A writer friend asked me a while back to read her book and help in the promotion of it. It's a hard thing to ask another writer to add one more book to their reading list. Trust me, I know this. As busy as I was, I still said yes, because I know how hard it is to ask.
Please understand, it is hard to step outside one's comfort zone as a writer and become a salesperson, even if it's our own work. Especially if it's our own work. Why is it easier to plug a friend's work? I don't know, but...as busy as we are, we also make time for each other, because we know the struggle.
And can I confess that I was humbled that Sally asked me.
Now, take a leap with me, will you? And hang on.
I grew up in Vancouver, a big beautiful city...with a very very seedy underbelly. There are people who only come out at night, because the light of day is a frightening place. There are all kinds of broken people, and very few, listen to me, very very few women willingly engage in prostitution.
Well, that wasn't something you thought was coming, did you?
I bet you wouldn't expect me to say that, but there is pain in this world that many people choose to ignore.
Remember the woman who poured perfume on Jesus' feet? Or the Samaritan woman at the well?
Jesus, the King of Heaven, loved these woman. He allowed them to be part of His work, of His story, because He had a point to make.
When I was growing up, I went to First Baptist Church, which sits at the corner of Nelson and Burrard, in downtown Vancouver's West End. There's all kinds of corners in downtown Vancouver. And on some of those corners stand women who earn money by selling themselves for the pleasures of men. And do not think for one minute that all of those women want nothing more to do with their lives than to sell their bodies.
There was a small group of women at my church who'd arrive a few minutes late for church, every Sunday, and sit up in the balcony and listen with rapt attention. But whoa, their clothes!! All kinds of NOT churchy looking clothes! Over the months, they'd wear less and less make-up, and then they started to arrive on time, in very casual attire. And then they started to argue, audibly, during the sermons. Sermons about the unconditional love of God. I remember one weeping, saying "No, that is not possible!"
It was. It is. She, and all her friends, eventually trusted God enough to let Him work and soon, the joy on their faces was evident. The glow of God's love. Watching them each Sunday just about broke my "happy white girl with privileges" heart.
Who were they?
Some would call them hookers, tramps, prostitutes.
God called them His children, His daughters. He knew their names and their deepest secrets.
I will NEVER forget that woman. Ever. Seeing her face when she finally accepted that she was worthy of God???
But...perhaps in a high rise, sits a woman who is surrounded by elegance. A woman who wants the good life and sells herself to keep her pretty things. For her, night time is just the part of the day after the sun goes down. But what if someone sells her body, or his, let's be real, because they don't have a healthy example of love and family?
Enter Sally Bradley, and a story that blew me away. Like, BAM! I was stunned at the vivid and fresh voice, the character development, and the absolute grit it took to tell this story.
Now I'll turn it over to Sally....
Why Miska? Why a promiscuous, kept woman?
Seven years ago on ESPN’s SportsCenter, I watched an interview with a silhouetted woman who made her living by being available to a professional athlete when his team came to town. During the interview, the woman—features completely hidden except for the shape of a very distinct, short hairdo—talked about how all the athletes did that. All of them. I remember shaking my head, thinking how sad that she’d fallen for that line. Just because everyone she knew lived that way, didn’t mean everyone did. Like attracts like, you know?
Then she dropped her bomb—not only did she do this for one athlete, but for two. And each man thought they were the only one. I immediately thought, Honey, I hope you’re wearing a wig. Or they know now.
She haunted me. What on earth would make a woman live that way? And what would it take for her to see—and want—the truth?
In the ten years prior, I’d come across a recurring theme—women who’d been saved out of our world’s messed-up lifestyle. So cool, right? These women, multiple women, might have seemed far gone back in their partying days. But God had done a huge work in them. Had saved them, sanctified them, had given them new hope and life in Him.
But quite often these women struggled with guilt and regret about things they’d done. Some of them struggled a lot. Others feared that they couldn’t talk things over with a Christian friend because they’d be looked down on.
This combined with the SportsCenter interview to result in Miska Tomlinson, my heroine, and Mark Scheider, the married professional baseball player she’s in love with. I saw them almost immediately and knew Miska would have a dark, exotic beauty to her. This was not the sweet, cute, innocent girl next door but a woman molded by our image-driven, sex-crazed society.
But I still didn’t know why she lived the way she did. What makes a woman traffic herself this way?
After some thought, I came up with two options, one of which I didn’t want to explore because, first, it was a topic being explored a lot at the time and, second, because it was a place I didn’t want to go to. A writer really has to get inside her characters’ heads, and this option was one I didn’t want to have to face.
Which left me with one other option—that she’d grown up completely unchurched, had never had a father, and had completely followed society’s twist on love and relationships.
This scenario was also something I was also starting to see more and more of.
The fiction I long for is fiction that deals with life as it really is—but always from a Christian viewpoint. Sometimes we get so used to being in our church families and with Christian friends that we lose sight of how far our country has fallen from God. We have become a completely twisted, depraved society, and to keep on pretending that Christians have no pasts or struggle only with accidentally taking a pen home from work is, to me, not being honest and sticking our heads in the sand.
My goal in writing Miska’s story was to offer hope to women who’ve been where she is, to show them that they are incredible trophies of God’s grace and that their past no longer defines them. What I didn’t expect was to hear from numerous reader that Kept served up a strong reminder that no one is beyond God’s grace and that we, as Christians, need to always be offering others the hope He’s given us.
I cannot encourage you all to buy this book and read it. It is one of the most relevant, daring and beautiful stories I've read in ages.
Thank you for visiting us today, Sally. It's been an honour.
But...I never leave my Redheads hanging! Just leave a comment and I'll enter your name into a draw for an e-copy of Kept. I'll draw the winner on Monday, and you'll also hear what new adventure is up next for this Redhead.