This should be the easiest of all questions to answer, right? I’ve been working on this book for years—reading and rereading, knit-picking wording and plot points, weeding out and filling in—yet, anytime I am approached with the question, “what is your book about?" I struggle to find an answer.
The first problem that crosses my mind is I don’t want to give away any spoilers, and then I realize I must give the questioner a hook, or the story will just sound too dull to bother reading. In the end, I’m stuck between these two thoughts and end up standing there with a dumb look on my face stammering something about it being a young adult fantasy novel about a girl tasked to return a stolen fiddle to another world, and by the time I’ve made it through that much, the questioner often has the same befuddled look as I do.
The cover design team is working on a back cover blurb, and I am interested to see how they will answer this question. I've always made it a point to never read the back covers of books. I like surprises. However, if I'd read more back covers, I would be much better at giving everyone a sneak peek into the book I’ve penned. Instead, I’m bumbling around this question, wondering how an author cannot describe what it is she wrote.
The other day someone asked me a different question, and it led to the most enjoyable conversation about my novel that I’ve had so far. He asked where I had gotten the idea for my book. It was a minute change, but no one had ever asked me it before. I gave a simple answer, but it got me thinking about what had led me to write The Girl and the Stolen Fiddle.
Long before I had ever imagined I would author this story, I was sitting in church during my early college years, and I started looking around at all the different traditions and culture that exists within Christianity—things that are not necessarily part of Jesus. Things like shaking hands, bible-based inside jokes, not talking too loudly before service starts, phrases and words that we’ve coined but have no spiritual value other than showing our knowledge to make ourselves part of the group. I started picking these things out when I was in church or at a church function and catching myself doing them too. Then I began wondering what it looked like to someone who hadn’t been raised in church—to someone who wasn’t a Christ-follower but wanted to check it out or to someone who was a new Christian trying to fit into this new world called church.
This became a regular habit of mine for several months. It became an unhealthy pattern for me, and I slowly became cynical. A quote from C.S. Lewis always comes to my mind when I think back to this point in my faith. In Mere Christianity, he writes, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
He is saying what we act like, we will become. This concept stuck with me. It was my experience. The thought rut I’d allowed in my life soon was not just an exercise to understand the other side’s point of view--it became my point of view. I stopped looking at the church from the perspective of someone who didn’t love Jesus, and I started to look through my own eyes and saw the “foolishness of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1.18) and made the world’s perspective my own.
I went as far as to tell God I no longer believed in Him. How utterly ridiculous.
God in His grace was patient with me, and I will have to write another time about how God thankfully melted my hardened heart and allowed me to view the message of the cross once again as “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1.18). I am now, however, aware of the influence of the thoughts and ideas we allow into our minds. This was an important lesson for me in general, but especially as a writer who will be putting thoughts and ideas into the minds of the readers. It’s a big responsibility.
It was when I was on the other side of this experience, that I began thinking about the opposing views those who “are perishing” and those who “are being saved” have of the world and the cross, and this is where the idea for The Girl and the Stolen Fiddle began.
If you hadn’t noticed, I have sidestepped answering the question asked in the title, however, “where did you get the idea for your book?” led to a conversation, which led to remembering what God has led me through and the mercy He continues to show me.
So, everyone will have to wait some more to find out exactly what this book is about, but at least now you have some idea of where it began.
If you have any other questions you’d like answered, leave a comment below or shoot me a message!