I met Brandon Clements this September in Chicago at the STORY conference. We were in line for a deep dish pizza. We discovered that we were both novelists. His novel Every Bush Is Burning is available through Amazon.com. I’m warning you: don’t go into reading his work expecting a feel good, comfy cozy book. You will feel a bit uncomfortable at times. And, judging from a few of his reviews on Amazon, you might get a bit upset. But, push through and finish the book. Just trust me.
Today, Brandon shares how he came upon the writing of this novel.
Every time I read a novel that stirs me, I always ask the question: “Where did that book come from?”
What kind of background or story does the author have that birthed such a narrative? What inspired it to come to life, and what made it so meaningful that the author spent that much time writing it?
I think those are worthy questions, and I wish I could sit down with some of my favorite authors and ask them.
In the past year, I’ve been honored to have people read my first novel, Every Bush Is Burning, and ask the same question. (Like one reader I got coffee with that bluntly asked, “So what happened to you?” I laughed.)
The short answer to that question for me is, my book came from angst. It came from a calling from God, a love for Jesus and a simultaneous bad taste in my mouth for much of what I’d seen in the church. It came from sitting down and having gut-wrenching conversations with people I loved that had been hurt by the sins of the church, while begging them not to transfer that distaste to Jesus. It came from a hometown church business meeting fight that called in the cops, then later being part of a church family so beautiful that it made my eyes water.
I started writing it in college–a Donald Miller-esque apology to the world for the ways the church had misrepresented Jesus. Then, much to my dismay, I discovered that I was not in fact Donald Miller (something that I’m still getting over to this day:) I discovered that I was not near as funny or hopelessly charming and would have to take a different route.
Then at a pastor’s conference, I heard an Australian pastor talk about Revelation 3:20 say something that shocked all of us: “My question is, what the h@## is Jesus doing locked outside of a church?”
And that was the moment that the light bulb went off for me. I saw a homeless man claiming to be Jesus knocking on the door of a locked church service. The rest, as they say, is history (and blood, sweat, and tears).
That, in a nutshell, is the story behind my book.
I’d love to hear about any meaningful stories behind a book (that you wrote or just a book that’s important to you).