Since the publishing of my novella There is a Season, I’ve received letters and emails, as well as had conversations with readers about the book, the origins of the story, and how it has impacted lives. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of them, good and bad, but mostly the good.
I thought I would write an article about the book, answering common questions and addressing aspects of the book that usually come up when talking about it with readers.
There is a Season was my first long form story. It’s a novella because it isn’t long enough to be a novel, nor is it short enough to be a short story. I like novellas, but I didn’t start out writing one. My hope was to have a novel; however, during the writing process, I realized that it was not to be. The best part about writing a novella is that it’s great practice for a novel. Forty-thousand plus words is no small feat, and it prepares you for the grandness of a novel, which I eventually wrote with The Final Round.
I’m often asked if There is a Season was based on a true story. I’m happy to say that it was not. Although, it was inspired by bad news that ran wild with my imagination.
The character of Tom Hatcher was tromping through my head for years before I sat down to write the story. I had the idea of a man that had everything and was living the American dream, only to have it snatched away by tragedy. Often the idea mirrored my worst fears and other times, it had a life of its own. Then one day, a very good friend of mine called and told me that doctors had diagnosed him with cancer. If you’ve ever had a close friend or family member share this sort of news, it has the ability to hit you square in the jaw, making you dizzy and sick with fear.
As I dealt with the news in my own way, Tom Hatcher kept knocking on my door. I didn’t realize it then, but he was also my muse and was telling me that I needed to write his story.
My friend had it all: a wonderful family, great job, a nice home in the country, friends everywhere he turned. He was living the American dream and loving it. The fear that swept through everything when he was diagnosed was unavoidable. Yet, my friend was a rock. Eventually, after surgery and treatment, he was declared cancer free, and all was well.
Yet, Tom Hatcher continued hounding me.
Finally, it was too much. His consistent knocking and nightly badgering was becoming a problem. He insisted on me telling his story, but I had a problem. Tom Hatcher didn’t have cancer. He was a picture of health. He was climbing the ladder of success and enjoying the ride. I knew something bad had happened to him, but I had no idea what. That is, until I took a look at his family.
Cancer is a terrible disease. I’ve lost family members and friends to it. I’ve watched family members and friends battle it. I’ve heard stories of triumph and defeat. Even the triumphant stories are terribly gut-wrenching. It’s something that just about everyone in the world has dealt with in one way or another. And I was going to make Tom Hatcher deal with it, but as a powerless bystander.
Tom’s daughter, Tiffany, is a precocious six years old. She’s adorable, friendly, instantly liked, and well loved. Giving her cancer wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. The only way I could show Tom Hatcher overcoming his greatest obstacles was to destroy the very thing he loved the most.
I had no idea how the story was going to end. I didn’t outline. I only had a vague idea of how Tom was going to come out in the end. Ultimately, I was just as surprised by the ending as every reader who has written to me. I cried, also, and my heart broke to pieces. It was a magical moment as a writer, but a horrible one as a reader.
There is a Season is a tragic tale, but I didn’t want to end on a tragic note. Some readers have disagreed with my choice, but in order to show Tom’s growth as a man, I needed to carry it through.
Another aspect of the novella that many have written to me about is the religion woven throughout the book. Some were pleased, even happy with its message. Others were disheartened by it. What readers don’t understand is that There is a Season is not a religious book or story. I didn’t sit down with the thought of writing a message story. I had no purpose other than to tell the story of Tom Hatcher. Religion just happened to be a part of it.
I don’t consider There is a Season to be a spiritual book or Christian fiction. It is merely the story of one man’s tragedy and how he dealt with it. What is important to note, however, is that no one in There is a Season is perfect. They are all flawed characters, just as it is in real life. And we all react accordingly.
There is a Season is a special book for me as it was my first. It is also special because it has had a positive impact on readers. A writer can only hope for such praises.
For the summer, this little book is at a special low price of $0.99 for Amazon Kindle users. If you haven’t picked it up, give it a shot. It’s worth the time.
Thanks for reading.