Ever hear of Six Degrees of Separation? Well I, for one, am a believer. Here’s what happened to me:
Back in my just-getting-started-as-a-writer-days, I wrote a biography for children on John Newton, the 18th century slave trader turned captivating preacher-turned staunch abolitionist (John Newton: The Angry Sailor). Oh yes, he was also the author of the well-loved hymn Amazing Grace–which is his personal story, by the way
That little 124-page chapter book really did well. It went through 34 printings and was translated into nine foreign languages.
Well, three years ago I got an email from a guy named Mike in Ireland. Seems he was intrigued by that kids’ book, and especially by the fact that after the horrendous storm that turned John Newton’s life around, John was rescued from sure death by the good folks of Lough Swilly, Ireland.
“Come to Ireland,” Mike said. “‘I’ll take you out to the point at Lough Swilly.”
Ha ha, I answered. Sure. Right.
“Write another book about John Newton,” Mike urged. “A full length one for adults.”
Ummm, there are already such books out there, Mike.
But Mike and I stayed in touch. And through his urging, an editor contacted me about the follow-up book I actually wrote. (Once Blind: The Life of John Newton. It was simutaneously released in the U.S., London, and Hyderabad, India, in 2007.)
Then one day Mike called me on Skype and said, “Can you get a plane to Dublin next week? A team is going to be screening the movie Amazing Grace throughout Ireland. Can you come over and be part of that team?”
I did. And it was great.
On my first night there, I attended a gala where I met several members of Parliament and shook hands with Ian Paisley. I also met a guy named Billy who bragged that he was an IRA fighter.
This is me with the local mayor.
When you take up your pen to write a book, get ready for anything. You never can tell what might happen.
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.