I just finished my most recent novel, HOLD ME ONE LAST TIME. It has not yet been released. I am waiting for my proof copy to arrive in the mail so I can check the book for errors.
While I hope others will enjoy this story, I suspect the person who has or will benefit the most from my creative efforts is ME.
HOLD ME ONE LAST TIME is set in rural Brown County, Indiana, where I spent my childhood. Seven years before I was born, my parents, who were in their twenties at the time, embarked upon the venture of a lifetime. They left the life they knew in their Mennonite community in northern Indiana to move to Brown County in the southern part of the state. Their mission? To found a Mennonite church in a community that was decidedly un-Mennonite. They remained in Brown County for 25 years, until I was 17.
As with any such venture, my parents’ path was a rocky one. No doubt, they faced more disappointment than they ever thought they’d encounter in their church-building efforts. Of course, they expected their 9 children to support their work, to be part of their mission. This was a difficult environment for me to grow up in. Many times, I felt the mission took precedence over family life and the well-being of myself and my siblings. As an adult, the lingering pain resulted in me parting ways with the Mennonite Church.
Writing this novel required researching the history of Brown County. It also required delving deeply into my personal memories. Doing this brought something unexpected. It allowed me to walk in my parents’ shoes.
I suddenly understood how they viewed their mission as sacred, ordained by God. I understood what they faced when they left their snug Mennonite community and moved to rural, impoverished Brown County. I understood their discouragement when the mission didn’t unfold as they’d envisioned. I understood their frustration when their children failed to live up to the standards they wanted our family to maintain. Finally, I understood their sorrow surrounding the circumstances that led to their decision to leave Brown County.
Don’t let me mislead you. HOLD ME ONE LAST TIME is not about my parents or our family life. The characters are entirely fictitious. It just so happened that the byproducts of writing this story were acceptance and forgiveness
Most of all, the story is a gesture of love, a token of appreciation for the place of my childhood. Despite the difficulty of my growing up years, I look back with fondness on Brown County’s wooded hills, creeks, and winding roads. And most of all, the people.