Today I’m delighted to introduce a guest Author on my blog, Latayne C. Scott. As a history buff, I’m excited about reading her new release. For those who leave a comment we will be doing a guest drawing for a free copy of her book.
Latayne C. Scott is the author of sixteen published books, including the most recent Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament’s Most Infamous City (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2013.) She also writes magazine articles and poetry, and is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for “creative Christian writing.” She blogs with five other novelists at NovelMatters.com, and on her own blog, Latayne.com.
For every story there is a backstory with a story. . .
I realize that most of Michelle’s readers love fiction. And I write fiction – murder mysteries like Latter-day Cipher, published by Moody—and have several other novels awaiting publication.
But God gave me a great challenge when an archaeologist friend, Dr. Steven Collins, approached me about co-writing a non-fiction book about a discovery he’s made that is rewriting history in a literal way. For seven years, under the auspices of the government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, he’s been excavating the long-buried site of Sodom—as in fire-and-brimstone, Sodom and Gomorrah.
All the drama of divine destruction, all the thrill of discovering artifacts! Embedded in the layers of the dig are broken and tumbled mud bricks, smashed and charred pottery vessels and other day-to-day objects, and human bones—all violently churned into a tell-tale, ash-filled matrix.
This is a book of topography and chronology and geology too, for this is a highly-documented document about a highly-documented excavation.
But how to draw the reader’s imagination into layers of dirt? That’s where my novelistic talents came into play—telling the story of a man who faced down the entire archaeological world’s speculations in order to follow Bible geography to its inevitable destination: the massive site of Tall el-Hammam just northeast of the Dead Sea. That’s the story behind the story.
But there’s another story behind that one. Just as the book contract from Howard/Simon & Schuster was in the mail to Dr. Collins and me, my husband Dan fell terribly ill with Guillain Barre Syndrome. He entered a paralysis so profound that for days his eyes didn’t even dilate. He spent six weeks unconscious in an ICU, and then four more months in other hospitals. I lived in the ICU for those six weeks, and practically lived in the others, too.
Without me even asking, my church, the Mountainside Church of Christ, organized itself into email lists and volunteer rosters. My book became their project. Dr. Collins turned all the data over to me.
For the four months it took me to write the 73,000 words of that book, the members of my church brought me meals and took over my other responsibilities, and sat at my husband’s bedside while I sat out in my car with a laptop and wrote in two-hour spurts (the life of my computer’s battery), with notes sticking out of the air conditioning vents and the crevices of the dashboard. At night I wrote using a lap desk or a small portable table in corners of the hospital rooms.
My two adult children and their families pitched in joyfully. Other friends near and far came and helped, sent money, encouraged me when the doctors continued to say that he wouldn’t survive the pneumonia, the intubations, the coding episodes, the kidney procedures, the C. diff, the hallucinations when he “awakened” months later.
But the book got written. It was a group project, you see: people who saw a vision for a book. In the midst of all that, we made my deadline. We wrote the book.
I hope when people read it they see not only the excitement of a world-class archaeology discovery. I hope they honor a man, Dr. Steven Collins, who believed the Bible not only for its doctrine but also for its geography and biographical details. I hope they read every endorsement from other experts as they praise Dr. Collins.
And I hope they see a whole community of people, regular, everyday heroes, who helped me write a book under the direst of circumstances.
All of this points to a great God, in whose name all of this was done.
I’d like to give away a signed copy of this book – to be chosen at random from the names of everyone who comments to answer this question: