I’m one of those authors who finds it a bit strange to review one’s own books. But I have a couple of announcements to make regarding this novel of mine, and I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite (and not so favorite) parts of this story and its process.
First, the announcements: New cover design! No, it’s not much different than the original design, but I love the colonial-style typography and the addition of hazy sunset mountains behind the silhouette of our hero. It reminds me of this story’s setting and the “quest” feel of the second half in particular. (Promise of Refuge, the short story prequel to Preacher on the Run, also has new cover art.)
Also (drum roll, please), Preacher on the Run is now available on Amazon in paperback! After three years of selling the paperback version only through my website, it’s time to widen its reach a bit. I’ll still be selling both the new cover edition and the original cover edition on my website, so if you’d like to purchase a copy directly, you’re more than welcome to do so. (Plus newsletter subscribers can get discounts there. Just sayin’.)
Now, on to the “review.” I still think this setting is as interesting as it was when I first wrote it—it’s the American Revolution, yet it’s not. It’s such a little-known period in American history, which is why I chose it in the first place. The Thirteen Colonies didn’t just wake up on July 4, 1776, and decide to have their independence. I love that this story and these characters let me explore that setting a bit and show what it might have been like for some of the people who were caught in the midst of the Regulator Uprising. Readers often ask me who my favorite character is. That’s a hard question—Robert Boothe is the hero, after all. And I do like him. But Alec Perry usually wins the contest. He wasn’t in my original outline at all, but around chapter 12 I realized I needed a second Regulator leader, and he essentially jumped out of the mental bushes, so to speak, and told me to write him. So I did. One does not argue with Alec Perry. Mitchell Boothe and Hank Jonas are close runners-up, as many readers have also noted. And I love Magdalen Boothe’s strength and support for her husband.
The spiritual theme of the book is another subject that often comes up. Readers often say they can relate to Robert’s struggles to fully trust God. Well, so can I. And I am thankful that his story went the way it did. His inner conflict did not come easily. In fact, I wrote most of that theme into the book after finishing the first draft and wrestling to pin down what it was that made this hero tick. In the end, the theme of trusting God no matter what fit perfectly with Robert’s character. I thank God for his goodness in bringing those elements together. But here’s the thing—God would still be good to me even if he hadn’t brought those elements together. I think that’s really what it comes down to.
What don’t I like about Preacher on the Run? That sounds kind of strange. But I suppose any author looks back on a debut novel after three years and sees things that could have been done better. I see some ways in which my writing style was still developing. The villains don’t always sound as upper-crust as I would like. The first half takes a bit too long to build the main conflict. And I wonder sometimes, if I were to write this over again, would Robert’s escape from jail look the same? It’s not what I probably would have done in that situation, something that becomes clearer to me as our political world continues to become more like Robert’s political world. But it’s probably authentic to what he and his men would have believed was right, and that’s the first priority of a historical novelist.
Speaking of historical authenticity, one aspect of researching Preacher on the Run that I really enjoyed was the dialect used by my characters. Is it 100 percent accurate? Probably not, which the author’s note acknowledges. There are no audio clips of eighteenth-century settlers. But I learned an amazing amount of linguistic history and some fascinating things about the way modern-day Appalachian dialect has its roots in the original German and Scots-Irish dialects, leading some researchers to believe that colonial speech patterns were much closer to current Appalachian speech patterns than many people realize. Since I love words and history, this kind of thing is fascinating to me. I may do a blog post on it someday—but then, it probably isn’t quite as fascinating to most people as it is to me.
I draw the line at rating my own book (if you rate your own books, more power to you, and if you rate mine, you have my thanks), but all in all, I recommend Preacher on the Run to readers who like to learn history through the eyes of engaging characters and like strong Christian elements woven into their stories.
(There. How did I do?)