Every now and then it’s good to have someone tell you that what you pour your heart and soul into matters. I’d like to think that’s the case with The Shape of Mercy, which was named the 2009 Christian Book of the Year for Fiction by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association last Thursday night.
I’d like to think this award is that kind of affirmation. The words that bled out of me during the intense months that I wrote this book seemed to have struck a chord and I am honored and awed.
The field of finalists is a talented bunch and I count such colleagues as Jerry Jenkins, Tim Downs, Ann Gabhart and Christa Parrish as amazing artists of the written word. They are passionate wordsmiths all.
When I accepted the award at the Dallas Convention Center last week, I mentioned a snippet from a wonderful book I’d read on the plane that afternoon. I will review that novel later this week, so I won’t give it all away here, but one line within it (spoken by one of its characters, no less) makes me smile. The fictional character says he doesn’t read fiction because he doesn’t want to read about people who never existed doing things they never did. I love that line! I love it that a fictional character says it.
The truth is, I love the power of story to communicate truth through the life stories of people who never existed, doing things they never did. That power fuels me, fills me, thrills me.
It’s true I wrote a book half-filled with imaginary people, but they inhabited a true world and I foisted on them on a journey which I wanted to feel as real as the sun on your face.
It feels good to know what I wanted might have actually happened.
It must’ve felt real.