I invited Lucy Mills to tell us about her new book, Undivided Heart—out now from DLT Books—and she very kindly agreed. In fact, she went further: this is the first post in a blog tour to launch the book; so if you like what you read, be sure to follow the tour! Now, without further ado, it’s over to Lucy:
One of the first things I am asked as an author is ‘what do you write?’ If the subject of a particular book comes up, then ‘what is it about?’ And, hot on the heels of that, ‘what inspired you to write it?’
One would think this gives me lots of practice at answering such questions, but the reality is I find it hard to come up with a ‘pat’ answer. I need to, of course, as that’s the industry – first I need to persuade a publisher that the book is something worthwhile, and being able to say what it’s about is rather important! And then, once it’s out and about, to promote it, again with a snappy and clear summary.
The trouble is, when I write, I go deep. I’ve always had a tendency to it – to go exploring into an idea, tunnelling through the ground of possibility, discovering connections that excite and inspire me, even challenge me – let alone my readers – in my life of faith.
My latest book, Undivided Heart: Finding Meaning and Motivation in Christ, touches on that question – ‘what inspired you to write it?’ – because it is about what inspires us, what motivates us to do anything. Why do I do what I do? What makes me who I am?
‘What inspired me to write it?’ I could reply, ‘Yes, that’ – which would confuse you but seem perfectly sensible to me. Exactly. Isn’t that the question – what inspires me to do anything?
My target readership? Essentially, people who like asking deep questions. Those who also like tunnelling into truth, those who get excited by life and befuddled by existence. (Not exactly the name of a shelf genre, my apologies.)
Of course, giving the book a label makes me laugh as well – in its second part, I express caution over the tendency to categorise life. Of course, categories are useful. But they can become more like straitjackets than aids to understanding. The old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ could be amended to ‘don’t judge a book by its category’! Tricky for booksellers, of course, so I would try to help by saying that ‘Christian spirituality’ probably is the best slot – somewhere on the shelf between ‘devotional’ and ‘popular theology’.
Some people can think and imply that because I’m a woman and have a heart shape on the book cover that my content is a bit lightweight. I would hope not. There is more than one assumption there; I want to challenge both. Would I call myself a theologian? No, I’m not sure that I warrant such a description, although I do love theology. But there are many women that do deserve to be called such, investing much more of their time into theological study than I do.
Undivided Heart is about what shapes us, drives us and divides us. It wonders what effect this has on us. It asks what makes us who we are and where we find our true identity (the subtitle is a bit of a spoiler, I admit). It challenges labels, questions categories, ponders the nature of reward, reflects on future hope as well as past and present experience. It plunges into the nature of love and comes up gasping, walks right into the challenges posed by suffering, reflects on the power of encounter with God and what God has done for us. It touches on wisdom, awe, foolishness, fear, doubt and inconsistent living. It’s about motivation, but it’s not a ‘motivational’ book in the way that many are. There are no ‘seven steps to become a better Christian’ here; it’s not that kind of book.
It’s… it’s… about the heart of things.
It is, as with my previous book, a part of my own spiritual journey, expressed in words.
Now I release it, for it to become part of someone else’s journey. If it means that much to only one other person, it was worth it.
Lucy Mills writes feature articles, prayers, worship resources and poetry. Her published works are mainly non-fiction, but that’s not to say she doesn’t dabble in fiction-writing on occasion. Undivided Heart is her second book. Its predecessor, Forgetful Heart, also published by DLT Books, reflected on what it means to remember God in our all-too-distracted world. She lives in South West England with husband Andy (a Baptist minister and fellow theology lover) and their two guinea pigs, Frodo and Chewbacca.
Both of Lucy’s books are available to order—if they’re not already in stock!—from your nearest Christian bookshop: (re)discover yours here!
… and last but not least, don’t miss Lucy on Facebook Live this evening, 7.00pm!