Anne was one of the first writers I really came into contact with when I was young. I’d known her most of my life, but as I was first showing interest in writing books about woodland creatures battling for pastoral domination, Anne’s career as an author was truly taking shape. Anne Chancey Dalton is the author of such books as Massacre Island and Dream Ghost, and has been my friend for many years.
This is a letter she recently wrote to me after her reading of Megabelt
I congratulate you on the publication of Megabelt. I recently read the difference between a writer and an author: an author has not only had the self-discipline to write, but has rewritten, revised, sent it off to editors and done whatever was necessary to get it published. You have done all of this and done it well. Your prepublication promotion puts you far ahead of most authors.
Since I’ve had no classes in literary criticism, I’m just giving my opinions about various aspects of the book. I feel it was a wise decision to write the book in the third person. You accomplished what you described in the second paragraph on page X of the Foreword. The authenticity of the book is evident—you said what you wanted and needed to say in an honest straightforward manner. More importantly, you achieved this without coming across with an attitude of “I’m going to see exactly how many people I can offend.” I was not offended by anything in the book, agreed with most of it, but had a slightly different point of view on a few things because of my age and experiences. You jumped a giant hurdle by overcoming or controlling your internal censor.
I really like the humor. Several places I laughed out loud—especially the last sentence in the book. I thought it was a fantastic ending!! I completely identified with the references to Gil’s mother thinking she was Jewish. On p.34 “The bride wore a dress the same white as fresh parking lot paint (as to accentuate her virginity)” was funny and a unique description. Was this original or have you heard it before? Since I love words, I enjoyed the Glossary of Belter Terms especially evangelist, stadium whisper, and sulfur pie. What individuals find humorous varies greatly, but if you’d like, I’ll send you a list of things I found funny.
There are many true and touching thoughts and comments as well as good descriptions in the book. I’d be glad to send you the locations of these if you are interested.
I commend you, Henry and Jody for the lack of typos. I only found one!
With a teacher’s guide, I think Megabelt would be a good resource for young adult Sunday School classes. Perhaps you or Henry are thinking in this direction.
As you may already have discovered or will discover, you can leave the Bible Belt, but it’s influence won’t leave you. So you have to come to terms with it. I think Megabelt is a great start for you.
May this book change the hearts and lives of many!