It’s hard to explain to others that I wrote a book I never wanted to write. I didn’t even write a book I’d want to read. I went against all conventional advice.
Stay with me here.
I always wanted to write books that are light and allow a reader to escape from reality. The world is so dark and heavy, and I wanted to bring levity to the weightiness. But, when I prayed for a story, that’s not the story God gave to me. Instead, I wrote A Sacrificial Justice, a book so saturated in reality that beta readers reported that they wished the story had ended differently, only because they wished it didn’t portray the world as it was. They said they felt heavy. They said the story hit too close to home. These weren’t criticisms, they were compliments. But, here I am, a writer who wanted to write light-hearted books, and I’m standing with a book that weighs people down with reality.
But, it was what I needed to write. It was a book I wish had existed a decade ago when I turned in my professors (even though, at the time, it would have been too hard for me to read). I wrote a book so people in situations like mine would know that they were not alone. Though whistleblowers are isolated from others and ostracized and belittled and undermined, they are still doing important work. Standing up for others will always be important work.
When I started to write A Sacrificial Justice, I didn’t want it to be too close to my own experience. I didn’t want it to be at a university (it’s at a fictional university). I didn’t want it to be in Boston, so I created a fictional city called Hartfordshire (it’s now set in Boston). And, I absolutely, 100% didn’t want the story to be focused on sexual harassment. In fact, my first draft I tried so hard to make it not about sexual harassment that I created a different inciting event and a different conflict storyline that I knew by the second draft I needed to scrap it. I fought hard against this story, but there was only one way it needed to be told.
I’m on the “eve” of submitting to Pitch Wars. In just over a month, I will submit my manuscript to mentors and see what happens. If Pitch Wars doesn’t work out, I will dig into the query trenches. And, I’ll have to defend and promote a book I never intended to write. But, it was a story that insisted on being told.
All of that said, I’m also incredibly excited that I will be moving on to writing a new story soon which will be wildly different than A Sacrificial Justice. The new piece is still women’s fiction, but it is set on the Oregon Coast with a protagonist plagued by a lifetime of failure. I’ve always wanted to write a book surrounded by nature, and I’ll get to do that in this book. Here’s a (very rough) teaser for the premise of this book:
Lyddie Erikson has failed. Again. The only way to salvage her business before her family discovers her failure is to accept the inheritance her late grandmother promised her. But, when the will is read, Lyddie’s perfect older sister receives the money, and Lyddie is left with her grandmother’s crumbling beach home on the Oregon Coast.
With her rent due, and no way to pay it, Lyddie resigns herself to the house by the sea. Lyddie’s new life consists of renovations and walks through the forests and beaches of her childhood where memories of bygone happy summers begin to haunt her. As Lyddie peels back layers of yellowing wallpaper, she soon begins to peel back the layers of her family’s past. Lyddie hopes what she discovers is enough to repair her relationship with her sister as well as secure a failure-free future.
At some point in the future, I’ll have to share the story about how this second story came to be. It will need a post all of its own.