I completed three drafts of my novel before I realized that the best way to tell the story was through a first-person narrator. Daniel Peters is both the novel’s main character and its constant point-of-view. I hope readers find him interesting and sympathetic. I did, of course, while I was writing The Stages. But I also found him, at times, irritating, stubborn, self-absorbed, childish, goofy, and melodramatic. Still, fundamentally, I liked him, and I trusted him to tell the story in his own way.
Part of Daniel’s “way” stems from his being an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. He is socially awkward, prefers isolation, has difficulty reading the signs that everyone else seems to get. And his interests are severely limited. Essentially he cares about two things: his work translating the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and solving the mystery of who killed his former girlfriend. He doesn’t have time for much else. He hates chit-chat. He has a routine he always follows (like dinner in Town Hall Square every night at the same time) and he wishes that murder and burglary hadn’t come along and disturbed his regular pattern.
Throughout the novel Daniel struggles, but in the end he emerges a better person–more generous to others and more grateful for his own life.