The Sanctum by Pamela King Cable is one of the best books I have read in years. A coming of age tale set deep in the Carolinas in the era of the Ku Klux Klan and rampant racism, this story of a young girl, caught in a web of abuse and lies will capture your heart. Neely McPherson’s friendship with an elderly black man is a heartrending story you won’t be able to put down. Please leave your comments, and sign in on the Rafflecopter at the end of the page for more chances to win a signed copy of this truly remarkable book.
Welcome, Pam! Please tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing. Please give us a brief introduction to your previous books.
I was born in the South, a coal miner’s granddaughter, but my father escaped the mines, went to college and moved his family to Ohio to work for the rubber companies in 1959. I spent every weekend as a little girl traveling back to the Appalachian Mountains. My memories of my childhood run as strong as a steel-belted radial tire and as deep as an Appalachian swimming hole. As a little girl, I was a transplanted hick in a Yankee schoolroom. I grew up in the North. So my influence comes naturally from both regions. But the dusty roads in the coal towns of the 60s are where my career as a writer was born.
I write about religion and spirituality with paranormal twists unearthed from my family’s history. I write about my passions, what moves me, what shoots out of me like a rocket. My key inspirational force is my spirituality.
The Sanctum is my third book. The following describes my first two books:
“With a clear Southern voice and a remarkable gift of storytelling, Pamela King Cable has crafted a masterful collection of short stories. In themes ranging from flea markets to coal mine strikes, Southern Fried Women speaks of the wounds, joys, and sacrifices experienced by women who held strong in the winds of adversity and emerged bruised but miraculously unbroken. Each story is as thought provoking as it is beautifully written.” Beth Hoffman, NYTimes Bestselling Author, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
“Cable’s unflinching fictional exposé of the dark side of televangelism has a human victim in the person of Andie Oliver. … Cable, a former member of a megachurch, places Andie’s desperate struggle against the oppression of (Reverend) Artury’s church, its brutal inner circle, murderous practices, financial fraud, and (husband) Joe’s abuse. This powerful story, skillfully written and with well-drawn characters, reveals the classic entrapment of vulnerable people in the name of a vengeful god …” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Televenge is … an emotional rollercoaster that ends as intensely as it begins . . . those who commit to Cable’s tome will find themselves captivated and deeply devoted to Andie. Fans of Fannie Flagg and Janet Evanovich will be hooked on this saga of religion, romance, and crime.” LIBRARY JOURNAL, Library Journal Editor’s Pick BookExpo America 2012
Who was the first author who inspired you to write?
It wasn’t just one, it was several. On my thirteenth birthday, I received a copy of Gone with the Wind. I devoured it in a weekend. Margaret Mitchell became my hero until I discovered Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, and Eudora Welty. The rich story content of the south fans the flames of many writers’ fires. But for me, their work was a springboard, catapulting me into the possibility of creating my own unique stories driven by compelling and unforgettable characters.
Keeping down my word count. Televenge was published at over 600 pages. But to me, and fortunately to my publisher, every word mattered. The Sanctum weighs in at just over 300 pages. Still, I had to cut a lot. But I file away all those cuts to be used in another story. I don’t “kill my babies” as they say in the business. I hide them away to be used in another story.
Do you plot out your story before writing or do you just sit down and write?
I work from an outline, but that outline never holds me in check. It takes many turns throughout the process. I do know the ending before I begin. And yet I am moved by history and writing from the gut, if that makes any sense. I don’t know how much I’ve evolved as a plotter, but I do believe the longer we work at our craft, the more it morphs into who we are as writers. I write what I want to read, not what is necessarily popular at the moment. That inspires me to not only just sit down and write but to have the basic story in my head before I begin. Only then can I make my antagonist worse, and stomp on the foot of my protagonist.
Where do you find inspiration?
For me, it is within sanctuaries of brick and mortar; places of clapboard and canvas that characters hang ripe for picking. From the primitive church services of the mountain clans to the baptisms and sacraments in cathedrals and synagogues all over the world. From the hardworking men and women who testify in every run-down house of God in America to the charismatic high-dollar high-tech evangelicals televised in today’s megachurches, therein lie stories of unspeakable conflict, the forbidden, and often, the unexplained.
As a multi-published author, what do you find the easiest and the hardest about reaching your audience?
It was different for each book. For my first book my husband and I literally wore out two cars, traveling from New York to Florida and every state in between. For three years, I spoke at over 250 venues, selling my book at the back of the room. Southern Fried Women is still selling well after ten years as a result of that effort.
After Televenge was released, I appeared at the International Book Expo in New York, Fox News Radio New York City, and CBS TV in Atlanta. I spoke at Book Clubs, Womens’ Groups, and churches across the country. Televenge received attention from media outlets worldwide.
For this newest release, The Sanctum, my efforts have been heavy on social media, so far.
*Most writers cannot afford high-priced publicists. My experience is they have no real desire to promote the mid-list author. My publisher for Televenge paid thousands of dollars to a big-name publicity firm that to this day, I wonder if they even read my book. Be wary of big firms that guarantee you the moon and deliver empty promises in return.
What deep underlying truth do you want your reader to know?
That above all else, God is faithful.
What is one thing you recommend to writers who are starting out?
Newbies in this business—get your heads out of the clouds and see the writing world for what it truly is. If after you’ve done that, and you still want to write and publish, then do it with your eyes wide open. Writing is a tough, tough business. It’s grueling, actually. It takes no less than ten years of writing, rewriting, and learning your craft before you are actually ready to publish. But writing is the easy part. The length of time it takes from finishing the novel to publication is painfully long. Social media, marketing, building a platform, getting your book into the laps of your readers, that’s the hard part.
Now, with all that said … there is no greater sense of accomplishment than leaving a legacy of a hard-earned published book. Nothing greater than that …
Often we desire to teach a lesson in and through our writing, but we as writers also learn something. What was one thing you learned while writing The Sanctum?
That every book I write mirrors my life in some fashion. Spiritual life-changing moments in my life have consistently fed my desire to write. However, those moments came at a price. Compassion and love from my Heavenly Father saved me from the bottom of my barrel, from the depths of despair. In the midst of the darkest valley of my life, He raised me up and placed in me a desire to pierce the hearts of my readers with the written word straight from my sanctified imagination. He delivered me, saving my life more than once. It wasn’t just the hand of God that moved; it was His whole arm. There is nothing like experiencing the miracle hand of the Master first hand. No A-ha! moment can compare. The undiluted and undisputed faithfulness of God molded me as a woman of faith, and as a writer. From these lessons I find the stories I was meant to write.
How do you see the importance of Christian fiction?
The importance in Christian fiction is to get your message out and stay true to who you are as a writer. Otherwise, it reads like a syrupy-sweet Christian novel with over-used plots. Christian fiction must be real enough to keep us away from the secular garbage toted out by a secular publishing world. As a Christian, the challenge for me is to get people to read my work with an open mind.
Southern Fried Women and Televenge were not necessarily written for the Christian audience, but the spirit of a faithful God runs through each book. I AM a Christian, saved and filled, so writing a mainstream book doesn’t always appeal to both Christians AND the secular at the same time. But the reviews for my first two books were off the charts, so I feel I did my best.
The Sanctum, however, was written totally from the Christian aspect. Yet, it was the hardest story for me to tell because of the horrendous acts of racism, and weaving the power of Christianity through the story to overcome the darkness. Every writer has a message. In The Sanctum, it was told through the eyes, heart, and mind of a thirteen-year-old girl. I am hoping it continues to stir the emotions of both Christians and those who are searching. That’s the true importance of Christian fiction.
Please share one of your favorite passages from The Sanctum.
“My life had to change, and yet I knew, living in North Carolina, danger arrived in winter. Southerners hole up during cold weather. Food is tasteless, and the world around us smells like our rusted tin roofs. Religious conviction freezes on our faces, but our sins are not confessed. I was a child of winter. I had learned the consequence of snow and cold. It was a dreaded time of year, knowing every cold and flu season brought me bad luck and closer to truths too terrible to bear. But the day I turned thirteen began a new chapter that taught me bad luck could turn into good luck, even though it might take time. Even though the evidence of good luck is often invisible as a bubble at first. Even though the evidence of things unseen can make you think you’ve lost your mind.” ~ Neeley McPherson, The Sanctum.
A quick description of The Sanctum, please.
On a November day in 1951, Neeley McPherson turned five years old and accidentally killed her parents. Thrown into the care of her scheming and alcoholic grandfather, she survives by her quick wit, and the watchful eye of an elderly black man, Gideon. In 1959, as equal rights heats up the South, authorities accuse Gideon of stealing a watch and using a Whites Only restroom. Neeley, now thirteen, determines to break him out of jail.
The infamous Catfish Cole, Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon of the Carolinas, pursues Neeley and Gideon in their courageous escape to the frozen Blue Ridge Mountains. After Gideon’s truck hits ice and careens down a steep slope, they travel on foot through a blizzard, and arrive at a farm of sorts—a wolf sanctuary, where Neeley crosses the bridge between the real and the supernatural. On this cascading landscape she discovers her grandfather’s deception, confronts the Klan, finds her faith in God, and uncovers the shocking secrets of the family who befriends her.
Set in a volatile time in America when the winds of change begin to blow, The Sanctum bestows sanctuary, invokes the healing power of second chances, and leads Neeley to tragedy once again but in doing so, grants the desire of her heart.
“Pamela King Cable has created an unforgettable heroine in Neeley McPherson …Thoroughly enjoyable book!” Cassandra King Conroy, Bestselling author of Moonrise, Same Sweet Girls, and The Sunday Wife
“This coming-of-age tale, The Sanctum, brings readers deep into the underbelly of the Carolinas, introducing us to a spunky young woman named Neeley who captures our hearts and breaks them at the same time. When life takes a few bad turns, she hits the road with a friend she is determined to protect from the dangers of violent racism. Tucked in the mountains, Neeley comes head to head with robed Klansmen while learning the secrets of her family’s past. With a circle of compassionate strangers, a first love on the brew, and a pack of wolves in her midst, Neeley discovers the true meaning of family and faith. In this gothic but inspirational tale, Pamela Cable thrills readers with her tight plotline, lyrical scene descriptions, and complex character development. She also leaves us aching for more.” Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling author of the Christy Award winning novel of year, Into the Free.
Born a coal miner’s granddaughter and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers, Pamela King Cable proudly resides in southern Alabama.
She is a multi-published author whose novel, Televenge, attracted national attention from Fox News, CBS Atlanta, as well as book bloggers and media outlets worldwide. Writing stories steeped in Bible-belt mystery and paranormal suspense, Pamela has gained a reputation for piercing the hearts of her readers. She has taught at writing conferences, and speaks to book clubs, women’s groups, national and local civic organizations, and at churches across the country.
Connect with Pam:
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/pamelakingcable / @pamelakingcable
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