Paula Huston is the author of the newly released novel A Land Without Sin. She is also the author of Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit, The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life (both of which I highly recommend), and many other books. I invited her to write about A Land Without Sin.
I’ll admit, it does sound a little far-fetched. But there is a back-story here. In fact, I was a fiction writer long before I began writing books like THE HOLY WAY. I wanted to be a novelist from the time I was about seven years old, and actually began practicing way back then by writing a 36-page thriller about King the Dog, a super-canine hero who looked and acted an awful lot like Rin Tin Tin. I took creative writing in high school, but got really serious about short story writing in my early twenties. Since I had opted to get married and take on a full-time job in my late teens rather than go to college, I had no formal training, but I soon figured out that the library was full of great teachers. I checked out all the BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORY anthologies I could get my hands on and studied the techniques of my favorite writers.
I sold my first story to a literary journal when I was about thirty, and by the time I actually went to college four or five years later (I’d been through a divorce by then, along with an eye-opening stint as a single mom, so I was more than convinced it was time to get a degree), I’d published quite a few of them. A few years later, now remarried, a new step-mom, and armed with a Master’s in Literature degree, I got a job teaching at the local university and began trying to put together my first short story collection. But one of the pieces, which was about the classical piano world at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, began to grow uncontrollably, and pretty soon I realized I had an infant novel on my hands. DAUGHTERS OF SONG was published by Random House in 1995.