Also, American Pastime by Angelique Pesce & Finding God Abiding: Daily Meditations by Christine Marie Eberle will be release June 7, 2022.
Please note that all reviews, interviews and hype are welcome and if you're interested in providing any of this (or anything else) please let me know. All that and please do enjoy some cover copy below (and right before the interview excerpt from LitReactor).
From American Pastime: If you knew how your life was going to end, would you live it the same way? Adam is a writer having a conversation with God at a baseball stadium in the Bronx. God chooses Adam because his stream of consciousness since childhood has been heavy on commentary about American life connected to love. God narrates on Adam’s baseball field of life. Rounding first, second, third, and then heading for home, we watch Adam’s life: past, present, and future unfold. God is always in on things as he sees and hears everything, but now they sit side-by-side at a baseball game ear-to-ear, no longer separated by space. Their conversation is heavy on capitalism, culture, violence, religion, art, science, and hope. The art of conversation is in danger of being lost, but now more than ever we need to use our American pastimes to bring it back, ear-to-ear, device-to-device, and ask “What is love?” And, even further reaching, “If you knew how your life affected humankind, what would you do differently? SChClow down and think about the world and love yourself enough to change it. Will Adam find love as life stands in the way?
From Finding God Abiding: Daily Meditations: Through four weeks of daily meditations, Finding God Abiding identifies movements that run like threads through the story of our lives. We awaken to the world around us, discover and rediscover our path, practice love in its many forms, and grieve the loss of much that we hold dear. Gazing too closely at the tangled strands and frayed knots of our false starts and failures, often we see just the back of the tapestry, and one square inch at a time. Only God beholds it whole: not a random collection of short stories, but one great narrative of grace at work. Drawing on the author’s thirty years in ministry and her Jesuit education, each meditation contains a true story, a nugget of spiritual insight, thought-provoking questions, and a memorable Scripture quote. The recollections are simple: biting into a juicy peach; mending a broken pipe; weeping over a parent’s death. These common experiences invite the reader to consider their own story and discover there the God who abides as the one constant in a life marked by ceaseless change.
You both seem to embody the adage "write what you know" as well as anyone I've spoken to recently. I'm interested in what you see as the benefits and limitations of this approach to writing, and whether you even agree with my take on your work at all.
CHRISTINE: When I began working on my masters in pastoral ministry at age twenty-four, I did a concentration in pastoral care and counseling because the concentration I really wanted—spirituality—wasn’t available to anyone under thirty. At the time, it felt like reverse age discrimination, but now I see the wisdom. Any spiritual writing needs to be grounded in experience in order to be trustworthy. As I share my “four weeks of daily meditations based on true stories,” readers know that what they hold in their hands comes from real life—my own, or that of the people I’ve been privileged to accompany. I wrote the first nine chapters of my first book almost a decade before the other nineteen. While I put it in a drawer for reasons having nothing to do with the acquisition of understanding, I’m conscious that the book is more powerful and relatable because of all the things that happened to me in the interim—including the deaths of my parents, grandmother, forty-six-year-old cousin and nineteen-year-old cat. Bottom line: there is no substitute for—or shortcut to—wisdom. And yet, there is more than one way for a story to be “true.” If not, the fiction shelves in bookstores would be pretty thin! For example, my good friend David W. Burns has written a marvelous book called Heart of Stone that’s in the Pitch Week competition at When Words Count next month. His protagonist is a modern-day Medusa, making a living as a hit woman for hire in Chicago. Now, Dave has never met a Gorgon or protected a blind teenager from mythic assassins while fleeing for his life. But the emotional core of the story—the conflict his protagonist feels between the way she has always thought of herself and the better person she hopes (doubts? fears?) she could become: that’s real. On some level, a good novel is always a true story.
If the benefit of “writing what I know” is authenticity, a corresponding limitation is that I can’t tweak the stories I tell just to make a point. I can choose which details to include and omit, but I can’t have a “character” make an entirely different decision just so I can tie a neat spiritual bow on the chapter. The other limitation—which actually is a great gift—is that I can’t decide I’m going to be exclusively a writer, taking to my couch to start cranking out books. My writing is always in dialogue with my retreat work, as well as with all the other ways I engage the world as a person of faith, such as cantoring for funerals at my church. Each discipline—each conversation partner—informs and enriches the others.
ANGELIQUE: Writing what you know has a strong sense of giving back to the community what you have learned. I never want to deprive others who just have not had a teacher with my knowledge yet in their lives, although there are many of me in the world and I have learned from them. They were awesome teachers, professors, businesses, scientists, legislators, philosophers, librarians, artists, writers, theologists, doctors, parents, grandparents, creators, and lovers alike. Does it have limitations? Sure. It’s the difference between an echo and an invention. But the grand feeling is writing what you know gives back what you’ve learned. Once you share that with an audience, the good news is in the next book you can probably begin to invent, and erode the idea that there is any limitation. Together audience and author can give way to progress in art. And limitlessness, as you appropriately mention, can be achieved.