Not every book I write has the fundamentals of my faith interwoven into the fabric of the story. In fact, most of the novels I write are just cool stories. For my debut, however, I wanted to choose one that hit a little closer to home.
Yes, I’m going to attempt to publish a book this year. (Can I get a hallelujah?) I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, I’m not even promising that it will happen, but I’m going to try. I do still have kids at home and most days I feel like someone who wrangles bulls for a living; trying to keep everyone fed, the floors poop-free, and contain them in their pens during nap time. But here’s to the “I’m going to go for it anyway” attitude.
If it doesn’t happen this year, I’ll try again next year. But I have a good feeling about 2020.
As I toss around my ideas for the book title (sometimes out loud by accident – my family loves my maniac one-sided conversations) I try to consider everything. The novel I’ve chosen to publish this year is a young adult urban fantasy Christmas novel, currently titled, PEPPERMINT. The idea behind the title is that regardless of what time of the year it’s being read, I want the reader to feel like they’ve been hit with a tiny burst of cold, which, if you have ever noticed, is precisely what happens when you eat a mint.
But the title has little to do with why I chose this novel as my debut.
When I was younger, my dad used to read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to me and my siblings before bed. We would heap onto his comforter and go quiet for hours (which was rare for us – I had two sisters so you can imagine the daily scream-fights.) Every time he finished a chapter, we would come up with calculated arguments, or sometimes just straight up begging, for him to read another chapter. I’m not telling you about this childhood memory to stimulate warm gushy feelings, I’m bringing it up because it was a tradition that took me on adventures every night before bed. It was an exciting time for me as a kid, to be able to bond with my family over a story we all loved. Even if I couldn’t agree with my sisters on anything else, like whose turn it was to get ready in the bathroom in the morning, or whose turn it was to clean a certain room for Saturday morning chores, or even who stole whose stuff, we could all agree on Reepicheep. And Aslan. We could all get swept away to Narnia.
That marked the beginning of my obsession with other worlds.
The simple Calder family tradition (that may or may not have become a tradition by accident) fuelled my inner book nerd and is something I think about all the time these days, because now I have kids. It shouldn’t come as a shock that I want to carry on the tradition with them. There’s something magical about gathering, listening, staying up late just to hear what happens next. I want my children to go on those same adventures, to fall asleep with their minds on brave characters, to create those same bonds with each other over stories. I think with what’s become of this world, with technology sabotaging authentic relationships at every turn, it matters that we start traditions where we can spend real unplugged time with our kids.
I first started writing Peppermint when I had my son five years ago. This book, in a lot of ways, is for him. I imagined pulling out this old Christmas book every season and reading our way through the evenings of the twelve days before Christmas, with snow blowing against the windows and our toes toasting by the fire. Now I have three kids, because frankly, it just took me that long to finish writing and revising the book (oh wait, I’m still revising it), but now I’m getting it ready to go out into the world and share the message of hope. To hopefully start new traditions in other homes, while I pull out my book every year and start a tradition in mine.
My faith plays a role in this one. It’s hard to talk about faith these days, and people are especially against it at Christmas time (and with some of the stories I’ve heard about people’s encounters with the church, I don’t blame them.) But to give them a book at Christmas with no strings attached? I think I can handle that. A present never hurt anyone, even people who have different beliefs. That’s my way to share hope at Christmas 2020.
And just like that, you have all my reasons for my choice.
Just pray I can get my book done and published before the fall.
(No seriously. I will take all those prayers.)