I’m super excited about the release of my next book, Newton and Polly, which hits shelves Sept. 20, next Tuesday!!
This is another historical fiction in the same vein as Luther and Katharina. And this one is about another hero of the faith, the writer of Amazing Grace, John Newton the atheist slave trader, and his beloved bride Polly Catlett.
One of the things I really enjoy doing with my historical fiction is shining the spotlight on a forgotten woman of the past. Unless you saw the Broadway show, “Amazing Grace” last year, you probably don’t know much about Polly Catlett (also known as Mary).
I certainly didn’t know Polly existed, not until I started digging deeper into Newton’s life. What I discovered about their relationship amazed me. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that without her, Newton may never have been drawn away from the slave trade and thus may never have written the most moving hymn the world has ever known.
I’m thrilled to be able to bring Polly Catlett out of the shadows and into the spotlight. But I have to admit the process of bringing this book to life was extremely painful on many levels. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that Newton and Polly is the hardest book I’ve written.
First the book was challenging to write on a technical level. The plot spans many years from the time Newton and Polly first meet until the end when they finally reach their happily-ever-after. I had to figure out how to breech the passages of time realistically as well as deciding which scenes to bring to life and which ones to summarize.
Second the book was difficult on an emotional level. I went through a period of spiritual rebellion during my youth, and so Newton’s spiritual falling away dredged up feelings regarding that. Now as a mother of a prodigal son, I found that writing about Newton’s rejection of God and his estranged relationship with his father took on a much more personal meaning.
Finally the book was challenging on an editorial level. The macro edits (aka content edits) were especially brutal. My editor made a lot of suggestions for changes that were spot-on, but also required a great deal of rewriting. I literally spent hours upon hours for an entire month attempting to polish the book. Even after that, I still had additional rewriting during a later edit.
While Newton and Polly was a difficult book to write, I’m happy to report that it turned out to be a powerful and moving story about God’s grace. It moved me to tears the very last time I read it for my final edit.
Now, I’m beginning to get reviews from early readers who are being moved as well. One of the ladies on my launch team said this in our Facebook Group: “Oh goodness Jody, you did it again!!! Wrote the most emotionally charged, amazingly beautiful story I’ve had the pleasure of reading!! I don’t know how I’m ever going to write a review worthy of this book. My heart is full.”
If you pre-order the book by Sept. 19, you can get a free PDF for a beautiful Amazing Grace print (shown in the picture below). For more information, visit my publisher’s website.
To celebrate the book’s release next week, I’m giving away TWO signed copies of Newton and Polly here on this blog! Enter the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win!
What (if anything!) do you know about John Newton? Are you familiar with his “amazing grace” story or is it brand new to you?
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