Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pete Hautman Guest Post + Giveaway

Pete Hautman Guest Post + Giveaway

Pete is the Minnesota April Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob and he has written a guest post on Faith, fences, friendship and so much more. Read on for a little back story on his latest book Eden West.

The Fence Around the Water Tower

By Pete Hautman

Here's something you should know about vengeance demons: We don't group with the "sorry." We prefer "Oh God, please stop hitting me with my own rib bones." —Anya, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So…I wrote this book about a kid who grows up in a cult—

Oh God, another cult book. Please stop!

Hey, when I started writing Eden West back in 2002, “cult books” were not yet a “thing” in YA literature. Now it seems I’m late to the party. But when I started it I didn’t know that the book would be about religion.

Oh God, please stop! Don’t make me read about religion!

Sigh…such is the general consensus. The topic of religion is divisive, emotional, and far too dangerous for tender young minds. Unless of course they are reading from the point-of-view of their Parentally Approved faiths. That’s why so few YA novels mention religion at all. Best to pretend it doesn’t exist—just as most of us do, ninety-five percent of the time.

Twelve years ago I wrote a book called Godless about a boy who starts his own religion worshipping the town water tower. The reviews were great, but nobody was buying it. If Godless hadn’t won the National Book Award a few months later, it would have gone out of print. Religion does not sell books. (Well, except for the Bible.)

But whether or not we choose to acknowledge religion in our reading and writing, it’s kind of a big deal. Teens in particular struggle with it, especially when they are thrown into contact with other teens whose worldview is radically different. For most teens, dealing with questions of faith is an important part of coming of age.

While writing Godless I was thinking about how our beliefs divide and unite us, how they both create community, and how they separate us from others. I was thinking about fences.

Eden West began as a story about a chain link fence with a boy on one side and a girl on the other. I love fences, from the Great Wall of China to the twelve-inch rabbit fence protecting my Swiss chard. I like the geometry of them, the simplicity, the statement, the opportunities for self-indulgent metaphor.

On one side of the fence is an apocalyptic cult known as the Grace, and a boy named Jacob who knows no other life. On the other side is present-day Montana and a girl named Lynna. I found myself writing yet another book about a teen coming in conflict with his faith.

Eden West became a sort of inside-out version of Godless. Godless was about a boy whose own thoughts drive a wedge between himself and his faith. In Eden West, the driving force comes from outside: a girl, a wolf, the World. Naturally there is love, lust, betrayal, revelation, and redemption, because all books should have these things.

So, yeah, I wrote another book about religion. But really it’s about people. And fences.

Thanks Pete!

If you would like to win a copy of Pete's latest book, Eden West, please enter here:  Eden West Giveaway