I write Cozy Mysteries. My mysteries are silly, fun, and highlight unique characters living in an unusual community. I thought I always wanted to only write lighthearted mysteries, until a book I read this past month touched me in a way that might change my mind.
A few weeks ago my oldest son said to me, “Mom, why don’t you write a serious book that everyone will want to read. You have it in you.” I laughed and was honored he thought I might be able to pull something like that off. I am happy writing fluff which makes people laugh. Then I read a book that made me change my mind. That book is a mystery called The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens.
Usually I read cozies, occasionally deviating from that practice to read something inspirational or a book that is a little more graphic.
I decided to read Author Allen Eskens book because I have met the author and liked him. I had read the reviews. The plot and cover drew me in.
I read books by friends and I am honest when I review them. If I feel I need to say something negative about the book I will email the author, or leave no review at all. I also don’t expect all my friends and family to like my books. I preface this before I talk about this book because I don’t feel in any way that I am obligated to comment about The Life We Bury. The fact is Mr. Eskens doesn’t need me to give a review or say anything, because I am small fish in a big pond and he is receiving accolades from the publishing world with his writing. My heart tells me I need to say something about this book because The Life We Bury took my breath away for many reasons.
The Life We Bury takes place in my own backyard of Southern Minnesota. The places Mr. Eskens mentioned are familiar to me. The book revolves around writing student Joe Talbert who must complete a writing assignment for an English Class. Carl Iverson is a convicted murderer and a Vietnam Veteran who is dying in a nursing home. His interview is going to be Joe Talbert’s assignment.
I could say so much more about the story, but much has been already written about the content. What struck me most about the book was the writer and his interpretation of the events in the book. Perhaps the reason I feel the need to comment is because I am a writer of fluff, but could feel the emotion inside of myself brought out by this story, this mystery, and a need to write for myself a story that shakes the depth of someone’s soul because there is a hidden life in all of us that we shy away from or we dismiss so we can live in today’s world.
It takes a great writer to show their emotion in their writing and let that emotion transport a reader into the story and perhaps remind them of hidden jewels of emotion in their own lives. That is what this book did for me. I felt I was inside Joe Talbert’s heart when he dealt with his mother’s alcoholism and the effect it had on his brother. I felt my husband’s pain when Mr. Eskens wrote about Vietnam. I know my spouse has experienced some of the same gut wrenching emotions while serving in Vietnam and kept those emotions hidden for a long time, somewhat like Carl Iverson.
As a writer of a very different genre I was awestruck when in the midst of a paragraph Mr. Eskens would toss in a little tidbit about the past. Doing that was genius and brings the reader back to the little things of the past we had forgotten. It wouldn’t have been anything I would have thought of adding to a mystery, but those little tidbits, which I don’t want to give you details so as to spoil the surprise, are little jewels making you feel as if you are a kid in a candy store receiving a treat.
I am an emotional person and I read this book with my emotions. That was the gift from an outstanding writer. I believe the author has to be in touch with the compassionate side of his soul and knows how to feel joy, love, anger, bitterness, and gives himself the freedom to share himself and those emotions with us through his writing.
Whether that is true or not, he did all that for me, as I lost myself in the book. I want to experience putting my soul and emotions into a book, a mystery, touching something deep in someone else. No other book that I have read has drawn that part of me to the surface. The Life We Bury did. For the reader I have a feeling each person who reads the book will find something different drawn out of themselves if they let themselves experience the emotion of the book.
It does not matter to me if the inspiration of this writer on my life results in a book that is noticed by the public. What matters to a writer is letting themselves feel their writing and translate that feeling to their readers. Can I give my readers that experience? Only time will tell. Thank you Allen Eskens for giving me the desire to change the story I write.
Read Allen Eskens best selling book The Life We Bury.
It will be a journey you won’t regret.
Julie, When an author sits down to write a story, there are so many hopes swirling around in his or her head. Will I finish a whole book? Will I get published? Will I find a readership? Will I get a good review? Etc. As those hopes become realized the one that remains at the forefront is: will readers like my novel? The most important goal of any writer is to reach their readers–to bring them enjoyment–to move them–to make them contemplate a world they otherwise would not have known. I am so happy to hear that my story touched you as it did because for me, above all other accolades, is hearing that readers enjoyed what I wrote. Thank you for expressing your appreciation with such eloquence. I am honored. Allen Eskens
Thank you for the nice words Allen. I appreciate them.