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OUT TAKES ...bits and pieces of story, research, and process


Several years ago I screwed up my courage and did something I'd imagined I could not do. I went to graduate school and earned an MFA in creative writing. I was over 50, and to my surprise, about a third of my class at Bennington also were mid-lifers. We had a lot of living under our collective belt and wanted to hone our writing to better give voice to our experience.

Many of us were already published authors. Since graduation, many of our other classmates have been published in literary journals, small press novels, and chapbooks. In this economy, it's been harder than ever for new authors to get picked up by major houses. But one of the lucky ones is my classmate John Coats.

I am delighted to tell you that John's first book ORIGINAL SINNERS has just been published by the Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster.

I have just received my copy, and am so eager to get into it. But even in advance, I can tell you that John's stories of being a liberal, open-minded Episcopalian minister in the south held me spellbound throughout my two years at Bennington. Many of the stories he told me are now in his book. Including the grotesque whisper campaign that was conducted against him by local Evangelists trying to run him out of town in retaliation for his liberal views on politics and the Bible. The fact that John outsmarted them with their own tactics tells you something about his wily and open mind!

John's is a take on the Bible that you have never heard before. He translates it for believers and nonbelievers of all persuasions, as a book of stories about people just like you and me. People who are struggling, flawed, confused, audacious, foolish, and needy, and striving. People, John is courageous to admit, who have no idea whether God exists, let alone in what form.

I'll report more fully after I finish the book!
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