Lliteras, D.S. 1949–
Lliteras, D.S. 1949–
Born July 13, 1949, in New York, NY; son of Frank and America Lliteras; married Kathleen Touchstone (an economist, educator, and writer), August 13, 1971. Education: Florida State University, B.A., 1973, M.F.A., 1976.
Home—Virginia Beach, VA; Montgomery, AL.
Writer. Norfolk Fire Department, Norfolk, VA, professional firefighter, 1986—; worked as a theatrical director, stage manager, actor, college instructor, and merchant sailor. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, combat hospital corpsman, 1967-70. U.S. Navy, diving and salvage officer, 1981-85, became lieutenant; received Bronze Star (with combat V).
Medal of Honor, Norfolk Fire Department.
In the Heart of Things, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 1992.
Into the Ashes, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 1993.
Half Hidden by Twilight, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 1994.
The Thieves of Golgotha, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 1998.
Judas the Gentile, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 1999.
613 West Jefferson, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 2001.
Jerusalem's Rain, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 2003.
The Silence of John, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 2005.
The Master of Secrets, Hampton Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA), 2006.
In a Warrior's Romance (poetry and photographs), Hampton Roads Publishing (Norfolk, VA), 1991.
Work represented in anthologies, including Road to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun, Charles E. Tuttle; Wind Five-Folded, AHA Books; and Four Seasons, Ko Poetry Association. Contributor of poetry and short stories to periodicals, including Poetry Nippon, Modern Haiku, Wide Open Magazine, Parnassus Literary Journal, Piedmont, Chiron Review, Live Wire Press, Viet Nam War Generation Journal, and Literary Review.
Some of Lliteras's novels have been translated into Russian, Japanese, and Italian.
The novel In the Heart of Things was adapted as the screenplay Walking Shadows.
D.S. Lliteras's The Thieves of Golgotha details the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth from the perspective of the two thieves who died at his side. Nikos is a Greek who was sold as a slave to the Romans by his father. Azriel is an agnostic Galilean. The pair kill a man during a robbery, and both are sentenced to death. While in prison, they meet Bartholomew, a follower of Jesus, whose faith causes Nikos and Azriel to question their own absence of faith. Also in the prison is Barabbas, whose release later enables Jesus to accomplish his destiny. Nikos and Azriel watch Pilate's trial and suffer their own torture before they meet Jesus at Golgotha and die beside him. Melissa Hudak, in reviewing The Thieves of Golgotha in Library Journal, noted that expanding on a biblical story "is always a risky proposition," but felt that Lliteras's characterizations of the thieves and of Jesus, Bartholomew, and Barabbas are "fully rounded." Kristen De Deyn Kirk, who interviewed Lliteras for Port Folio Weekly, praised the "quick and believable dialogue" in The Thieves of Golgotha. "The book is much more than what I believe," Lliteras told De Deyn Kirk. "Two very ordinary men, caught in one of Western civilization's great epic events. Whether you're Christian or non-Christian, you've been influenced by this story on some fundamental level. It happens to be a biblical story in that historical context, but it is a mainstream contemporary story. These are two people who don't even know this is supposed to be a religious event. This is before Christianity."
After the generally favorable reception of his first novel, Lliteras embarked on another, then another, and soon had a loosely connected series of novels that have been dubbed his "Crucifixion novels." Judas the Gentile portrays the much-maligned betrayer of Jesus as he reaps the psychological reward of his action. His guilt leads to an internal quest for self-understanding, and his near-death at the hands of a quasi-revolutionary group of Jews spurs the belated realization that the man he betrayed was indeed the son of God. Jerusalem's Rain follows the disciples of Jesus in the frightening, surreal hours immediately after the crucifixion. The men wander the streets in shock, and their irrational jibes at one another reflect their inner turmoil. Peter, the denier of Jesus, emerges as the focus of Lliteras's attention, as the disciple's torment is transformed by the vision of Jesus into a rebirth of faith and hope for the future. The Silence of John explores the disciple who neither betrayed nor denied, but is tormented instead by his silence at the foot of the cross. Lliteras also looks at the women whose lives crossed the path of Jesus. This novel, like Lliteras's earlier works, was praised for the realistic, detailed picture it offers of daily life, dress, and habits in biblical times. The Master of Secrets is the story of a boy named Addan, who happened to witness the crucifixion, and his adventures with the swindler Jeshua, who represents the very opposite of Jesus. Like the protagonists of the other novels, Addan's misbehaviors at the direction of Jeshua prompt a crisis of faith that, in this case, nudge the boy toward maturity and wisdom.
There is another side to Lliteras's creative portfolio. Three of his earlier novels, beginning with In the Heart of Things, reflect his own military experiences during the war in Vietnam in the 1960s. He revived those experiences in the novel 613 West Jefferson. The title describes the dilapidated apartment house in Tallahassee where Vietnam veteran and transient Rick Santo has parked his car. The novel observes the marginal lives of his compatriots—prostitutes, thieves, and drug dealers, for the most part—who lure Santo into their dark and illegal world. His adventures in the drug trade alternate with flashbacks to his combat experiences in Vietnam as the story builds to a horrific climax. Like the protagonists of the "Crucifixion novels," Santo faces a moral crisis that could, if he makes the right decisions, lead to redemption.
Lliteras once told CA: "After years of studying and working in the performing arts as an actor, director, and playwright, I discovered that writing fiction provided me with the greatest range of artistic expression. I write with many purposes in mind. However, high on that list is my desire to actively engage the reader in a story that I hope reveals a truth, in the manner that only fiction can achieve." Speaking about the influences on his writing, Lliteras said, "There are many fiction writers who have influenced me in varying degrees. But in my very early years, I was predominantly influenced by playwrights, especially the following: Shakespeare, Sophocles, Moliere, Chekhov, Ibsen, O'Neill, Brecht, Williams, Miller, Hellman, and Inge." He offered this advice to aspiring writers: "Never act on a new idea. Not until you have rejected this idea for months and, at the same time, have accumulated notes and illuminations concerning this idea. Only through continued rejection and the passage of time can you dare to accept your idea as an inspiration capable of carrying you through the years that are often required to complete a novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2001, John Mort, review of 613 West Jefferson, p. 1354; March 1, 2003, John Mort, review of Jerusalem's Rain, p. 1146; January 1, 2005, John Mort, review of The Silence of John, p. 818; January 1, 2007, John Mort, review of The Master of Secrets, p. 58.
Library Journal, June 1, 1998, Melissa Hudak, review of The Thieves of Golgotha p. 94; June 1, 2003, Tamara Butler, review of Jerusalem's Rain, p. 102; February 1, 2005, review of The Silence of John, p. 62; February 1, 2007, Tamara Butler, interview of the author, p. 58.
Port Folio Weekly, June 9-15, 1998, Kristen De Deyn Kirk, interview of the author, pp. 21-22.
Publishers Weekly, Marcy 2, 1998, review of The Thieves of Golgotha, p. 61; July 26, 1999, review of Judas the Gentile, p. 66; February 26, 2001, review of 613 West Jefferson, p. 60; January 8, 2007, review of The Master of Secrets, p. 34.