A little about me: I’m a writer.
And that’s a lot about me. But that’s not where the story ends. Words mesmerize me just by existing at all. I’m a moth to their verbal bug-zapper. If my stomach were a dictionary I’d eat them all day long until my thesaurus was inflamed.
Besides that, I’m a junior English major at Thomas More College here in Kentucky. It’s a small, lush liberal arts school near a mecca of restaurants called the Crestview Hills Town Center.
Now I have to be straight out with you, though, because I’m skirting around the edge of the real beast--
I finished a novel last year, called CEDAR OF LEBANON. It's a retelling of Cain and Abel set in the Depression era, drawn from historical conflicts in Appalachia’s coal country. Noah Conley, a pastor with no heir, fears his flock will disintegrate if he succumbs to a crippling snakebite. His church backs the town’s coal miners, who intend to strike against their company boss and demand cash wages. But without a church leadership to help feed their families during a lockout, the miners’ hope for a better life won’t amount to coal dust.
As panic threatens, Noah’s estranged twin brother Adam returns home, a desperate drifter. In spite of Adam’s crooked history, the crisis at hand forces Noah to beg for his help. He proposes a ruse to save his church while keeping his brother concealed: Adam will assume his role as pastor, with Noah acting as a power-behind-the-pulpit until he finds an apt successor and can rest in peace. But when Adam rebels against his control and rallies the miners to strike, Noah soon regrets the deception—and dreads that the company will discover Adam, that the strikers will collapse into betrayal, that even the God he trusts may no longer be watching out for them.
I’m currently looking for representation for this title. One query at a time…or five…
I promised I would link faith and writing in the previous entry. This might tell you a little about how I revere writing—the act of it, and the work produced by others. In her wonderful book Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle writes:
Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories.
Christ’s own stories brought faith to a new plain. Rather than lecturing, he created; instead of telling, he showed. The story aspect of faith is buried in his parables. The irony is wonderful: these imagined stories contain kernels of things that are absolutely true. That’s what Stephen King has called “the truth in the lie” for all stories. It’s the parable art. It’s the boldness to do something ordinary in an impossible way—like walking on water.
I hope anyone who reads this does the same. Set foot on the water and don’t fall through. Weave a tale that you know is true.
Now, how do you link your faith and your writing? Or how does your faith impact your view of what you read? I would love to hear it.
Anthony Otten has published stories in The Jabberwock Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and Wind. He has been a finalist for the Hargrove Editors' Prize in Fiction. Still: The Journal has published an excerpt from his novel. He lives in Kentucky.
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