The afternoon sun dappled through the palladium windows in Kirby Parlor at Perkins School of Theology one autumn afternoon a couple years ago. It lit up the rugged, handsome features of an athletic 60 year old man seated in a circle of about 30 young preaching students. He was John Irving, the novelist, author of The World according to Gap, Cider House Rules, and A Prayer for Owen Meany among other novels. He was on campus to do the Tate lectures at SMU and graciously agreed to spend an hour with my preaching students. They provided the topic: What do sermon writing and novel writing have in common?
“Where do you start when you write a novel?” asked one young student.