“I heard you wrote a book! What’s it about?”
I get awkward and fumble over my answer every time. I’m terrible at the elevator speech! I’ve been told that a writer’s worst nightmare is having to summarize their 250-page project into a one-page synopsis. Well, I think it’s even worse to whittle it down to a 30-second verbal explanation. I’m too close to it. I care too much about subplots, character development, diction, symmetry…
In the coming months I’m going to have to grit my teeth and figure out how to quickly answer that question: “What’s it about?” For now, here are the long answers to your questions from the last post.
How long until we get to hold this baby… I mean book… in our hands?
Likely release in summer 2020, but I don’t have a specific date yet.
What are the next steps now that the contract has been signed?
After the contract was signed, I filled out a lengthy questionnaire about myself, my dreams for the book (cover design, etc.), and ideas for publicity. I sent in my final version of my manuscript with a dedication added to the beginning.
This week the wonderful Hannah Witham is coming up to my house to work on some publicity photos (head shots and more). When I knew I needed photos, it was a no-brainer to ask Hannah. Not only is she an AU alum, but she takes the most gorgeous photos ever. I am *cough* quite a bit older than her usual high school seniors, so we’ll see what kind of magic she can do with this old lady. But seriously… All of you northside Indy families with high schoolers, you MUST check out her work (see link above)
Other than that, most of the next steps are out of my hands! My manuscript will be sent off to an editor, and my cover ideas will be sent to a designer. I know my book is not next in their queue, so it may be awhile before these steps take place. I’ll keep you updated as I learn more!
Can you tell us anything about the book? Genre?
I’m not going to lie… I received the greatest compliment last week, and it made me downright emotional. My dear friend Christian is currently reading my manuscript for me, and she texted:
“It’s like Game of Thrones meets Narnia.”
I. AM. NOT. WORTHY. (but bawling my eyes out because that description means so much to me!)
In other words, it’s fantasy. It’s allegory. It is very much an expression of my Christian faith, but through the lens of a completely different world. Don’t be shocked – the name Jesus does not appear in the book at all. And yet, he is all over every page.
What is the inspiration for this book? How has it changed over the years? Did anything remain constant through the years?
Over a decade ago, I was playing around with the idea of a fantasy world in which the seven deadly sins and the fruits of the spirit were embodied by characters who were battling for control of the world. Over time, this changed due to a lot of factors. First, I just wasn’t inspired by some of the deadly sins, so I took a few creative liberties. I got rid of a few, combined a few and added a few that are not on the Biblical/traditional list but are still what I would see as downfalls of humanity. I’m not trying to say that the traditional list is wrong. I AM saying that a character based on sloth is pretty boring…
The fruits of the spirit were a whole different story. As I tried to create those characters, it became nearly impossible to separate them out. How could I create a character that embodied kindness but was clearly differentiated from patience, gentleness, goodness, and love? It made me think deeply about the fruits of the spirit, how interconnected they are, and how it was foolish for me to try to separate them. So, now the land that was once filled with individual fruits of the spirit is now filled with people who embody them all in a healthy balance.
Another big change is that my original story had characters that were not born and did not die. They were eternal beings. To be honest, that takes away a LOT of suspense from a story. So much of a good story has to do with life-and-death decisions. If my characters could not die, and new characters could not be born, what was the point? No one was in real danger, and there was nothing for them to fight for. Now, my characters are mostly human. They look like humans and behave like humans, with just a few differences.
There is very little that stayed the same since the very beginning. Tovi has always been a character name, but she was originally just one of the fruits of the spirit. She emerged as the main character later in the process. I think that might be the ONLY thing that has stayed totally the same. There are a few chapters that have been around for most of the last decade, but even those are greatly altered. Basically, if you read some of my early manuscripts, you may not recognize it as the same story or even the same world.
Who is your favorite character?
Eryx, hands down. Eryx used to be a background character who fulfilled a specific role in the plot. He represented the deadly sin of wrath, and he was just an angry dude without much depth to his character. Then, one day I was driving down the road and the song A Bad Dream by Keane came on the radio. I was so intrigued and inspired by the melancholy sound and the paradox of being full of hate but tired of fighting. It became the anthem for Eryx, who quickly became my most complicated character in personality and background story.
The Eryx in my book today doesn’t resemble the original background character at all. He is a little bit of a pet of mine. I just can’t let bad things happen to him because I love him too much and he has already been through so much in his life… Sorry, sometimes I forget he isn’t real. Can’t wait for you to meet him!
What is your dream purchase with your first royalty check?
Excellent question, Andrea! First of all, I am a first-time author with a long road to go before this book is anywhere close to successful (successful=I make a few bucks). BUT, in the fun spirit of the question, I think my first purchase with a modest check would be a plane ticket to somewhere in the United States that I’ve never been before… Top bucket list locations are Seattle, the national parks of Utah, a tour of historic New England locations (huge history nerd over here), or a tour of southern locations important to the work and ministry of Dr. King.
How do you explain God in your life?
Ok, Joe. (eye roll with a big smile) To many, this may seem like a very serious question. If only you knew the person who asked it! He’s the absolute best and downright hilarious. I guarantee Joe Fields had a twinkle in his eye and a smiling smirk as he typed this too-deep-to-really-answer-in-a-blog-post question. I hope you all get a chance to know a Joe Fields – official camp dad (to us adult volunteers) and grandpa (to the campers). Joe, we’ll tackle that question the next time we’re drinking our morning coffee on the porch at Camp Pyoca!
Thanks for sending your questions! I can’t wait to share more of this journey with you!