An Open Letter About My Book “Out of Darkness”

Oh, the joys of the internet! I tend to be a private person. I’m not much of a sharer in my day-to-day life, even with friends I trust. So you can imagine how guarded I tend to be on the internet. But then I remember that I actually published two books which arguably bare my soul. Talk about vulnerability. So if I’ve put my work out for the world to see, I might as well dissect it a little bit so people understand my message clearly, right?

Some people are attracted to my debut novel, Out of Darkness because it looks ‘dark.’ But I know that others shy away from it. I’m okay with that. I know that not everybody will like it or understand it and I have to accept that. But I also wanted to put a clear statement out so that people don’t misunderstand what I represent.

My intention is not to glorify violence. 

There is a lot of that going on these days and I don’t like it. I will turn a program off or stop reading a book if I think that’s what it is doing. But simply depicting violence is not the same as glorifying it. Sometimes violence is just an honest part of the story. Even in that case, I don’t think it’s necessary to go into graphic detail. But sometimes violence is an analogy for something more. In The Lord of the Rings, we recognize that the gory battles are symbolic for the battle of good against evil in this world. Tolkien may not describe them in gory detail, but that’s what they are and there is no getting around that. But he uses them masterfully as a backdrop to get his messages of hope across.

I did not grow up in America. I grew up in a place where violence was very real. And by the age of six, I understood the atrocities men commit against each other. So I hope no one ever accuses me of taking violence lightly. Now you’re all thinking that Out of Darkness is a bloody war saga. It really isn’t, I promise! But there is some violence (non-graphic) and there are definitely some scenes on the dark side. But they only exist to amplify the light at the end (thus the title!).

I also want to add that, like Tolkien, the fighting and the struggles are symbolic of very real emotional battles that I have experienced. It would be too real to write the actual account. And so I created this science-fiction-parable of sorts to convey the emotional equivalent and show how hope can still come out of brokenness. 

It’s interesting…I started working at a behavioral treatment center for at-risk teenagers after I wrote this book. These were girls who had been abused, traumatized, and cast off by the world. They were victimized by people they trusted and eventually learned to victimize themselves. It was heartbreaking. I spent two years de-escalating them, telling them they didn’t have to be victims, encouraging their talents and skills, and trying to help them see the world through a different lens.

And that’s when I realized I really needed to publish this book. Because there is so much content out there that is sending all the wrong messages: you are a victim of your circumstances, bad choices don’t have consequences, rebellion for rebellion’s sake is cool, and “you only live once” so make stupid decisions. Most adults dismiss it as “entertainment.” But believe me when I tell you that teenagers are hearing and seeing these messages and they are acting out on them.

So I wrote this book to answer questions in my own heart:

-Am I a victim of my circumstances?

-When people make decisions that affect my life (which I have no control over), can I still find a way to be my own person?

But in truth, I published it for all of the girls I worked with, who I still dream about, and who I pray every day are not lying dead somewhere.

If you made it this far, thank you for listening! I know that many of you are writers and authors trying to put positive messages out into a dark world and I salute you for that! Let’s keep fighting together.

Click here to find out more about the actual plot of the book.

If you’d like to start a conversation, leave a comment below, or feel free to e-mail me: ebdawsonwriting@gmail.com

Sincerely,

Beth Dawson

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