I don’t remember what gave me the idea for this series. I think it was the fact that I felt there weren’t enough stories like it with accurate growth and character development. This series is very important to me, to put it lightly. It surrounds topics that are very close to my heart.
I grew up much as a mixture between Luka and Harlan’s characters. I had very strict, religious parents while also being extremely poor. My parents did the best they could for us, but some weeks it wasn’t enough, and we didn’t always have food on the table. I wanted to depict what poverty is like in the United states and how it affects the youth of America.
I also wanted to highlight the flaws in religion and force people to think critically about the faith they so blindly follow. As someone who grew up in a household where God was on every wall and around every corner, I know what the strict indoctrination of the young people in church is like. It’s basically brainwashing, then the culture in the south just makes it so much more difficult to get away from.
I struggled with my faith and how it aligned with my sexuality. I went into a deep depression where I began to self harm and I spent months wondering why god would do this to me when it was wrong. I cried all of the time and prayed to a God I wasn’t even sure was there. My boyfriend, at the time, was an atheist and we would have long conversations about God and religion. He was always so unbiased in the way he spoke to me, which was a stark contrast to the church I grew up in.
I decided to take a religious studies course in college to understand it and other religions better. I thought that I would easily get an ‘A’ since I grew up in church and owned three Bibles, two of which had my full name engraved on them. I was wrong. The class taught me so much, I was in awe. It piqued my interest to the point that I declared a double major before the class had even finished.
After studying religion in many different forms for years, I proudly call myself an atheist. I believe in nature and energy, but that’s the extent of my ‘religion’. This series doesn’t attack religion in any way. My characters state facts and make logical arguments. There is nothing inherently wrong with believing in a higher power, but there is wrongness in torturing those who don’t.
I put a lot of myself in this series. My heart, soul and poison in my blood make up the cover, spine and ink on the page. I used so much of myself that you will feel like you know me after you finished reading it. Please understand that this isn’t my personal story in any way. Many things that happen to the characters never happened to me, but I spent hours pouring over research to ensure accuracy.
I am from the southern part of the US myself. The depiction of the culture is accurate to many areas. Harlan’s name actually came from a county in Kentucky. There is a song that Brad Paisley covered called “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” I chose that name because the song really sums up the feeling you get living in these types of impoverished areas. You will never get out. You will die there.
This series is real and raw, much in the way that life is. I did not want to skim over certain topics because they are sensitive. I wanted to tackle them head on because leaving them ignored and in the dark is a huge part of the problem. You cannot see a problem if the lights are turned off and you allow it to dwell in the darkness of society.
Pre-Order your copy of Born and Sickness, Book One of the Take me to Church series today. It will be out March 23rd. I am nervous and excited to share this little piece of myself with you.
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