Friday, January 6, 2012

What I'm Learning from Reviews

Charity Singleton has posted a review of Dancing Priest at her blog, Wide Open Spaces. Here's a portion of what she has to say:

"I had been hearing about Glynn's book since it was first accepted for publication; Glynn and I work together as editors for The High Calling. So, on Friday, when I took all of the gifts cards and cash I had received for Christmas and bought a Kindle Fire, I knew the first book I would download would be Dancing Priest

"My only disappointment was that I didn't buy it sooner..."

It's a wonderful review, and like all the other reviews and the emails and face-to-face comments I've been receiving, it’s teaching me things about my book and the story it tells, things I didn’t realize or see or even understand until other people started reading it.

Dancing Priest is a big story, big in terms of scope, characters and geography. I truly didn’t think about that when I was writing it. But looking back, and considering most contemporary (Christian and general) fiction, it is unusual. Most fiction today tends to be tightly focused on a handful of characters. My book focuses on two, but there are many more who come to play more than minor roles.

Another difference with a lot of contemporary fiction is that it’s more narrative than psychological. It’s a story that moves forward. It doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s inside of the character’s heads, or staying in one place for very long.

It’s a story that crosses genres, which is a problem for most publishers. It’s not a romance novel, in the conventional definition of a romance novel, but it is a love story. But it’s not only a love story. It’s a love story lived within the context of contemporary life.

It is not autobiographical. Well, that’s mostly true. I’ve been asked if I identify with the main character, Michael Kent, or if I consider him an alter-ego. And the answer is no, I don’t, with one exception: how he attracts and deals with naysayers and competitors. Much of that comes from my own experience. But that’s about the only direct connection.

The character I identify the most with is (should a male author say this?) Sarah Hughes, the heroine. Her journey toward faith is taken largely from my own, including many of the specific details.

The book appeals to Christians and non-Christians alike. I didn’t write it with a specific audience or an imaginary reader in mind. I just wrote the story.

But I’ve had some hard-bitten, cynical people tell me what it’s meant to them. I’m still struck with wonder at this. One said she liked it “in spite of all the God stuff.” Another said she finally understood what people meant when they talked about faith – that it had destroyed her stereotypes. A third said he didn’t think he would enjoy as much as he did, and wondered if there would be a sequel. These were all non-Christians (as a Christian like me would define that term).

In a way, I’m glad the manuscript for the sequel is done except for the serious editing – I’m not going to try to write something to new expectations, including my own. The sequel moves in a different direction than the first, but the story is still big (actually bigger) and the major characters are still the same, with the addition of a few more.

The reviews – the comments – the reactions – I never expected to be as blessed as I have been by all of them.

6 comments:

S. Etole said...

I tried the link to Charity's post but it didn't work for me. I am eagerly looking forward to the sequel.

jasonS said...

So glad to hear there's a sequel. Loving the book so far, Glynn.

Louise Gallagher said...

Glynn -- I love your ruminations on your writing process and the backstory.

thanks!

Nancy said...

"But looking back, and considering most contemporary (Christian and general) fiction, it is unusual." Umm...I think this is why so many of us are enjoying it! I've had to slow down in my reading. I'm enjoying it so much I don't want it to be over!

Brock S. Henning said...

Glynn, congratulations on your novel! I'm slowly getting caught up after several months of non-blogging during my family's move from Colorado to Indiana. I recall you sharing your work on a novel quite a ways back (among your other numerous projects), and it's a pleasure to see a finished product. The cover looks great and I've been seeing lots of tweets and posts from others. What a terrific start!

Ted Witham said...

Glynn, Thanks for your novel. As an Anglican priest, I enjoyed it. I have posted reviews on Amazon, on my blog at http://wp.me/p4zcV-7G, and on LibraryThing (at https://www.librarything.com/work/12058303/summary/80984232)

Ted Witham