Sending out advance readers’ copies of my novel has got to rank right near the top of the list of the scariest things I have ever done. Many of the people who received copies were heroes of mine, masters in their respective fields of writing, history, the spiritual life, or a combination thereof. So the weeks of waiting for responses were, to say the least, nerve-wracking.
But, finally, I received a handwritten letter from a writer I have long admired who called my novel “terrific” and went on to add, “Every page has felicities.” After that, the positive reviews began to come in with a regularity that has made recent days seem long and happy. Surely one of the most personally satisfying of these was the response I received from the Rev. Tilden Edwards—founder and former director of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation — a man I have never met but long admired. For years, while working a dead-end job in Washington, I took great comfort from the publications of the Shalem Institute and the knowledge that there were people like Rev. Edwards out there with a deeper commitment to a fully lived life. It is a great honor to have the man who helped inspire my novel write the following about it:
“The author’s story drew me into the life of 7th century England through the personal story of its monastic commentator. As the novel proceeds, I found myself more and more connected not only with the unique story of the Oblate, but with the way of life and way of seeing the earth, prayer, relationships, and profound moral dilemmas of the time, along with the time’s scourges of ethnic and religious differences, wars and decimating plagues. The thorough historical research of the author assures that the reader not only can appreciate the unique and vivid fictional story woven by the author, but also a sense of touching the realities of life in that relatively little-known period of English, particularly Northumberland, history.”