Author Answers: What is a “Vassal Fruit”?

When I released The Curse of the Vassal Fruit a few months ago, the local paper interviewed me about it. The first question I was asked was: “What is a vassal fruit?” That was not the last time I was asked that question, and I suspect it’ll be a recurring question. I want to explain a bit about writing the book before I give an answer. There are a few things I did as I was preparing and writing my novel. One of the most fruitful was reading books on writing. Over the last 2 years, I have read dozens of books on prose, structure, symbolism, plot, and just about every other element of writing you can think of. One of my favorite was by Thomas C. Foster: How to Read Literature Like a Professor. From that book, I gained a great deal of insight into symbolism and allegory. I didn’t apply everything, but it changed my perspective on how to write. The second most influential books I read in preparation for writing my novel were The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Lord of the Rings. Both are allegorical stories depicting the Biblical fall and redemption. I love these themes, not just because I am a minister, but because they are great stories. Stories where the hero sacrifices himself to save those he loves are powerful. In CS Lewis’s book, it’s Turkish Delight. Edmund eats the candy and is enslaved to the White Witch. In Tolkien’s work, it’s the ring that enslaves anyone who wears it. I knew I wanted a betrayal at a coronation and initially was going to write it as a brother betraying the family, but the three books persuaded me to take a different approach. Turkish Delight and the ring represent the fall, which originally took place as a result of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I opted to write it a bit more obvious, kinda taking the CS Lewis route instead of the Tolkien approach. I wanted a fruit with a curse that enslaved folks who ate it. A quick visit with the thesaurus gave me “vassal” and the rest was easy. So, having made a short answer long: The curse of the vassal fruit is the fall of man, enslaving them to the whims of evil. The symbols are a bit more obvious in the sense that the victims are tricked into consuming the fruit as a part of becoming kings, which was the promise made to Eve. “If you eat it, you will be like God…” 

My amazing wife sometimes comments on the silliness of literary analysis from English class in high school. I recall her saying more than once that maybe the symbols are just what they are and not symbols at all. Perhaps it’s just a story. So, this was all an effort to troll her by making the story all symbols.

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