Anyone ever dare you to write a novel? I love hearing some of the unique and even off the wall ways novelist are inspired to write a story. Today I have one of the authors from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas who shares how she wrote her new book, Celebration! on a dare from her college students! Thanks to Kay Moser for being a guest blogger.
What prompted you to write your first novel, Celebration!?
My literature students at Baylor University dared me to write a novel. They wanted to read a contemporary novel, so I began to search for a book with excellent writing, but without gratuitous violence, sexual scenes and offensive language. When I reported back that I could not find an acceptable book, they informed me that “great literature has to have graphic violence, intimate sexual scenes, and vulgar/profane language to be great.” We debated the issue, of course, and they dared me to write a book to prove my point that novels with deep, realistic themes do not need offensive material to be authentic.
I took their dare and quickly wondered if I had lost my mind!
Did you begin with theme or character or conflict or plot?
After my initial panic subsided, I began to search for a theme. Essentially I watched the people around me and prayed and looked into my own life and prayed some more. Everyone I knew—college students, colleagues, friends, family, even me—everyone was struggling with major problems. I began to see that most of those problems were based on the fact that we felt we had to earn our worth.
We all live in a “people-are-only-consumers” culture, so we are always searching for something outside of ourselves that will make us feel worthy. Some of us obsess about our physical appearance and material possessions; others obsess about our professional accomplishments; still others obsess about the success level of our families, particularly our children. The list goes on and on…… No matter how much we do, how many people we please, we can’t seem to do enough. Women especially seem to be driven to feel unworthy.
Okay. I decided I had a theme. People try to earn their worth when, in fact, their worth is intrinsic. They are born worthy because God made them worthy from inception.
Now I just needed a character who could/would learn this great truth and turn her life around.
Enter Rachel D’Evereau. She is a modern woman who has, in fact, accomplished much in her life. She’s also beautiful and has plenty of money. Still, she feels worthless. Where is her sense of worthlessness coming from? The temptation is to look into her family and search out the dysfunction that must lie at the base of Rachel’s feelings of worthlessness. Bingo! We definitely find dysfunction in Rachel’s family. (Most likely we’ll find it in most of our families.)
Then what do we do? I mean, what does Rachel do? After all, this novel is not about us. Right?
So Rachel will recognize that she was mistreated in some way (or at least she thought so). Now, the question becomes, is she stuck with other people’s definitions of her worth? In fact, are other peoples’ definitions the true source of her worth at all?
Ah…now we have a conflict! How will Rachel free herself from her wrong view of the source of her worth and adopt the true view that God made her worthy?
Now all we need is a plot!
Okay. Let’s create circumstances in her life which will force her to run away to a boarded-up plantation house in Louisiana. There she will meet Lovey, a wise, elderly housekeeper. She will also finds some Civil War diaries in the attic and learn how her ancestors have dealt with their difficulties. Then, she will—
You’ll have to read the book to find out the rest!
The good news for you, the reader, is that you don’t have to run away to a plantation. You can take Rachel’s journey with her. You see, Rachel’s journey is your journey–just as it is mine.
And yes, there is a solution to our sense of worthlessness. Rachel finds it and embraces it. You can too!
As a college professor at Baylor University, she love to write what she calls authentic realism. Kay has written a sequel to Celebration! called, Glimpse of Splendor
In addition to her two first books, this busy writer will be releasing Christine’s Promise (Nov. 16) and Skirting Tradition, (Jan 16) which will be published by LPC.