Tuesday, September 4, 2018

sofi snow {on heart and compassion and realm maker's}

She opened Realm Maker's keynote session in chic, classic black. She gave the final Saturday keynote in a My Little Pony shirt and ripped blue jeans. Her signing line lasted for hours. I joined it at the tail end and met some fantastic Realmies. We saved spots for each other while others left for snacks and brief breaks. And all the time, Mary Weber met the next fan holding her book with a smile, a listening ear, so willing to listen and talk to each one that they lingered in the glow of it.

I couldn't blame them a bit.

It's impossible not to love Mary Weber, best-selling author of the Storm Siren series and the newest Sofi Snow science fiction duology. I hope this doesn't sound too creepy, but I loved her eyes. There is kindness in them--a large compassion for the human race. She will always be loved because people are starving for compassion, and she has an enormous store to give.

Mary Weber was the main keynote speaker for the writer's conference I attended in July. Realm Maker's is the big Christian conference for speculative fiction writers--fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal loving souls who gather together once a year to get concentrated encouragement in their genres.

Her thoughtful voice mulled over the theme of dark fairy tales--that sometimes stories have to go to dark places to preach hope. People are in dark places. Life takes us to dark places. "Why would our stories," she said, "be any less raw? or violent?....[Stories are] anthems that speak to the dark nights in someone else's life and say 'you are not alone.' " I can't wait to read the session notes again during my next project. I love the way she mulls over the hurts of the human experience and the love of Jesus in a way that empathizes with the reality of pain.

Before she gave her first keynote, I loved her anyway, because her bio was written in such a caring way to her fans. It was that that sold me on buying one of her books, and she herself that sold me on it the rest of the way. So I picked up The Evaporation of Sofi Snow and cracked it open that night in the hotel room.

Sofi Snow lives in future America, a mix of reality and technology--and aliens. When her mom sends Sofi and her twelve-year-old brother Shilo into the Fan Fight games, Sofi uses a tough heart and even tougher gaming skills to help Shilo survive. But when the Fan Fight games suffer a bomb attack and Shilo is kidnapped, Sofi's deep compassion sends her into space to find him--even when it means facing deep, dark horror in the attempt.

Sofi offers a voice of struggle and love to girls across America. While girls in conservative Christian circles may struggle with instances of slang, brief language, and references to past sleeping around, Sofi stands as a beacon to a different kind of girl. She offers a hand of love across the Christian publishing divide into the secular market to say to girls there that "you are not alone." Sofi's beautiful kaleidoscope of friends, ranging from colorful-haired Miguel to the gamers at Mom's Basement, pays grateful acknowledgment to the fact that sometimes the lost show love better than the found--but that the found, too, can learn to love with compassion. Throughout the duology (the second book is called Reclaiming Shilo Snow, and took me two days flat to read) it touches in a gentle way on parent/child forgiveness. On healing from trauma. On a falling in love story that was a Minky Blanket to the fuzzy side of my soul. And on a burning sense of compassion and justice for the enslaved and the oppressed. Mary Weber's heart beats all the way through it. When you've seen her speak, and then read her books, her fingerprints of love for the hurting press their mark all over its pages.

 If you're looking for an escape from the first school assignments, or a thoughtful way to consider compassion, these books are for you. Best read under twinkle lights with the accompaniment of a fuzzy pillow.

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