And the Story Behind the Story
Recently I realized I’ve never made the official novel announcement here. News I shared several weeks ago on Facebook and Twitter, but not here. (For those of you who’ve seen Facebook or Twitter you’ll like the story behind the story.) My novel, My Soul to Keep, went live as an ebook on August 21st. It is now also available as a paperback book on Amazon. Other retailers can order it from Ingram.
What’s the Story?
This dystopian tale takes place in 1961, but America is not the nation you know. It’s an insular land of righteousness, repression, and fear.
Drawn into a maelstrom of political intrigue, familial deception, and social upheaval two women, one peaceful and the other violent, seek truth and justice. To find the truth they will have to make sacrifices.
Triumph will free them and the nation.
Failure will mean a face-off with the angel-assassin, Azrael.
How A Nice Girl Wrote A Dystopian Novel
You might wonder how “a nice girl like” me came to write a dystopian novel.
I moved seventeen times before I graduated from high school. No, neither parent was in any armed service. Seventeen different homes, seventeen different schools. Can you imagine a more hostile environment? Neither can I which is why I am uniquely qualified to write a dystopian novel.
The Real Story
When I was struggling to find the right vehicle for the story, My Soul to Keep. I knew early on that incest would be a big part of the novel. I tried writing a fantasy with dragons. I tried writing a realistic, contemporary novel. I even tried to write it with aliens in the story. But the truth is, I cannot imagine a more dystopian society than the one with family units where a child is abused. When I created the dystopian alternate history and wrote the story, Miranda came alive.
If you’ve been reading this blog from it’s beginning you know that I once had nightmares like my character. My nightmares were far less clear than Miranda’s. I believe that I was sexually abused but I have no actual memory to support that and I have no proof. So having Miranda search for her truth was a natural extension of the story. But, that also mired the story in too much of my own fears and uncertainties. It took a while to get clarity personally and in the story.
I credit my mentor, William F. Wu, for a lot of that clarity. He indulged me in long rambling emails. He encouraged me to think about this or that in reference to a particular scene or theme. But he never tried to shape my story or my characters. He helped me realize the structure that existed in the mess of words I’d written. Encouraged me to trim the fat and expose my truths. That kind of mentor is worth so much more than a thank you.
When I decided to create a religious tyranny I drew on my past (granddaughter of a Baptist minister on one side and of a Nazarene Deacon on the other). And I researched many other religious traditions, choosing this bit and that. The hardest part was trying to decide how such a tyranny came about in America. I decided to expand on a dark time in American history, the isolationist period. At the time I was developing the novel this darker America seemed a far stretch. I had no idea that in the real world, America was going to take another dark turn. I should have guessed. Ideas, good and bad, cycle through history again and again.
A Happy Author
It’s an odd and exciting feeling to finally have a published book. There are so many firsts that it’s somewhat overwhelming. And it’s not the last. Watch for a new look to this website and sample chapters will be available. In my soon-to-be-released Burrows Insiders newsletter, there will be more announcements and some sneak peeks at a couple of new works-in-progress.
My undying thanks to the people who have read My Soul to Keep and posted reviews. I’m delighted that the book has received 5 stars from all who’ve reviewed or rated it so far. If you have read it, please take the time to leave your honest review. Every review helps get the book noticed, even if you didn’t enjoy the novel. It’s “make an author happy day.” If you haven’t bought your copy—help a girl out, won’t you?
My Soul to Keep is, in a way, an intensely personal story and yet, it isn’t my story at all. Miranda grew to be her own kind of character doing things I’d never attempt. The world is one I wouldn’t want to live in, yet it helped me explore ideas that I needed to explore. One of my readers said, “The growth Miranda achieves in her journeys empowers her to take action to change the world around her and do things she never would have thought herself capable of in the beginning of the book – a message I hope I can take to heart.” I couldn’t ask for more.