An Interview with novelist T. M. Doran | IPNovels.com
T. M. Doran’s third novel from Ignatius Press, Iota, has just been published. The story of a man imprisoned by the Communist Russian “liberators” of Prague following World War II, Iota has been hailed as a dark and gripping exploration of themes such as conscience, guilt, complicity, and innocence. It is available now in hardcover and e-book.
The author recently spoke with Ignatius Press Novels via e-mail.
Many people shared their reminiscences this past weekend as the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was commemorated. Though the majority of your novel takes place during the early Communist era, it is bookended with the dismantling of the Wall. How did that event effect you—any particular memories?
Doran: I have a keen interest in the period of history when the Wall went up, along with the events that led up to it going back to World War II. Hiking through Europe as a college student, I remember that visiting Eastern Europe was out of the question. I was amazed at how suddenly the Wall came down, and how peacefully. Most of Iota takes place when walls and cages were going up, while the backdrop of the Wall coming down complemented what was going on inside the characters in that scene.
Jan Skala is conflicted about acts he was forced to do while living under Nazi occupation, and is now being forced into a position where he is being pressured to act against his conscience by the Communists. In a time where we are once again asking ourselves if the state should have any restraint upon itself upon consciences, what do you hope readers might learn from your novel?
Doran: What Jan and some of the others experienced can be considered a severe examination of conscience, something that doesn’t occur for many until a catastrophe is experienced and we are compelled to look at the most essential things. How could Jan be honest with others if he refuses to be honest with himself? As to states and conscience, they will do whatever they can, and must be regulated by people of conscience, or oppression becomes the norm.
In the prison where Jan is kept, he tries to connect with the others in captivity. But it is hard to know who to trust, and who is telling the truth about themselves. What do you think the loss of trust does to society?