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As authors, we're kind of expected to simultaneously pour our lifeblood onto the pages of our books, and at the same time, remain apart from them, to cleanse and cut any obvious ties between ourselves and the story we're telling. Our books are both about ourselves, our issues, our struggles, our moral and ethical dilemmas and... Not. Most of the time, it isn't until I've finished writing a book that I look back at it and go "oh. I guess I was trying to figure x out still." Daughter was different, though. Daughter was the book that I knew was going to make me bleed from the start. The book I wasn't ready to write. The book I knew was going to make me deal with all my fears regarding my own faith, my own failings, my own existence in this crazy world we live in.
I am not Emma. Let me put that out there first and foremost before I go any further. I am not Emma, but I have felt the things Emma has felt. Emma's fears have, to a vastly different extent in some ways and to a similar degree in others, been my fears -- and this blogpost is proof that I haven't conquered all those fears yet. That I am still struggling with some of the things that Emma struggles with. Because although I am not Emma, I am, like Emma's character, a pagan polytheist. A Heathen, specifically. My spiritual experiences have been prevailingly Germanic-Norse, not Abrahamic. And let me tell you, squaring all that up with a Catholic upbringing was... pretty terrifying for me. Even more so when I realized I was suddenly on my own, alone, without the comfort and support of the Church to provide a community for me anywhere I went in the (Western) world, without the reassurance that there were literally millions of other people out there who shared in what I believed.
There is so much strength in numbers. In community. There is so much power there to lift us up, or strike us down. And when we can't see ourselves in the community we've been immersed in, when it feels like we don't belong there anymore -- it is so, so hard. But that's what makes this book matter -- to me, maybe to someone you know, but didn't realize needed it, or maybe to you -- because I don't want it to be as hard for someone else. I want them to see themselves inside the community, somewhere, somehow -- even if it's just the community of people who love books.
It's as good a place to start as any.
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Okay, this post had me balling my eyes out! (This is @PursuingStacie from Twitter. Hi!) This book is literally my favorite book now of all time. And it has brought some unexpected changes for me. See, I was raised Baptist. Christianity is all I've known and loved. But this book got me thinking about my own ancestors. Ancestors born in Norway from my great-grandfather on back. And suddenly, their beliefs...Freydis' and Emma's beliefs...all started to make sense. And it's wonderful!!!! And terrifying!!! And I just had to reach out to you. Because I want to study and pursue this; because you get it, and I'm not alone. 💗ReplyDelete
You are absolutely NOT alone!!! And I completely understand the terror and the wonder, both -- I experienced the same feelings, coming from my Catholic upbringing. I hope and pray your exploration of your family history and faith tradition is less tumultuous than my own, and know that your response to DAUGHTER has made all the fear and blood and tears (past and no doubt yet to come) worthwhile, for me. (In fact, I was just despairing about the book today, so I'm extra that much more grateful to you for this comment and your tweets -- thank you so, so much for reaching out.)Delete
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If you're in the US, as part of my blogtour we'll be doing a giveaway of a gift card and a Mjolnir pendant, so keep an eye out! I'll probably do a paperback giveaway on my own blog at some point too. I mean, they're randomized, but when I do giveaways on my blog there aren't usually that many entrants so the odds are usually fairly good. (I can't speak to the odds in the blogtour giveaway, though.)Delete
I'm so glad this book came to you, also! I feel like the Universe did us both a solid :)