After Stephen and I married in 2006, I began teaching high school English. Even though I really did not like teaching, I thought I would try older grades to see if it was any better (it wasn't). To complete my teacher certification, I had to take some classes. One of them was called Writing Across the Curriculum. In this class, the teachers were encouraged to write and workshop our writing in small groups. It was here that my first novel was born.
I had written novels before. In high school I wrote what we would call fan fiction today in spiral notebooks. My friends asked me to place them and their favorite rock star in the leading roles. I probably wrote a dozen of those. Before I left for my first stint in England, I had written a six-hundred-page vampire novel set in London, and when I returned from Australia, I wrote one set in Melbourne (I even shopped around for an agent with that one).
But this novel was the first I had ever attempted based on a cause I was passionate about. This novel dealt with sex trafficking and its links with pornography. It took me three years of researching, attending conferences, and interviewing experts before I finished it. And once it was completed, I was terrified. I had almost been afraid to finish it because...well, now what did I do with it?
Self-publishing had just taken off, and I decided that the impossibility of getting an agent outweighed “the shame” of self-publishing, so in 2009, I published All that is Right and Holy with Xulon Press. Simultaneously, and on a whim, I sent it to a bunch of agents as well. In June of that year, one of the agents contacted me. She loved the book and wanted to represent me. I was ecstatic.
Unfortunately, two years later we still had not sold the book to a publisher. I think this was because the book was intended for a Christian audience, and the subject matter was too intense. In the meantime, I had pulled the book from Xulon Press just as it won second place in a Christian Choice book award. I was devastated and felt like all of the hard work and money we had poured into this book had been a waste.
Despite my disappointment, a creative fire was unleashed inside me. I began to write every day, and even though two more novels were completed that I didn’t do anything with, the compulsion to write had become a daily presence.
I knew I wanted to write more about this subject—the effect of pornography on marriages and families and the terrifying reality of sex trafficking. Some of the people who had read the book told me this was their first time hearing about this. Based upon reactions, I saw there was an audience out there…somewhere.
A few years later in 2015, I would revise and rewrite All that is Right and Holy and rename it Captives. Moving beyond the shame and the doubt, I am prouder of this effort than any of my others to date.
While writing this novel, I listened to a lot of soundtracks like House of Sand and Fog. Soundtrack music was my staple during this time.
What was the most creative time of your life?