Saturday, December 12, 2009

11 Things About My Adult Novel, The Road to Damascus, which will be published in 2010!!

So, while some of the biggie New York pubs are hashing it out over my YA novel, Don't Hate the Player, I've decided to go ahead and locally publish my adult novel, The Road to Damascus. Why? Well, RTD is special because it's like Goldilocks in some ways. It's too Christian for secular publishers, and then it's too secular for Christian publishers. Plus, people are hankering(Southern word here!) to read some of my writing, so I thought why not. I retain my rights in case I ever want to big time publish later. So, it should be published in late January, early February. And here's 11 Things You Didn't Know(or maybe wish you hadn't!)

Here's a summary first of what Road to Damascus is about.....

Like it's biblical namesamke, the road into the Depression era, mountain community of Damascus, Georgia holds the same mythical powers of redemption and repentance. Within its rocky pathways lies the secret that binds a preacher’s daughter, the son of a cotton baron, and a black drifter to a lynching fifty years earlier.

Jackson Tate makes his pilgrimage to Damascus out of greed rather than soul searching. On a mission to acquire land for his family’s booming cotton mill business, he doesn’t anticipate his only stumbling block to be in mild mannered, Luke Nations, the pastor of a small church. Nor does he take too kindly when Luke’s daughter, Sarah, cools his sexual advances with a pitcher of ice cold water. But when a flash of blinding light leaves him a contemporary Saul, broken and bruised on the road to Damascus, the world Jackson knew is forever changed.

Amid the lush landscape of the mountains, Jackson is reborn not only through salvation at the very church he wanted take, but through the kindness of the Nations family who shelter and care for him during his recovery. It isn’t long before the reformed Jackson wins Sarah’s heart. When he brings her out of the mountains and back to his home in the big city, their newlywed life is forever changed when they befriend, John Christian, an elderly black drifter.

When John is falsely accused of murdering of a young, white woman, Jackson and Sarah hold John’s fate in their hands. Do they falsify a deposition claiming John wasn’t with them the night of the murder, or do they stand up to Jackson’s prejudiced family and execute a daring prison break along a backwoods road, embarking on a harsh trek to freedom through the rugged North Georgia mountains with Klansmen and hired mercenaries on their heels. Ultimately, the answer lies somewhere on the road to Damascus.

(11). I began writing RTD in June of 2008 after almost seven years of having the story with me, tucked away for the right time. When I finished in November of 2008, it was 160k words. Yes, it was an Epic Southern story! Since then, I’ve amped up the word wacker to shave off almost 65K words. Before you panic that I no longer have a story, I took out repetitive scenes, tightened the story, weeded out wordy parts, etc. There’s maybe three scenes that I’m really bummed to lose, but hey, that’s how the biz goes!

(10). The Road to Damascus is a story modeled after some of my favorite books and movies. To Kill a Mockingbird was a great source of inspiration, and it’s my favorite book of all time! While Tom Robinson is falsely accused of rape in TKMB, John Christian is falsely accused of murdering a young, white woman. Both the book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café, and the film, Fried Green Tomatoes, score right up there with my influences. I pay homage to FGW with The Mustard Seed Café where Sarah works and first meets Jackson, and with the undeniable bond between FGT characters, Idgy Threadgoode and Big George, with my characters Sarah and John Christian. Cold Sassy Tree is another Southern story I drew on, especially with trying to nail aspects of dialect. And the prejudice of the time period and the strength of those in society without a voice such as women and blacks, is seen in another one of my favorites, Places in the Heart with Sally Field and Danny Glover.

(9). I pay homage to another epic Southern story, Gone with the Wind, through Sarah’s nightmares from childhood. In GWTW, Scarlett often has dreams where she’s alone in the mist and searching for something she cannot find. In RTD, Sarah’s dreams stem from the premonition of her grandfather, George Lester. He dreamed when she was just six that she was alone in the woods with evil looming around her, and upon his deathbed, he warned her that if she was ever lost and alone in the woods, she should pray to him and he would lead her out. Since his death, she experienced the dreams. Often, they foreshadow when evil is about to effect one or more of the characters. And the dreams play out in the finale to something very interesting and extraordinary.

(8). Damascus is supposed to be an Eden on earth where everyone has a good heart and are genuinely good people. It is shown in sharp contrast to city of Marietta where Jackson is from, which is riddled with drinking, whorehouses, rape, murder, and child molestation.

(7). The fictional “Damascus” in the North Georgia mountains is based on a real place. Since my childhood, I was raised on almost mythical stories of Turniptown in Ellijah, GA where my paternal grandmother’s family is from. Damascus Baptist Church is modeled after Turniptown Baptist where my paternal grandfather was once the pastor(more on him tomorrow).

(6). Because of the divine aspect of Damascus, every character from there has a biblical name. The only ones who don’t are Leigh, the Cherokee Indian woman who married Luke Nation’s brother, Andrew, and her father, Gray Son.

(5). I did borrow names from family members. My grandmother, Jewel, and her sister, Essie, are both represented since Jewel and Ester are both biblical names. Jackson’s aunt and one of my favorite characters, Gigi, is actually named, Virginia, for my Big Mama, Virginia. Jackson is a name I love since my mother’s maiden name was Jackson, and if I’m blessed to have a son, he will be named Jackson in memory of her and my aunt and grandfather. Sarah is also very special because it’s the name of my cousin, Sarah Disharoon, who I was a nanny for eighteen months, and she feels like my own!

But the name I borrowed the most would be my great-grandfather’s name, George Lester Lanning. When I first started writing the prologue, I had him only represented as “the stranger” like the Good Samaritan. But, I knew I needed a name, and I knew some aspects of this character were based off Papa Lanning’s name, so I made the character George Lester, and it stuck! This picture sits on my piano which faces the writing chair where I wrote all of RTD. I felt like he was watching over me from time to time.

(4). Leigh Nations was an amazing character to write since she is skilled in the Native American art of healing, and she is the one who saves Jackson’s life after his accident on the road to Damascus. She also uses the biblical teaching of The Power of the Blood to save Jackson, which comes from the Book of Ezekiel.

(3). I had several “woooo” moments or weird moments while writing. The first came when I was searching for scripture to put into a certain scene. I knew I wanted it to be the story of Lazarus and the rich man. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know my Bible as well as I should because I didn’t know which book that story was in. When I found it was in the book of Luke, I had goosebumps since Luke is the name of the character who would actually be saying the sermon. I had that happen on two separate occasions.

Then, I knew I wanted Damascus church to look like Turniptown, but I had nothing to base it off since the original church has been rebuilt. Then during the summer, I came across a picture of the original church, and I had ANOTHER goosebump moment because it was exactly how I saw it in my mind.

(2). At its heart, RTD is a love story—both romantic and in its relationship between people. The unlikely romance between Sarah, a preacher’s daughter from the mountains, and Jackson, a rich cotton baron’s son, is just one of the great love stories of the book.

(1). While writing RTD, I sometimes pulled all nighters, and I wrote from midnight to when the first rays of dawn stretched across the skies. Those nights were pure EXHILERATION. I sometimes felt like I was right there in the mountains with my characters.

So, there's just a bit of info on The Road to Damascus. As it comes closer to publishing time, I'll be doing more behind the scenes info stuff!


Amna said...

I've never read Christian fiction, but that does sound pretty amazing.

It does remind me of To Kill A Mocking Bird- Loveeeed that.

You are so kick-ass june!

Laura McMeeking said...

Wow! Even in your describing the story (not even me reading it yet), I have such a sense of place, like I can imagine what everything looks like. Maybe it's my Southern roots...I dunno, but it sounds like a beautiful story! I'm glad you've decided to publish locally!

Chanelley said...

I love how you can tell just by your facts here how much you love this book. I hope it does well and I can't wait to see it on the shelves!

Rachele Alpine said...

Are the pubs hashing it out over your book? What's the scoop! I think you need to do a post to update us all!

TRTD sounds amazing, and from the way you talk about it, I know how much it means to you.

Enzo and Paige said...

Krista! I just found this! I am sooo excited about your novel! This definitely calls for a party! OMGosh...this is so incredible!

sue said...

Krista - I just found out about your novels from Paige's FB page. I am so excited to read your work! Just from your blog postings, RTD sounds like an incredible story - truly inspired! I will save your blog page as one of my bookmarks and check back regularly to find out when I can get a copy of it. Do I smell a movie in the future? Happy Writing!

Sue Reineck (former SLP at CMS)

houndrat said...

Looking forward to taking a break from editing to read it--WOOT! :)

Véro said...

Wow - I love how passionate you are when you talk about this novel!

I'm sure you'll let us know when we can purchase this novel - I will need a few copies as I have some family members that I believe would love your novel! :) (and of course I want to read it too)

Krista Ashe said...

Thanks guys for all your awesome comments and support! You do my heart good!