SALT LAKE CITY UT January 6, 2016
Carol Bradley‘s historical fiction, Light of the Candle, about young Daniel of the Old Testament, was published by WiDo Publishing™ last January (2015). WiDo offered Bradley a contract for her second novel, Fire of the Word, in June of the same year, and for the sequel to Light of the Candle, tentatively titled “Waiting for Light”, in December. This makes 3 novels in 2 years.
Bradley wrote all three novels over time, beginning with her first draft of Light in 2008. About editing her first book, she says, “It was interesting to review my work after a significant amount of time had passed, and read the story as if it were written by someone else. Flaws and holes glared out at me. I learned the ache and joy of revising, in order to shape and reshape the manuscript into what it should be.”
“Carol writes with the ability to both tell the story and make the people come alive,” states WiDo submissions editor Allie Maldonado. “In reading both Light and its sequel, I was there witnessing events unfold. Although familiar with the Biblical story of Daniel in Babylonian captivity, reading it helped me understand him as a person as well as a prophet.”
Even after years of writing and editing her story of Daniel, Bradley wasn’t sure what her motivations were, what she was really trying to explore. “It was only after I held the published version that I discovered why I had written that story. It was my exploration of the daily experience of walking blind through life, the uncertainty of not knowing if we are headed in the right direction, or where the path we are on will lead. How to choose hope, over and over again. It took years of returning to the story to learn the why of it.”
The author knew she wanted to write the rest of the story of Daniel and Sarai. She began writing the sequel soon after WiDo announced the publication in March, 2014. Bradley outlined the novel and wrote about 20,000 words then put it away, returning to it after the first book was released in January, 2015.
“I completed the first draft of the sequel last summer, had a friend read it, revised and submitted it to WiDo in early fall,” states Bradley. “I’m looking forward now to look at it with fresh eyes once again as I work with the editor to shape it for publication.”
Meanwhile, Bradley has decided her next project will be a prequel to Light of the Candle, written in first person from the viewpoint of Huldah the Prophetess. “I have written several other things over the years, some not completed, either because I became interested in other projects, or decided I didn’t want to finish the story. I tried a couple of historical fantasies, and finished one of them, Haven, set in medieval England, about a girl who died too soon. Perhaps I’ll revisit it again, I don’t know yet. All of these unfinished projects were not wasted. They honed my writing. They taught me that no words written are ever wasted.”
Asked how publishing her first book with WiDo changed her, Bradley says, “Before I was published I felt like I had to apologize almost for saying I’m a writer when I had nothing in print. It was as though I had to prove it first and then I’d be legitimate, either to others or especially to myself. But that isn’t true. A person who writes is a writer, published or not. The creative urge to put words to paper makes one a writer. Period.”
Bradley’s experiences with writing and publishing have also taught her that a good writer is a good story teller. “I’ve come to think of myself as a storyteller. The trends about writing used to be that the words and how they were placed on the page was more important than the story. It isn’t true, I decided. Story is the bottom line. It is where the power of the words lie.”
Being a published author does not decrease a writer’s feelings of vulnerability. In fact, it will often increase them. According to Bradley, “Now I know what I write is going to be read. It’s got to be good, it’s got to be my best work because it’s not going back into a drawer, to be brought out again later for me to revise. There’s something scary about knowing the words will be printed and can’t be erased. No book is really done, with every word perfect. It can always be said in another way, with a different rearrangement of words. It’s deciding when it’s done that is agonizing, when I can leave it alone and it’s good enough. It takes courage.”
It takes courage also because writing is solitary. “I write alone, and most of the time I do not see the individuals who turn the pages of my book. I do not know if it touched them, or made them think, or feel. And that must be okay. I share in silence,” Bradley reflects. “I’ve learned my best writing is done out of love: for my characters, for myself, for my readers, for life, the things that I see that make me laugh and cry and feel.”
Maldonado says, “I really connect with Carol’s writing. Daniel’s story has especially touched me and made me think about how I deal with my own life challenges. Amazon reviewers have mentioned similar things about Light of the Candle. How they couldn’t put it down, how they appreciated the research and attention to detail. A recent one states ‘I want to go read the stories of Daniel in the Bible now. Can’t wait to read the next one!’ Fortunately, they won’t have to wait too long!”
Carol Pratt Bradley is a historical novelist with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Her interests currently include the Ancient Near Eastern world, Reformation England, and 17th century America. She has been married to her wonderful husband Bryan for over three decades. Their three daughters and one son have grown and left their parents to survive on their own. They have a Yorkie named Ozzie, who sleeps beside Carol on the couch while she writes.