I’m grinning ear to ear!
The past several years, Amazon has hosted a Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. There’s money in the prize, but more importantly, the winner (or winners) get published! This is so cool!
So a few years in the making, Michael has written a novel, titled Backside of Heaven. You can search it on Amazon, or just find it through the link! (Please download the excerpt for FREE – it says “buy” but the price is $0.00 – and give it a review!) It was announced just before Easter that Michael is one of the 100 quarter-finalists in his category. I believe there were a total of 2000 applicants in his category.
As we speak, reviewers from Publishers Weekly are reading the quarter-finalist manuscripts and will trim it down to only 5 semi-finalists! Later on, customer reviews may play a role in who is picked in the final stages…so please please please have a read and leave a review! I’m spreading the word because he shuns Facebook and pretty much all social media. And he doesn’t want to think about it constantly until the Semi-finalists are announced.
I’ve been able to read the whole thing, and if you like southern literature like Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, John Kennedy O’Toole, I think you should give it a chance. The writing is rich with sarcasm and wit, the descriptions and humor with which he writes about his loved south is so spot-on, you are there when you are reading it. You follow the story of a preacher and his errant cousin who shows up in Sunday worship one morning with quite an entrance!
Here’s Michael’s pitch for his novel in his own words:
This is a story about faith and family, prejudice and pride, curiosity and scrupulosity. In a Deep South town a new eatery opens up, Paradise Diner, a culinary oasis where alcohol is served twenty-four/seven and the waitresses go around topless. Even the old timers, who are usually so grouchy about the “changing times,” relish the fresh gossip. On Sunday morning a transvestite prances into Seventy-Sixth Street Baptist. Wearing high heels, fire-engine lipstick, and a leopard-print dress, Deon’s arrival shocks the congregation to the bone — then they learn that he thinks he’s Jesus.
I’m especially excited to share this because he almost didn’t enter! (I know!) But I was reading a blog post on Haley’s blog about the great lack of Christian art out there, and I just kept thinking, “I wish she could read Michael’s novel!” I don’t think there’s anything about this novel that would get it published by a Christian publisher (maybe I am wrong?). I think it would have a more mainstream appeal, but it takes up the themes of faith, sin, doubt, family, etc.
And as Madeline L’Engle says, “Art is art; painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it’s bad art, it’s bad religion, no matter how pious the subject” (Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, pg. 5) and “When a shoddy novel is published the writer is rejecting the obedient response, taking the easy way out. But when the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand” (pg. 15).
“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that ones life would not make sense if God did not exist.” – Emmanuel, Cardinal Suhard (qtd. in Walking on Water, pg. 26).