I got in touch with the fabulous author and illustrator of The Shadow and the Star. They were kind enough to provide a little of the story behind the creation of this book. Enjoy!
Kay Jen here, the author.
The story came about when Kat (the illustrator) and I were talking about the strange feelings Christmastime stirs in us…there’s this sort of joy and longing that go hand-in-hand. The festivities bring so much happiness, but they also remind us of the loneliness we have to live with, and all the people who’ve left us behind.
One thing Kat said to me really stood out: “Ever since my dad passed away, the house always seems bigger and emptier during Christmas.”
So that’s how the character of this Shadow came about. It’s our loneliness embodied. It follows us around and lingers in the corners, fighting for space in our lives and threatening to overcome us.
And then we pointed our attention back to that One … who strangely enough understood our loneliness when He walked on earth. Going on this journey with Him doesn’t mean all the darkness in our lives is gone, we are simply not overcome by it anymore. Hence the last stanza which is the spirit of the story:
“Now the lights still burn,
but they don’t scare me.
And the road is long,
but it’s no longer lonely.”
It’s really interesting to hear other people’s points of view as some interpret the Shadow as their depression, or the monsters they knew from childhood. Some don’t see Jesus in the story, just whatever hope means to them. Many see Him clearly even though it’s never explicitly explained who He is, and that’s what we were hoping for. I don’t think there are wrong interpretations of the story, but if it can point back to Christ as our hope in the darkness, we’re honoured to tell that story.