Beth Moore, best-selling author of nonfiction and Bible studies, has entered the fiction genre with her debut novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus. Moore says that it was almost a given that she would one day write fiction because of her childhood influences.
“My mother all but ate books, and from the time I was six years old, my father managed movie theaters. My fate was sealed. I still love both forms of entertainment, but to this day, what I love best about a movie isn’t landscape or costume—it’s dialogue. It all boils down to words with me.”
Moore is quick to say that her first love is Bible study curriculum, but when an editor inquired if she would ever consider writing fiction, something sparked deep inside of Moore’s heart.
Her novel is rich in both character and dialogue, some of which Moore admits is based upon folks she’s known. She says that as she was writing this dynamic tale of slow-but-sure redemption, her characters began to take on lives of their own. “They’re all the kinds of people I’m somehow drawn toward, for better or worse. Jillian reflects some of my old insecurities. Adella, the manager, has a little bit of me in her but not as much as I planned. I just started liking the characters for themselves. They each sort of went their own way.”
Moore’s message throughout her text speaks to the pressing need many adolescent girls battle. “They’re only as valuable as they are desirable. Women develop an inordinate measure of their identity from how men respond to them. As many great guys as we know and can find out there, only Jesus gets to define an individual’s worth.”
Moore refutes that common belief that having any man is better than being without one. This woefully skewed idea of confusing one’s value with how a person is received by the opposite sex is delved into deeply by the author. Moore states that she’s pro-relationship and still believes in romance, “but how on earth do we know what we have to offer any relationship when we don’t even know who we are?”
GOING TO GREAT DEPTHS
Moore goes even deeper into her characters’ souls when she focuses on their ongoing battle against shame and failure. Layer upon layer, she skillfully guides her characters to unearth those areas of their lives where they are paralyzed. “It’s one big miserable cycle. We feel shame and we don’t even know why. Our shames sets us up for failure. Our failure creates more shame. Increased shame brings on more failure.”
She succeeds in driving home the message that until individuals (fictional or not) allow God to break the cycle, shame and failure will bury them. Moore also speaks to the most common response from feeling personal shame: isolating ourselves from the very people who can help us most.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
Another timely topic woven through Moore’s text is the sense of needing a place to call home. “We’ve never been in touch with so many people and felt more alone. What can throw us off is that we often think we can’t belong together if we don’t look alike, seem alike, think just alike. We’ll miss some of the most wonderful people we’d have ever encountered if we’re unwilling to look beyond skin tones, stereotypes, socioeconomics, and church walls.”
Speaking from a purely practical point, Moore believes that writing is a compulsion and whether or not her debut fiction title does well isn’t the point. “It’s not well-planned, well-timed, or well calculated.” She simply knows that when God puts the message upon her heart to write on a specific topic, she obeys. Moore’s heart motivation is to tell people “how wonderful Jesus is. What He’s capable of doing. Who He’s capable of transforming. I want them to know that my life’s been messy too. I’ve felt hopeless, too. Caught. Self-destructive. And I want them to know how all that changed.”