About Behind the Books We Love From the Authors We Love
Books are often so much more than just a way to pass the extra minutes or hours of the day. Books are both a way to escape reality, as well as to reshape our reality with the values we take from stories or testimonies. Any dedicated reader likely has a favorite book that changed the way they looked at life or a situation, and that’s because authors–often intentionally–write their books from personal passions or experiences.
In our new blog series, we are sharing the purposes and inspirations of these books. Behind the Books We Love From the Authors We Love will be an ongoing series for the next few months and will feature authors of all genres to all ages of readers. You may recognize some of their books as being featured on Literature Approved before, and others are entirely new. But these posts are sure to give you a fresh look at a book that you loved, or may even motivate you to pick up one you’ve never read. We invite you to join us by checking back with us every couple of weeks, or ensure that you’re following us so that you get the articles in your email–who knows, maybe your favorite author will be featured?!
Behind Soldier On from Vanessa Rasanen
Regardless of what readers may think, I am not Meg.
Yes, I hear some readers scoffing over there. Does Meg share some of my traits? Sure. And yes, those who know me admit they can’t help but read some of her lines and thoughts in my voice.
Sigh. I should have worked harder to hide myself better.
Maybe I can chalk it up to new author naivete. Or not.
Unfortunately, the story behind my debut novel, Soldier On, is rather personal. Perhaps that makes it harder to keep myself from sneaking into my main character. Much of what she feels, I felt. Some of what she encounters, I faced.
Sigh. Maybe I should have worked harder to separate her story from my own.
Or maybe it’s okay to have our fiction inspired by life.
Ten years ago I was a young army wife who had just sent her husband off to Afghanistan. A month into that deployment his small team, which had been split up across the region at different camps and forward operating bases, lost a team member to an IED.
That hit all of us hard. It made that deployment and the danger he faced painfully real for me.
There were moments during that deployment where I experienced inexplicable waves of peace. And then there were moments when no peace came, no matter how much I prayed. The pain would sit and fester and not be soothed.
Many assume I wrote this book based on that deployment, and to a point that is true. There are scenes that come directly from our experience: the cupcakes the soldiers enjoy at Christmas, the monkey riding on the motorcycle, and Charlie sleeping through his buddies pounding on his door to take cover from mortars.
But the inspiration for the book goes beyond our personal experience, and even beyond military life and deployment.
It’s about faith in hard times. It’s about how we handle those moments when God chooses to remain hidden and withhold peace for just a little longer.
And it’s about how we find peace and comfort where He tells us to–in His Word–and how that peace and comfort may not be how we want it or demand it. It’s about trusting in Christ and not in our feelings. It’s about the truth that a life lived in faith is far from easy, that the enemy plants seeds of doubt to pull us away from Christ.
In many ways I suppose I am Meg. Though I haven’t endured all that she has, I have experienced those moments of doubt, the desire to avoid church and my fellow congregants, and the joy that comes in knowing that even if God seems hidden, He is working all things for my good.
In writing this book, I hoped readers might come alongside Meg, Charlie, Piper, and the others and know they aren’t alone, that the fears and doubts we keep locked tight in our hearts are not ours alone, and they are not insurmountable if we remember to seek God where He says He will come to us, in His Word and Sacraments.
This book won’t be for everyone. There is mild language and some crude joking among the soldiers, but my aim was to be true to these characters and to their story. It is not a light-hearted read, but it is one of hope and faith, a story of imperfect friendships, marriages under pressure, lives in danger, and faith at risk.
I pray it would be a blessing to those who read it.
When you read Soldier On, did you feel “reality” in Meg’s story? Does the experience from Vanessa’s own life make you want to read Soldier On? Drop a comment and let us know what you’re thinking and we’ll make sure Vanessa sees it!
Vanessa Rasanen is an Army wife and a mother of four. By day she is a data analyst. By night she writes, or rather she writes whenever she can squeeze in a few minutes here and there. This means she lives on very little sleep and loads of coffee. But it’s for the love of story and words and character-and by the grace of God-that she pursues this dream of writing.
Through her stories you’ll find Truth and in her characters you’ll find you’re not alone, as her writing balances the hard of this life with the joy we have in Christ, not shying away from the difficult seasons we go through, but facing them head on, thereby showing that we can overcome them-even if the victory we seek doesn’t happen this side of heaven. Her debut novel, Soldier On, was published in late October 2018!
Grab your coffee, and let’s read together!