Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I Wrote Finding Grace

Yesterday, I said I would post a Word document I typed up some months ago that gives all the reasons I felt compelled to write a novel aimed primarily at impressionable teenage readers (with some cross-over appeal for adult readers, I believe...I hope!).  Here is that document, in its entirety, as I sent it to a publisher last spring, along with my finished manuscript:

By Laura Pearl

Ø      I’ve always been an avid reader, but have lately become disillusioned by the fact that nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find a novel with a love story in it that doesn’t include at least one graphically-detailed (blush-inducing) scene involving a sexual situation.  And in modern literature, it’s almost impossible to find a couple who decide to “wait” until they get married.  I wanted to write a book that shows that the Catholic Church’s teachings on pre-marital sex are not only good for one’s immortal soul, but also just make sense and make life simpler and happier.
Ø      I have also become aware in recent years that it is extremely rare to find a novel where religion in general, and the Catholic Faith in particular, isn’t treated in a disparaging way—and I wanted to counteract that with a positive depiction of fun, happy Catholic families.  The families I created are full of basically good, but very normal, flawed human beings.  (Imagine that: Catholics as normal people!)  I tried to tell their stories using humor when possible, and to make them the kind of people with whom readers—even non-Catholic ones—could connect.  And through my main character, Grace (who begins to read about the lives of the saints to improve her faith life), I included some information about saints who used to be well-known by young Catholics, but are rarely spoken of anymore, even in the classrooms of today’s parochial schools.
Ø      Remembering how much I was affected by some of the books of my youth, I have been worrying that today’s young people (young girls especially, as they can get so carried away with “romance”) are being assaulted from every side by the idea that there really isn’t anything wrong with pre-marital sex, contraception, and even abortion.  We appear to be living in a morals-neutral society these days; by the time my ten-month-old twin granddaughters are impressionable teenage readers, I shudder to think what kind of books will be targeted at them.  I wanted to write a book that deals with those controversial issues of our day and ultimately shows that the answer to life’s most difficult questions is to live according to the teachings of the Church.  And I hope I was able to accomplish this without sounding preachy.  That was my goal, anyway.
Ø      I also wanted to show that—contrary to the beliefs of many people that the Catholic Church is repressive, dour, and unforgiving—people can make mistakes, even big ones, and they can find forgiveness and healing (they can find grace) through the One True Faith.
Ø      I have dreamed, since I was a young girl, of writing just one novel in my lifetime.  I majored in English at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, but never really did any writing once I’d turned in my last paper and gotten my degree.  I got married in 1980 shortly after graduation and gave birth to the first of my five sons in 1983.  I put all of my energies into being a wife and mother (and a volunteer at my boys’ Catholic grade school), with no regrets.  My husband and I homeschooled our youngest son for five years, from 2002 to 2007.  At the end of the summer of 2007, just before he entered the local Catholic high school, I finally got inspired to accomplish my lifelong goal and began work on Finding Grace.  I spent the next four and a half years writing and re-writing this book, making countless revisions.  Although I realize there’s a big difference between writing a book and getting it published, I’m proud of this effort and hope you’ll give it a chance.
So that pretty much tells you what I hoped to accomplish with this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process over the almost five years that I worked on it.  The fact that it has actually been published is still a bit surreal, however.  I dreamed it might be an actual book one day, instead of just a stack of typed-up 8 and 1/2 by 11 inch pages; but I never really believed it.  Seeing it sitting there on an end table in my living room--a real bound book that is ready to be picked up and flipped through--is just something that's going to take me a little while to get used to!

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