After the successful publication and substantial sales of his book, A12 to Heaven (June 2008), Phil Stoddart has now set up his own publishing company, Last Word Publications. Following an exchange of emails, I invited Phil to tell us his story:
Looking back, it still seems inconceivable that anything positive could come out of such tragedy. My wife and I were woken in the middle of the night in June 2006 by a phone call that ushered in a nightmare. I will never forget driving to the hospital and stopping on the way at the place where my two teenage daughters lost their lives. Three other people were also dead and a young man with far too much alcohol in his system was responsible for it all.
I didn’t understand at the time why God should speak to me so intently about the days ahead. It started in the hospital when my body was wracked with nausea and anguish. “There are three things you have to do if you want to get through this”, he said, “not to blame me, nor the driver and certainly not yourself.”
I didn’t even try to digest these things. I was so desperate for his comfort that I could only reply “Yes Lord.” We both knew I meant it. The result was an unbroken fellowship with him that in the year to follow became a soothing medicine for the pain in my heart. Time after time, he revealed things about himself and the life to come that my body could barely contain. The more I saw of him the more I wept at his beauty and sheer intensity of love. More tears flowed from these glimpses into his glory than the loss itself.
Out of these encounters I was compelled to write A12 to Heaven which came out in June 2008. My initial intention was to find a publisher but during the lead up to completion I received encouragement through prayer from others to publish it myself. More words came, even from people with no idea what I was doing, that extended the boundaries beyond the production of just one book and into the setting up of Last Word Publications.
It wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the timely arrival in our church of a professional graphic designer from London. With a few others we have developed a vision to publish affordable, high quality materials new and existing authors that penetrate both Christian and secular outlets.
Thanks to national coverage of what happened on that horrible night and also our links into New Frontiers, we have now sold over 3000 copies of my book. In May 2009 we published Life Issues by Wendy Virgo. Wendy is the wife of Terry who pretty much began the New Frontiers church movement and her book is a series of practical discussions for women on building healthy marriages, homes and families.
In February of this year a third book was produced called He Loves Me Not? The author Joanne Robinson is a Christian counsellor and member of a Baptist church in Norfolk. It’s another title aimed at women but what makes it different to Wendy’s book is the focus on broken relationships. Jo has a wealth of experience in this area and uses biblical principles to show how God can heal the bruises and how to avoid getting them in the first place!
As for the future, we are currently working with another four authors, all of whom are leaders at the forefront of planting and building healthy churches. However, a major obstacle to our development is simply getting our books stocked in enough outlets for people to buy. This is where we need lots of support and goodwill to whoever is out there!!! To get more of a feel for us, please visit our website at www.lastwordpublications.com