Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Button Girl: An Interview with Author Sally Apokedak and Autographed Giveaway Part II

 Last week I reviewed Sally Apokedak's young adult fantasy, The Button Girl. This week, I'm happy to provide an interview with her about the story behind writing this thought-provoking novel for Christians, non-Christians, young women and adults.


CAROL: How did you come up with the ideas for this book?  

SALLY: I had a hippy friend who had named her children things like: Glory Ofgod, Selah Praise, Faith Alone, and so on and so forth. And then my pastor told me that Naomi's two sons were named Disease and Famine. And that gave me the idea to set up a society where people are named for what God is doing in the lives of the moms. 


My daughter had just become a teenager and I wanted to write a book that would help girls see something I did not know as a girl--there is a big difference between lust and love. Kevin DeYoung said in one of his sermons that men want to see porn and women want to BE porn. But I think that most women don't really want to BE porn. They want to be loved and, when they are young, they don't understand that lust does not equate with love.  


So I painted a very bad villain and a very good hero. They are so black and white that they may seem almost cartoonish. But they were painted that way with intent—to show that lust is selfish and love is selfless. 


But many things are not as black and white as lust and love are. The world is messy. There are a few gray areas and there is a lot of foggy thinking. 


People are complex. So in the book the tutor was rightly opposed to slavery, but for the wrong reasons. The king was not opposed to slavery, but he was a more honorable man than the tutor.  


So I set up a book full of contrasts with a mountain and valley, and with slaves and masters, and with fog and sunshine. I wanted to show the difference between not only lust and love but also to examine contentment and apathy and idealism and integrity. Does civil disobedience mean we are complaining against God? I looked at my own life to find places where I struggled to know how to obey God. In the end, Repentance is very much a picture of my sixteen-year-old self.   



CAROL: How long did it percolate before it became a book?  

SALLY: I started in 2006. Wrote about five chapters and then ran out of story. I didn't write any more on it, because  . . . writing novels is hard work. And I struggle with rough drafts. 


Life happened. My husband died of cancer. I took care of my mother and my father after that. My dad died. 


I finished the book in 2009, so the book took four years to write from conception to completion. But actual writing time was probably five months.  


I burned through three agents and got a few offers from smallish houses, which we turned down. And in the end, I published the book myself in 2017. So eleven years from conception to publication.  


CAROL: How much did your faith affect writing it? 

SALLY: God was uppermost in my mind as I wrote. 


Sober is a type of Christ in his love for Repentance—in the way her sin cost him and in the way he still loved her—and in his substitution of himself for Comfort.  


But I have always wanted to write a character who is a type of God the Father. I’ve wanted to show the sacrifice that the Father made when he ordained that his Son would die. God the Father gave up the One he loved most to save a sinful rebellious people who set themselves up as his enemies, so I had a character make that same sacrifice. 


But mostly, I wanted to write a book that would make girls think about a few things. Is there a God who created us? Is there a God who allows slavery? If God allows slavery—or any sin—without striking the sinner dead, does it follow that he is in favor of the sinners/slaveholders? Is such a God unfair? 


I left up in the air who was saved and who was not. I ended the book with Repentance coming to see Providence was blessing her, whereas in the beginning of the book she felt cursed. But I didn't go farther than that because her world is not our world and people there aren't saved the same way people here are saved. 


Providence was not meant to look too much like our God. The god in the book was a simple metaphor that showed one aspect of our God. He was the provider—and he was more than a clockmaker who wound up the clock and ignored it. He was a god who cared about Repentance and was working things together for her good. But he was not a god who sent his son to die for sinners. This book was not meant to lead people to Christ. It was meant to make them ask: Is there a God? Do the unfair circumstances in this world prove there is no loving God watching over us? And if we wait long enough, will we see that everything will, indeed, come out right in the end?  


Leave a comment if you would like to be entered into the giveaway. If you left a comment last week, then you will be entered twice. A winner will be chosen on July 2. Continental U.S. addresses only. PLEASE leave me your email address if you are new to my blog. 


Sally is an author, agent, and speaker. You can find out more about Apokedak Literary Agency on her website. 

Two years ago I was fortunate to attend a
writer's retreat led by Sally.


Lisa Fowler said...

Always great knowing the backstory behind the writing. Thank you, Carol for the interview. Sally is a kind, compassionate, Godly lady. I’ve no doubt this is an excellent read.

Rosi said...

Thanks for the interview. I will pass on the giveaway.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Wow! This sounds so intriguing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your giveaway.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Connie and Lisa. I think both of you would enjoy this book.

Terri DeGezelle Michels said...

Thank you for sharing your back story. I think we can learn so much for the backstories of others. I appreciate your time and talent.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Terri. I'll add your name to the giveaway list!

Helena George said...

I love hearing the inspiration behind stories!! And allegorical stories are always so interesting to read - they really make you think!

Carol Baldwin said...

YEs, indeed, Helena!

JoyceHostetter said...

Love the photo. Reminds me of that lovely weekend we spent with Sally!

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