But I’ve got something very intruiging to take its place. My writing colleague Marlo Schalesky has a new book out and is stopping by the Edge today to chat about it. It’s called Beyond the Night and is published by WaterBrook/Multnomah.
Here’s the teaser: “As a woman lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her husband waits beside her, urging her to wake up and come home. Between them lies an ocean of fear and the tenuous grip of memories long past. Memories of wonder. Of love. Memories of a girl named Madison and a boy named Paul…”
Edge: So Marlo, what’s the big idea behind Beyond the Night?
Marlo: When my grandfather was going blind, he took a shotgun to the backyard and ended his life. He was a good man, kind and wise. Blindness didn’t change that. It wouldn’t have changed it. But the fear of it did.
It didn’t have to be that way. Today, there are 1.3 million people in the United States alone who are legally blind. Another nearly 9 million are visually impaired. Every day in this country people find out they are going blind. Seniors, mothers, fathers, children. Last year, it was my own mother.
So, Maddie’s journey through blindness and fear grows out of my family’s experiences. It also, in a broader sense, comes out of my own. For even though blindness is a specific malady, Maddie’s condition is also a metaphor for the dark times we all face. For the difficulties that come and rattle our faith, for those times when we can’t see what’s ahead, when life is masked by shadow and doubt.
For Maddie, losing her physical sight prompted her journey through doubt and fear. For me, it was infertility and miscarriage.
If there’s one thing I know about it’s living the life God has given you when it’s not the life you dreamed. Infertility taught me how to do that. It taught me that life takes unexpected turns and dark, difficult times come. And it taught me that it’s not the darkness that will destroy you, but the fear of it.
So, in many ways Beyond the Night explores my own questions, my own doubts, my own faith journey in facing the darkness, facing fear, with hope and dignity. That’s why Beyond the Night is about overcoming the fear of the unknown, rather than letting it overcome you. It’s about finding the light, the hope, the promise that lies beyond the darkness.
And I think we could all use that, whether we’re going physically blind or not.
Edge: Too true. So how did this book come about?
Marlo: It was all God’s fault. And it started with a dream. Not one of those “I have a dream” kind of dreams, but a real, honest-to-goodness, it’s-3am-and-I’m-asleep kind of dreams. I dreamt Paul and Maddie’s love story. And when I woke up, I couldn’t get the two of them out of my head. I thought about them in the shower, on the way to seminary classes, in the grocery store. Everywhere! For weeks, I found myself replaying tidbits of their story in my mind, until I finally figured out that maybe God wanted me to write their story.
“But,” said I to God, “there’s not enough here. It’s not compelling enough.”
“Yes,” said God to me, “but Maddie’s going blind.” Well, maybe it wasn’t so much in those words, but just in the revelation of what was going on with Maddie.
“Oh,” said I, “That’s very interesting. But it’s still not enough. Not quite.”
Two more days went by, and Paul and Maddie’s story still kept teasing my mind. “It’s not enough,” I kept saying to God. “There’s got to be more.”
And then I saw it – the big twist. The incredible truth that I had no idea about before. It took my breath away. So, after I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, I sat down and starting working on the proposal for Beyond the Night.
As I fleshed out the story, I realized that this is exactly the type of book I’d like to keep writing – something with the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks love story – without the sap!- matched with the knock-your-socks-off twist of a M. Night Shymalan movie – without the horror! That kind of story excited me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. And I figured that there had to be more people like me out there – people who want to be both moved emotionally and surprised and delighted intellectually. People who want to be changed, challenged, and caught with wonder by a story. That’s what I’m hoping for in Beyond the Night!
Edge: Very cool. I like to have my intellect delighted. Just so you know, everyone, Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of six books. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters. Wow!
Check it out on her website (where you can read a sample chapter and win a free copy!)
See you on Friday . . .
WaterBrook Press has just released DragonLight; my good friend Donita K. Paul’s fifth installment in her DragonSpell series, a wonderfully rich tale for lovers of imaginative fiction.
Here’s the teaser: “As Kale and her father are busy hatching, bonding, and releasing the younger generation of dragons as helpers throughout the kingdom, the light wizard has little time to develop her skills. Her husband, Sir Bardon-despite physical limitations resulting from his bout with stakes disease-has become a leader, serving on the governing board under Paladin.
When Kale and Bardon set aside their daily responsibilities to join meech dragons Regidor and Gilda on a quest to find a hidden meech colony, they encounter sinister forces. Their world is under attack by a secret enemy. Can they overcome the ominous peril they can’t even see?”
Dontcha just love contemplating worlds that exist only in the creative minds of clever people?
In case you missed Book One which began it all, here’s a review of DragonSpell by Mary Connealy of Christian Book Previews: “Dragonspell is a fantasy about Kale, a slave girl who finds a dragon’s egg. The elders in her village free her from slavery since, after all, she now owns a dragon’s egg, and send her far away to The Hall to learn. Kale may indeed now have a dragon’s egg, but other than that, she feels the same as always. She expects to be a servant in The Hall now, much like a slave, which is the only thing she knows, so that’s okay. On her journey she finds seven more dragon eggs.
“Every move she makes leads her away from her destination, despite her determination to get to The Hall. She is dragged along on a journey with a band, who keep telling her she’s meant to use her special gifts. Kale has no gifts except obeying, but her companions tell her she has the gift of finding dragon eggs.
“The entire book is full of fun and adventure. Timid Kale turns into a plucky adventurer by necessity, not choice. Despite her desire to obey her village elders and go to The Hall, she’s having fun – fun interrupted by terror as the evil Wizard Rizzo tries to turn Kale to his side, so he can use her to find dragon eggs.
“In fantasy writing the challenge is ‘world creating.’ In the best tradition of The Lord of the Rings, Donita K. Paul creates a world with creatures both good and evil. She conjures plants and animals with her vivid words, and creates an adventure so fast paced and death defying, can see and feel it.
“This book is for adults as well as children. It’s funny and inspiring, and the good guys are intrepid. Kale, the reluctant heroine, rises brilliantly to the challenge set before her. The evil Wizard meets his match with the all-powerful Wulder and his fellow warrior Paladin.
Dragonspell was an uplifting change of pace for me. A great example of how much fun literature can be and how a book can appeal to children and still be engrossing for adults. “
Donita is a retired teacher and award-winning author of seven novels, including DragonSpell, DragonQuest, DragonKnight, and DragonFire. When not writing, she is often engaged in mentoring writers of all ages. Donita lives in Colorado Springs where she is learning to paint–walls and furniture! Visit her website at http://www.dragonkeeper.us/.
Check it out!
On Monday (and I do promise to start blogging on Mondays again!) I have something really FUN for you.
It was written a year ago by Abraham Piper, the son of Twin Cities theologian, pastor and author John Piper.
With Father’s Day coming up, it seemed a great time to post this; you may know a father who’s hurting over a child who seems lost to him. If you don’t have time to read it, here’s the nut graf: A person’s actions won’t change until his heart changes. Behavior pours out of how a person thinks. A wandering son or daughter needs to see clearly again before he or she can make decisions that a clear-visioned person would make.
Here’s the link, Edglings.
Have a great weekend. Don’t forget to call your Dad.
For the past couple years there’s been this Grim Reaper-kind of specter lurking around the paper-and-ink world of publishing, moaning to us that that pages will soon be no more and images will replace them.
We’ve been commanded to start weeping and preparing for the brave new world where books of the three-dimensional kind will cease to exist. I duly noted the prophecy, decided it would not happen in my lifetime and went back to writing for the world of paper.
I still feel that way. Even after reading op-eds like this one, which appeared today in the NY Times. I know you’re busy – you don’t need to read the whole thing (though I suggest you do). The gist of the piece is this: Digital this is replacing paper that. It’s happening. Readers – and there are fewer of those than there were 20 years ago – will begin to want all their reading material on their Kindles and Sony readers, and other nameless reading devices being designed even as I write this (and I am keenly aware that I am writing, at this moment, on a paperless, digital medium).
And when this happens, so says the Reaper, the floodgates will open and writers of all kinds – those with talent and those with none – will be able to get their good words and sorry words into digital space because we already know there is no boundary to that. A good “book” will cost next to nothing and so will a bad one. There will be a proliferation of downloadable words with no end in sight. Writers of the good stuff will have to find auxiliary means for making a living at writing, like, as this author of this op-ed imagined, charging for appearances to read their good stuff aloud. Because everything that is digital starts out rare and expensive and soon becomes common and cheap. Remember how much calculators cost back in the ’70s?
Well, I concede it may be true. I even concede it may happen in my lifetime. I know how fast things can change. Twenty years ago the word e-mail meant nothing to me.
But I predict no death of books. And that is because books have dual lives: they are objects of information/entertainment – functional, if you will – but they are also objects of art and that makes them cultural as well. Especially the novel. There is something artistic about having a book in your hands, keeping it after you’ve read it, and placing it onto a shelf in your living room like it’s part of the furniture. Books are displayed, spine visible, like photographs, paintings, and Lladro figurines. No one’s going to place their Kindle on the coffee table next to a Tuscan bowl of decorative spheres. Novels transcend information. They are things we keep.
The volume of books produced may decrease, and we writers may have to start making tents to supplement a meager income, but our books will not disappear until art disappears.
And there is no cloaked Doomsday party-pooper prognosticating the death of that.