If it weren't for that event, I would never ever written ALL KINDS OF HELL.
While my mother took my brother and me to a mainline church and Sunday School with fits of regularity when we were kids, it was not something we embraced as part of our family culture. It wasn't until my best friend "led me to Jesus" in 8th grade, and I was "born again," that faith really meant much to me.
Throughout high school, and beyond--when I married a Christian missionary and we began a family--faith played a huge role in my daily life.
And I think the role and importance of faith in the life of many young adults is something that isn't addressed in any meaningful way in most of today's YA literature.
There was no religious diversity in terms of world religions my hometown--13 streets, 13 churches is how I describe it--but those of us teens who were religious, particularly if we had taken charge of our own faith journey, were fervent and found a pretty good community in one another. Bible study, religious discussions, doctrinal arguments, See You at the Pole, evangelizing, and intercessory prayer.
Years later, however, my family moved to the Bible Belt of the U.S. and I found my perceptions about faith and religion changed in ways I hadn't anticipated.
It was during this time, living in the "most religious state in the US" that I wrote ALL KINDS OF HELL. It was a sort of catharsis, dealing with my struggles with my own faith, grieving over strained (and lost) friendships, and trying to see my whole conversion and religious life from a different perspective (not to mention reassessing by what means I should identify "truth").
I wrote ALL KINDS OF HELL to explore the very powerful--and painful--dynamics that can arise between two people when one is convinced that the other is headed to eternal pain and suffering and will do anything to prevent it.
The story centers around:
Becca: Who believes Joely, her much loved little sister, could live a happier life with Jesus, not to mention escape an eternity of grief and torture, if she would just believe.
Joely: Who watches with stunned horror as the older sister she idolizes make incomprehensible, painful decisions for a belief system Joely can't begin to accept.
ALL KINDS OF HELL is a story about the power and importance, and sometimes the pain, of a fervent religious faith, and how it can play out in our most important relationships.