About Summer Fades

Marking the launch of Summer Fades, Amanda Bews talked about her stories and why they are important.

Why stories?

For thousands of years wisdom has been passed from generation to generation viastory. Jesus knew the value of stories. Stories impact our hearts, they arememorable and can lead us to knowledge that mere delivery of information cannot do.  In the case of Summer Fades and Heaven Sent, the stories generate discussion and allow serious and often uncomfortable issues to be explored in non-threatening ways.

Obviously you do quite a bit of research about the issues you write about but then how do these grow into acharacter and a story?

The issues grow out of my interaction with contemporary culture. After I have worked out which issues are being addressed, the characters and their stories develop—at times moving into more issues. It is then that I research the topics in depth and have the research inform the story. In researching an issue, I read biographies, newspaper articles and academic journals on the topic. After Ifinish the third draft I ask experts in that area to read the manuscript and make comment. For example, in Summer Fades, an ambulance arrives to take Summer to hospital, and I asked some paramedics to read through the scene and make sure that is how they would manage the situation. I also had a doctor, psychologist, counsellor and a sexual abuse survivor read the manuscript before I completed my final draft. They made suggestions and I made changes. Authenticity is important. I would never want someone to read one of my books and say, “No…it would never happen like that!”

What have you learnt in the process of having your books published?

I have realised how many people are involved in the making of a book. The words might be mine but so much more has to take place before it finally makes it into the hands of a reader. I wanted to acknowledge the support and help I’ve had from all these wonderful people. I am so grateful for every one of them.

Not only do you write about social issues but faith is also a significant component of these stories. Why is this link important?

My faith is intricately linked to all the decisions I make in life. The times when I have tried to “go it alone” are when things haven’t worked out for the best. When they read the books, I hope young people are encouraged to explore how God wants to be a part of everyday life, give wisdom in all areas of life and see how biblical principles apply to contemporary issues.

What responses have you received to Heaven Sent?

Just how many people have found themselves in similar situations to Heaven. Daterape is so much more common than I would have imagined. There seems to be agreat deal of concern about women’s drinks being spiked but the most used date rape drug is alcohol itself.  Reading Heaven’s story has allowed many people to open up about their experience—and, more importantly, explore and experience God’s power to heal.

Apart from the specific issues of anorexia and abuse considered in Summer Fades, what do you hope readers will take away from your new book?

There are three main things. I hope people might be more willing to think about why people act the way they do. We all experience life differently and many people have lived through extenuating circumstances, so we should always be kind and considerate. The second is Christ’s renewing, healing power and the third is how God works in and through genuine community. A healthy church family is a wonderful place in which to experience life change.

How can churches, youth groups and schools use Summer Fades as a resource?

There are Bible-study guides coming to accompany Summer Fades similar to the ones that can be downloaded to match Heaven Sent. These have been used successfully to generate conversation in youth groups and in school settings.