kolenc
- Will Wilder, the book series, by Raymond Arroyo
- Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
- A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
- The Book of Tobit
- The Children of Green Knowe, by Lucy M. Boston
- Voyage to Venus (aka Perelandra), by C.S. Lewis
What are some words or phrases you would use to describe the themes in your book?
- crippling doubts
- Communion of Saints
- hope of Christmas
- true friendship
- preferential love
What is the intended audience and demographic for your novel?
My intended audience when writing the story was Catholic Christian young adult males between the ages of 14 and 25, especially those who either struggle with depression, anxiety, mental-illness, or know someone who does. It was likewise intended for readers who have a keen interest in the Saints and Angels and how they interact with us in our daily lives.
Nevertheless, I have had people from the ages of 25 to 100, both male and female, tell me how appealing they found this tale – finding it to be quite engaging, alluring, and relatable.
We all remember our childhood and youth, and the difficulties and joys that come with such time periods in our life. That’s why I believe that such a wide range of people have been so captivated by this story.
Will there be a sequel?
I’m so glad you asked. St. Nick’s Journey is the first installment in the Suffering Souls of Awahso book series. Each story will be a stand alone episode, using different characters. But they will be connected by the same city of Awahso. And each book will have some sort of Easter egg that connects it to the other characters in one way or another.
Will only religious people like this story?
The short answer is that I personally don’t think so. Somewhat surprisingly, I have been asked this question a lot. I will let the readers speak for themselves, since everyone has their own taste and opinion. However, I will say that I have gained positive feedback from several readers that did not share my Catholic faith, who said they, genuinely, liked the book very much.
Here’s a bit of a longer approach answer for those who want an in depth answer:
It is of course a staunchly Catholic novel. There’s no point in trying to hide that or pretend that it’s not the case. I don’t think that a devout Catholic could write a story without his beliefs hugely influencing the themes and ideas. Even with less direct stories, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the Catholic morality and philosophy is rampant. But it is nonetheless still enjoyed by non-Catholics. Likewise, someone does not have to be a pious Christian to love C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series.
Why is this? It’s because Tolkien and Lewis did not write a sermon but a story. I think sometimes authors try to cut and paste a sermon into the template of a novel, but it doesn’t work. A sermon is a sermon, and a story is a story. They are two different avenues. But both can be religiously themed and inspired (although I’ve heard a few non-religiously inspired sermons).
There are Christian authors who seem too afraid to mention anything about their faith in their stories. I don’t want to judge anyone. But that is not what I wanted to do. My faith is such a big part of my life that it would be impossible to keep it out of my stories. And in fact it is my faith that inspired me to write more.
In conclusion, it is a deeply Catholic story. Yet it is not preachy (not a sermon); and, it likewise does not pander to people. Whether you are religious or not, if you think the story sounds interesting, than I’d love for you to give it a try. And I welcome constructive feedback from all readers.
Why did you write this novel?
Well, not to complain, but I found my adolescence and youth to be very challenging – more than some and less than others. But with the great difficulty that I faced, I learned and grew a lot. I think there is a reason that the way to heaven is known as the narrow path. Struggle gives us the opportunity to grow closer to God and to others; especially considering how many struggles Christ went through for us.
One thing I learned in particular was to try and avoid dwelling too much internally on my own sorrows (I’m sure we can all relate). By instead meditating on Jesus’ sufferings it brings us outside of ourselves. And by charitably consoling Christ He returns the favour. And Jesus likewise promises us that when we do good works for others we are actually showing kindness to Jesus Himself. I still need to work on that part – but perhaps recognizing it is half the battle.
Anyway, I wanted to take some of what I learned from my struggles, and share it with others in the form of a fictional story. I hope that those who share or shared the same kind of issues as me might be able to learn from the mistakes and victories written about, or at least find them entertaining. It is also my desire to teach others about the challenges and joys that can come with Asperger’s, OCD, depression, panic attacks, social phobia, bullying, and other related issues. And telling a captivating story is the best way that I know how to accomplish that goal.
Where can I purchase your book?
I’m so glad you asked. You can get a copy of St. Nick’s Journey from one of these stores:
Where can I find out more about your publisher?
The book, St. Nick’s Journey, is under the Resource Publications imprint at Wipf and Stock Publishers. You can find out more about them on their website, wipfandstock.com. Or take a short cut by clicking the “click me” button below, which will open up a new tab.