My friend Nancy Rue has a new book out, in collaboration with Rebecca St. James. Nancy is the best-selling author of more than 100 titles for tweens, teens and adults. The Merciful Scar is her first book in the New Adult genre.
Nancy is a popular speaker and radio guest. She mentors not-yet-published authors one-on-one, in small group settings, and is a respected leader at the Glen Eyrie Writers Workshop.
About The Merciful Scar
The only relief Kirsten could find was to carve tiny lines into her skin, burying her pain in her flesh. The pain she caused herself was neat and manageable compared to the emotional pain that raged inside. She was coping, or so she thought. Until one day…the cut isn’t so tiny.
Nancy, this is your 30th year as an author–congratulations! As you reflect on your career, what is the thing you are most proud of?
I think I take holy satisfaction in the evidence that I really have helped people. Getting emails from girls who trust me, mothers writing to me saying “We could not have gotten through these tween years without you…” Those kinds of things just bring me such satisfaction because I know then that I’m doing what God wants me to do.
You’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry during that time, and it can be a little daunting for a not-yet-published author. What advice do you have for those of us at the beginning of the journey?
Write the best, most vivid, most powerful book you can possibly write. Let it come from your soul, no holds barred. Do what you need to do–take workshops, finding a mentor, whatever it is. Take your time to learn the craft and write that amazing book. Don’t try to get published too soon. Don’t write to the trends. In other words, focus first on the art and on the message that God’s given you, and don’t be overwhelmed by the publishing world and how difficult it is to get published. I still believe that great books will get published.
This was a collaboration with Rebecca St. James. What was the best part about working with her?
Finding out that she is the real deal. Sometimes we wonder about Christian celebrities–are they really what they seem to be, and do they live what they talk about? The first time I met her, I knew she was all that and more.
I know the topic of self-injury is very important to you. Tell us why you are so passionate about it?
Because it affects the young women that I minister to. It’s far more common than we realize and it’s highly misunderstood, so I really wanted to write a story so that people can understand this very disturbing approach to dealing with inner pain. When I asked on my blog of about 30 regulars if anyone wanted to help me with this story to please email me, and I got 8 responses, that was impetus enough for me.
Some of your research for this story was on a sheep ranch. Tell us about that.
I knew first of all that I wanted to set the story in Montana and when I started to research Montana I realized that sheep raising is huge in that state. So I asked my husband to find a sheep ranch online that I might be able to visit and spend the day. he came back with a sheep ranch that has a writer’s retreat right on the property. So we contacted Lisa Schmidt and her husband Steve, and they sounded amazing. They were very excited about the project. So, I went to Conrad Montana to the Graham ranch, and I was there for four days. I spent all morning on every one of those days doing everything that Kirsten does in the book, including helping to herd the sheep. I helped bring them back in at the end of the day. I bucked hay, fed chickens, mended fences and I had my own baby lamb I had to bottle feed four times a day. I even helped cut out the young male sheep to be taken off to market. No easy task! I was very sad to leave the ranch, and leave my little lamb (named little Nancy) and I’ll never forget the experience they provided for me. And, there is a very good reason why the Bible is loaded with sheep imagery. Just sayin’.
How has the writing of this story changed you?
It has deepened my compassion for what the teen girls and young women of this generation are facing. It’s forced me to take a really good look at the world they are living in and the future that looms before them. I’ve really developed a love for young women 17-30 and my heart breaks for them because they don’t have the same guaranteed success that the generations before them basically had, and it really makes me want to write more books to help them see they really can change things.
What else are you working on?
Right now I am finishing a book for tween girls called So Not Okay and it’s about a girl and her friends who are witnessing bullying and they decide they can no longer be bystanders. It’s the first of a trilogy called Mean Girl Makeover and each of the books is told from a different point of view even though it’s the same ongoing story. The second book is told from the point of view of the girl who is being bullied and the third from the standpoint of the bully herself. I’m having to look at all sides of the issue and my deep hope is that girls who read it will see how they can use both practical ways and changes in attitude to stop bullying in their generation.
Thanks so much, Nancy. One last question…How can we get a copy of The Merciful Scar, and where can we reach you?
The Merciful Scar is available at online stores like Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble, and also in Chapters Indigo, Barnes and Noble and Lifeway Stores. Contact me at Nancy@nancyrue.com. I’d also like to invite you to the teen blog community called In Real Life, a safe place where teen girls can talk about any issue including things like self-injury.