Your time is precious, and I am very grateful and humbled that you’ve decided to spend some of it with one of my stories. Thank you. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to know that the work exists in a form outside of a word document on a computer screen or an 8 ½ by 11” stack of paper on my desk! (It took me ten years to publish my first novel, and I have to pinch myself everytime I see one of my books in a store.) And now to imagine that you – someone I’ve probably never met – are curled up in a chair experiencing the plight of the characters I’ve come to know and love deeply, is downright bliss.
As an eager and voracious reader, I cherish a novel that stirs my heart, bolsters my hope and at least elicits a pin-prick in the corner of my eyes from time to time and even better, a deep-seated chuckle. Sometimes a story angers and even offends me, and I don’t begrudge that either. There is nothing like a little fiery discontentment to make you rear back and say, “Why do I have such a problem with this?” “How does it contradict how I see the world?” “What do I believe in?” “And why?”
Madeleine L’Engle, an award-winning author I had the opportunity to study under once wrote, “If it holds no truth, then it cannot truly be story,” and I suppose that is my litmus test for the stack of books on my bedside table. I believe in the power of stories to illuminate truths. Sometimes they are half-truths. Sometimes they are the full-truth, the whole picture. For instance, a story without suffering, pain and even more importantly, conflict, does not accurately represent the human experience, in my opinion. And likewise, a novel whose end goal is to solely depict despair and hopelessness has missed the (truth) mark as well.
I like a book that takes everything away from a compelling yet flawed protagonist. Books that level someone’s life, leaving them in a very dark room. But to keep them in the dark room wouldn’t be reality, as I’ve come to know it. In fact, it’s in the dark room, it is in the most desperate of situations, that the slant of light inevitably pierces through the blackness, isn’t it? Hope in spite of hopelessness, white-knuckled love, and most importantly grace and all of the mystery and life-altering realities that surround the whole notion of unmerited love, these are the topics I relish in a book because they most accurately reflect the true human experience.
But enough about me, how about you? I would be honored to know what you like to read and why. What kind of characters, plots and themes ring true to you? Do you write? What about? Do you have a faith or does the mere mention of that word get your dander up? I love an open dialogue, and I welcome your thoughts, questions, gripes, grapplings and musings.
Start or join a conversation on my Facebook fan page and Twitter. Feel free to comment on the stories or ask me anything about them as well as the aforementioned subjects or some of my other favorite topics – marriage, motherhood, all things southern, all things Charleston (yes, it is its own universe!), female friendships, the fine arts and (since I’ve been either a student or teacher of the subject for more than half of my life) literature and the writing process.
Hope, joy and peace,
Beth Webb Hart
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