Eating disorders, sexual abuse and plans for revenge might not seem like the raw materials for an uplifting story for young adults. But Summer Fades—a new book from author Amanda Bews, published by Signs Publishing—is also a story of healing, hope and forgiveness.
“The issues grow out of my interaction with contemporary culture,” explained Ms Bews, a school teacher and a parent. “After I have worked out which issues are being addressed, the characters and their stories develop.”
Her research includes reading biographies, newspaper articles and academic journals but also—at a later stage of the writing process—input from relevant experts and professionals. In the writing of Summer Fades, this consulting team included paramedics, a doctor, a psychologist, a counsellor and a sexual abuse survivor.
“Authenticity is important,” Ms Bews said. “I would never want someone to read one of my books and say, ‘No . . . it would never happen like that!’”
So why a story rather than a textbook? “Stories impact our hearts,” Ms Bews explained. “They are memorable and can lead us to knowledge that mere delivery of information cannot do. In the case of Summer Fades and Heaven Sent, the stories generate discussion and allow serious and often uncomfortable issues to be explored in non-threatening ways.”
For Ms Bews, the question and possibilities of faith are also an important part of a response to these social issues—and of her stories. “When they read the books, I hope young people are encouraged to explore how God wants to be a part of everyday life, give wisdom in all areas of life and see how biblical principles apply to contemporary issues,” she said.
Following the publication of Heaven Sent in 2013, Ms Bews said she has a greater appreciation of the number of people involved in the publishing process. “The words might be mine but so much more has to take place before it finally makes it into the hands of a reader,” she said. “I want to acknowledge the support and help I’ve had from all these wonderful people. I am so grateful for every one of them.”