Author, Emily Silver, talks with Christel about the self-publishing process and why she wrote 50 Shades of Christ.
Christel: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up writing the book?
Emily: I see myself much more as a visual artist than a writer, so I was really surprised how compelled I felt to pick up a pen and write. At the time I was painting a lot but just for myself really (now I work with vulnerable people using art as a way to healing. It’s only a first step but it’s an incredible way to open up to emotions and feelings).
Normally during prayer or contemplation I always felt a peace that made me want to paint – I’ve always felt it was a spiritual thing even from being quite a young child. But, about the time of all the Fifty Shades hype, I felt a shift from the usual; I just knew that I needed to answer the issues around that book’s view of love with something that looked to something higher and bigger – and obviously that’s God’s love. After all what’s bigger and more real than that?
I didn’t think simply not reading it was a Christian answer. Jesus didn’t answer issues by ignoring them – he stepped into the fray and took issues head on. I wanted to do that with that story. I truly felt the need to do it in my heart. And I just knew it needed to be in a written format not a visual one.
Christel: How have you found the self publishing journey and would you recommend it? Why and why not?
Emily: I’ve enjoyed it but all along I’ve tried to do it in quite an egoless way. The book is about God, the whole process of it has been done to explore how Christ is as extraordinary now as He was 2000 years ago. I set up a website and published it because I thought that if it even shows only one or two people that love isn’t about hate or deception but about a living real Christ then that’s worth it.
I found the self-publishing process quite easy. I used KDP because I wanted to have the opportunity of a larger audience. My single biggest tip for anyone thinking about doing likewise would be to get an up to date guide to self publishing (I used a Dummies guide) and to read it before starting typing the manuscript. I had to change quite a lot of the formatting of the original to make it KDP friendly but – once it was done – I found the process easy and satisfying. Also I had tremendous help from a friend who helped me ruthlessly edit my first draft which made it a far better book.
The frustrating side is that people read the book and then don’t review it on Amazon! I’m not bothered if those reviews are positive or negative but I really would ask people who read self published Christian books to review them and – if they’ve enjoyed them – tell other potential readers about them. More and more these kind of books have the potential to reach into secular lives and show them the beginnings of what a life with Jesus can be.
Christel: Because of the book’s title there will be clear comparisons between it and 50 Shades of Grey. Why have you chosen to draw this comparison? And have you read it?
Emily: As I say there was lots of talk about Christians not reading the original, but I didn’t understand that. Here is a book that millions of people have read and are talking about. But when those conversations start about it – in workplaces or during nights out – we, as Christians, are expected to say ‘Oh I haven’t read it. It’s ungodly.’
That’s not my interpretation of faith. When those conversations start I want my faith and my Jesus to be right in the middle of it saying: ‘You know what? I have read it, and that’s one representation of love but let me show you another. Let me show you one which takes all the stuff that the book peddles and redefines it with a bigger and more real love that you don’t have to view from the fictional sidelines, but that you can jump in and be a part of. Start with this 50 Shades of Christ book and whatever questions it sparks in you then find me and I’ll answer them.’
I wanted to provide a starting point for a dialogue. So yes I’ve read it. I read it one chapter at a time and then thought about how I could take that plotline and stick to it, but make it about a relationship with God.