I you look at the link to "What people are saying about The Defilers
" you'll find several reviewers who admit they were put off by the title and the subject matter, but once they read the book, were relieved to find out the book has a hopeful, redemptive theme. They're glad they read it, but it was a hard sell.
Author Mary DeMuth seems to be facing a similar problem. Her novels Wishing on Dandelions
, which was released recently, andd its prequel Watching the Tree Limbs
tell the story of a girl who finds healing from sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a neighborhood bully. The first story focuses on the character when she is nine years old and trying to discover the secrets of family of origin. It is in this novel, the character suffers the abuse. Sensitively told, capturing the voice of the character in a way that reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird for its skill, Maranatha finds a new family and a measure of healing from the abuse.
The second picks up the same character at age 17. She has a new set of problems, and residual shame from her abuse, despite the healing she has already undergone. It's a beautifully written coming of age story with memorable characters and humor . It has a delightful, emotionally packed ending. Both novels are packed with deep wisdom about God that is never preachy or unnatural.
Mary's doing a virtual blog tour and today's her day to visit me.
1) How hard are you finding it to sell your more realistic fiction?
Very hard. It’s a huge risk for a publisher, I’m guessing. It’s okay if I have violence-filled prose, but try to write about those hidden issues like sexual abuse or inauthenticity of Christian leaders, or the dichotomy of a “Christian” family at church and an abusive one at home, and you get the word “edgy” thrown at you. I’m just trying to write about real life, with truth and grace. And as I say that, I hear a bit of a whine in my voice. Please know I am so thankful I’ve had the chance to write what I’ve written so far. God is good to provide publishers.
2) How do you keep from getting discouraged by some of the industry trends you see?
Prayer. And a good sense of humor. I can’t change this industry. I’m a tiny little tadpole in the pond of CBA fiction, so I pray my little tadpole heart out. And I try to be true to what God seems to be calling me to write. I will write the stories of my heart regardless.
3) I found both your novels very positive and inspiring, despite the fact that they tackle some tough subject matter. How hard is it to convince people to pick up and read the novel, so they can receive the redemptive message?
Very hard. I think I’ll start paying people to buy my books. What a great marketing campaign that would be? Get some money, read a book. Hmmm. All I can do in this regard, seriously, is relying on word of mouth. Folks like you telling others that my books are redemptive and full of light really helps them to pick up a book.
4) When you read, do you read for escape? Or to wake up?
Fiction: escape. Nonfiction: wake up. The problem is, in terms of nonfiction, I find very little that revives, awakens, astounds or causes me to think differently. I keep picking up books that all sound exactly the same. Regurgitated words, over and over and over again. I’m tired of them, frankly.
5) How do you want your stories to affect your readers? What kind of journey do you hope to take them on?
I want my readers to have an epiphany, on a small scale or large scale. I want them to be challenged to think just a little bit differently about who God is, how He works, what He says. I want to take my readers on a journey of discovery, without oversentimentalizing or trivializing God.
6) What's your next novel going to be about?
It’s set in France! It’s about marriage. I can’t say much more.
7) Any more stories about Maranatha coming?
In my head, yes. In print, no. I have an outline and the first few chapters of Maranatha’s third book, but I don’t think it will be bought, unfortunately.