Daphne Woods agreed to answer some questions for me. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I did.
What inspired you to write Meggie Brooks?
Iím a prodigious and voracious reader, but mostly I read classics, especially 19th-century novels. I love the language and the writing style of those writers, and I often feel rather let down whenever I read a contemporary novel, Christian or otherwise. I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was in the 5th grade, and Iíve read it numerous times since. Each time I return to it Iím just blown away by the beauty of the writing, the lyricism of the language and the phrasing of the sentences. Anyone who reads my novel will know I love Jane Eyre, as I reference it several times, and even offer a tiny bit of literary criticism on it toward the end of the book in a discussion Meggie has with Clark. Anyway, I feel that for the most part 20th- and 21st-century literature lacks that kind of beauty. I wanted to write a narrative that captured some of that beauty of language again. I wasnít trying to write in the 19th-century mode, but I wanted to write in a modern way and make it beautiful if I could. Iím often told the vocabulary in the novel is impressive, and thatís one reason. I wanted to elevate language. We have an entire dictionary of fabulous words, but ever since Hemingway weíve been convinced we canít use any of them! So, I wanted to write a compelling modern story, dealing with contemporary issues, and make it beautiful.
The actual story came to me as an experience that occurred in my own family. I wrote it in some ways as therapy, to get that family situation out of my system. That is the glue that holds the novel together, so to speak. I fictionalized it, of course, and made a mystery out of it, but I thought the whole situation with the family was interesting enough to make a good narrative.
Using that family situation, I wanted to show a contemporary Christian girl really grappling with contemporary issues and rising to the occasion. So many coming-of-age stories in our own time show the characters experimenting with sex and drugs and treating that as fine. I wanted my character to come of age and choose differently, to choose based on her Christian principles, but yet, to show the struggle with loneliness that would cause her. I wanted to show what itís like to be a Christian in a post-Christian age.
Finally, I am concerned about what I perceive to be the destructive nature of political correctness in our society. I explore several different aspects of it playing out in our schools and the world at large. Iím really depicting the creation of a socially and politically conscious character in Meggie. She goes through the trauma of trying to speak out early on in school with regard to global warming and decides to do what I know many conservative and Christian kids do in such situationsóclam up and shut up, because after all, theyíre just kidsóand she finally comes to a decision to speak out and to refuse to be silenced only after years of repression. Depicting this gave me a chance to show the discrimination I think many Christians and conservatives experience in public schools, secular colleges and universities, and the public arena.
How long did it take you to write this impressive novel?
Thank you for calling it impressive. It took me 8 years to write it, and two more to edit it. During those 8 years I was homeschooling my daughter and sometimes only worked on it over the summers. Other times Iíd put in a push for a few months at a time. Finally, I just went at it for many months and long days and got it done.