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Fan Letter Posted on the Burnt Swamp Blog 12/10/08:
The following fan letter is awesome. Thanks so much, Bethany! I'll answer your questions at the end of this post.
"Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons shall separate you from the loe of God." I appreciated this passage from the book because the words conveyed the message of how God protects everyody. You showed this in your book, Gavin Goodfellow which opened doors to an exciting world for me. I heard about Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp when you visited my class and discussed it. The Lure of Burnt Swamp caught my attention and kept me intrigued. While reading the book, the expression on my face showed shock and anticipation. My jaw dropped, and my eyes widened. Have you endured a spiritual experience like Gavin's before? The vivid details allowed me to experience the same feelings the character went through. I tasted the book that Gavin's uncle asked him to eat in his vision. When Gavin got caught in the Lodge, so did I.
I have many words to describe this book: interesting, down to earth, and suspenseful. I felt connected with both the characters and the setting. Gavin found adventures in Delaware; I live in Delaware. Why did you choose to set your book in the tiny state of Delaware? I related mostly to Molly. We both found ourselves pulled into trouble by our adventurous cousins, and we both strived to get good grades. I related well to Gavin, espcially when Molly and Eric wanted to trespass into the lodge. My cousins always wanted to do something adventurous. I knew doing it would be wrong, and I did't want to be a part of it; I tagged along though. One time, my cousins wanted to run around the farm, climb hay bales, and wander through the woods. I knew we shouldn't, but I went anyway. Gavin's mom seems a lot like my dad because they both act very relaxed, but can but their foot down. Gavin's dad reminds me of my mother because they both can be strict but for good reasons I do not always appreciate.
After reading The Lure of Burnt Swamp, I realized that we don't always want the fate that's forced upon us, but we must make the best of the situation. When I opened this book, the words on the pages leaped at me and I became lost in them. I appreciate spiritual fantasies because of your ability to write a touching book.
Gavin Goodfellow captivated me. The unpredictable story left me on the edge of my seat. Libraries and schools need to stock this book. I'm amazed how well written a book can be. Relating to the characters made it more enjoyable. What inspired you to write such an amazing book? I cannot wait to read the rest of the series to find out what you have in store for Gavin. If you have any tips on how to write an amazing story, I would love to hear them. Thanks for inspiring me to write.
Your devoted reader,
Have I endured a spiritual experience like Gavin's before? Yes, I wrote out of my own experience and have had a number of "mountain top encounters" with the Lord (the attic scene, in particular, although it was exaggerated as I didn’t see Jesus in tangible form). On the other hand, the New Age and witchcraft parts are total research.
Why did I choose to set the book in the tiny state of Delaware? Well, it goes back to writing from experience. Since this is my first attempt at fiction, I thought it best to work with familiar surroundings. Besides, the real Burnt Swamp is such an intriguing place—did you know that there really were fires that burned for long periods of time in Burnt Swamp? But, if you'll look closely, you'll see that, although the Eastern Shore is mentioned in the preface, I don't really identify Delaware anywhere in the book. I wanted to leave my fictional setting vague . . . but, just as I had hoped, you recognized local landmarks. That makes it special for people who love the First State as I do.
What inspired me to write Gavin? Well, in a word, God. I was reading my grandson’s copy of the first Harry Potter book and had a fleeting thought: Somebody needs to write a Christian book that’s just this much fun to read. Immediately, three words penetrated my spirit: “You do it.” You can imagine my apprehension! I began peppering the Lord with my doubts. But Lord, I don’t know how to write fiction; I don’t know how to write for kids; I don’t know how to write fantasy . . . That’s when He reminded me that I am already doing a lot of things I didn’t know how to do because I’d been obedient in the past to the call to write and publish. When I shared the overwhelming vision with my writing friends, a number of professionals came alongside to mentor me. I studied the craft of novel writing. We brainstormed plots and subplots. They edited my many drafts over and over again. And now they’re helping me as I work through the process all over again in writing books two and three in the series.
As far as tips on how to create an amazing story, you already have a strong gift for words. I would like to invite to you participate in our writers' group that meets once a month in Georgetown. Delmarva Christian Writers' Fellowship is free and would be a great encouragement to you. Check out our website at www.delmarvawriters.com. We have some other young people who have been coming lately who are writing fantasy, so when you’re ready to do some creative writing, you’ll fit right in. Our group can help give you a sense of direction.
Thanks again for your amazing letter, Bethany!
Candy Abbott’s Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp is a creatively written story for a generation searching for the supernatural. She has penned a fascinating journey that will captivate and entertain you from the beginning. I highly recommend Candy and her writings.
Author of Prophecy, Dreams & Evangelism: Revealing God’s Love through Divine Encounters
P.S. Doug's prophetic ministry and teachings are having a positive affect both nationally and internationally; his booklet, "No More Christianese," is a Fruitbearer publication. Visit Doug online for more information. Watch his interview on Prophetic TV.
I decided to read Gavin more from the heart of one sister in the Lord supporting another. Little did I know that I would be sucked into the story and enter the journey of all the characters associated with the Burnt Swamp!! What I thought would be a book for adolescents became an enriching, exciting and edge of my seat adventure for adults as well. As I read the conversion of Gavin and his meeting the Trinity, I could barely see the words for the tears. Candy has captured the heart of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the uncondional acceptance of Jesus Christ all throughout the book. I pray for Candy as she has stepped onto the frontlines exposing the spirit world and New Age tactics. I encourage young and old to pick up Gavin and be a part of his transformation, journey and victories!
Founder, "Meet Your Sisters at the Well"
Candy has hit a home run with this exciting first adventure for Gavin Goodfellow! I was able to read it during a recent trip--rejoicing that the daylight held out on the way home JUST long enough for me to get to the last page--and WHAT a blessing!!!!!!!! My 11 year old Anna has it now and is LOVING it, too! She was leary at first because she has her favorites and didn't want to appear eager to start something new (especially if I was raving about it! Ha!), but she has her nose stuck in it totally! WHAT AWESOME WORK! WHAT TRUTHS FOUND IN THE ADVENTURE! I can't WAIT for the next one to come out!!!!!!!!! Candy's characters are believable, her descriptions rich, her word choices interesting--WAY TO GO!!!!! She is hitting the mark, weaving her creative tale with biblically sound truths that will build character and faith in the readers. Gives Christians an alternative to the satanic Harry Potter series!
This is an extraordinary book. Well written, awesome. Harry Potter readers will find the hidden truths they have been searching for! Great for home schoolers, this will fit into curriculum. A must read book! Author Candy Abbott has gone into places only the brave will go. I can't wait for the next one!
Photographer and Writer
Gavin Goodfellow is wonderfully written. And to think I put off reading it, because I had bought it for a friend's sons. I just thought it was for teens; well was I wrong! I read it from cover to cover and loved it. I got totally immersed in the book, the story, and the characters. I am really looking forward to the next book and the continuation of the story of Burnt Swamp. To make the reading even more interesting, go to the Gavin Goodfellow website and you can see pictures and backgrounds on all of the characters--that was really slick! It's a wonderful feeling to have a really intersting book to read and to give as a gift and know that there are solid Christian beliefs beautifully included.
Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp is a refreshing contemporary mix of reality, fantasy, and spirituality. Read it TO your kids, WITH your kids, and FOR the kid in you.
Jonathan "Chad" Akin
I began reading "Gavin" to my class tonight at church. They love it! They are completely hooked. I wish I could remember what one young lady said because it was very insightful. Another wanted to know if the donkey was Balaam's donkey. We only read chapter one but had a lot of discussion, and we served dried apricots, Granny Smith apples, and 7-Up to go with the vision in the chapter. They all left class saying they had "eaten a book."
My new friend Candy Abbott has released what I and many others feel is one of the finest Christian ficiton books for young adults and teens to hit the market. Candy takes readers on a spritual fantasy unlike anyone has written yet. Follow Gavin and his friends as they learn the classic struggle between good and evil. Adults, don't miss Glenn's new novel, CROSSING THE LINE, a non-stop action thriller about illegal immigrants.
Pastor Mike says...
What a rousing finish! Or, perhaps more correctly, a challenging beginning for Gavin Goodfellow, the unlikely hero of The Lure of Burnt Swamp. Filled with good theology wrapped in an engaging Christian fantasy, this is the story of an ordinary boy's response to Christ's call to faithfulness amid the spiritual challenges of his life.
Gavin comes a long way in the pages of this adventure. In the very beginning, with his first vision, he places his trust in his Uncle Warney more so than in God. We all begin with a "borrowed faith." However, as the book progresses, Gavin comes face to face with the choice of whom to ultimately trust. The uncle encourages, Christ commands, but in the end Gavin must answer and claim his own faith. To do so, he must "put on" the armor of God. However, he will not be putting on the mature faith of his uncle. Instead, he will be clothing himself in the fledgling faith of a newborn. But this armor, this faith, will now be his and with God's help, Gavin will stand strong in it and it will grow.
Indeed, his faith does strengthen and deepen, but with his spiritual growth comes additional challenges. The book doesn't gloss over the difficulties associated with faithfulness in a world that seeks to suppress truth. Gavin has very real feelings of frustration with his father who doesn't "get it." Knowing the truth doesn't mean all who are close to us will understand - a reality most growing Christians must deal with at some point. And Gavin's uncle's understanding - that Gavin's spiritual journey has only begun, that spiritual wisdom is a process - is certainly strong theology.
Gavin's experience with the armor of God serves as a lesson to us all. I appreciated that in this fantasy the armor could be felt but not seen, except for the glimpse Gavin was given of the power and the reality of the belt of truth. I liked Warney's affirmation that just because the armor was spiritual and could not be seen in a physical way, didn't mean it wasn't real.
We, as Gavin discovers, are called to "put on" the armor of God. Yet the response is ours. Christ provides, Scripture encourages, and the Spirit empowers, but God leaves to us the choice of clothing ourselves in Christ. Consider Ephesians 6 where the verbs associated with God's armor are "put on," "take up," "stand and fasten," "put on," and "take." Taking up the armor is a godly choice - not simply a passive experience of Christ's action upon us. Christ demands we make a choice - a choice of who and what we are going to trust.
Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp is about making Godly choices. This is a good and an encouraging read for seekers of all ages.
Reverend Michael E. Williams
Pastor at Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Georgetown, DE
Hang on for an incredible ride with Gavin Goodfellow, his friends and enemies, and the mystery of Burnt Swamp. Candy Abbott has written The Lure of the Burnt Swamp as the first in a series of mysterious and adventurous stories for kids 11 and up. Along with the amazing adventures of Gavin, kids reading these books will learn about putting on spiritual armor to stand against evil in all its forms. A great read for kids, teachers, and parents alike.
Owner of Seaside Creative Services, Author of Read & Share Bible and Christmas Angels (Nelson), The Christmas Flower (Strang). Former Acquisitions Editor for Zonderkidz.
Just when I thought the best fantasy-mystery-adventure books had already been written for you, I found Gavin Goodfellow. NOW you have the best - because not only is the story deliciously strange and can't-put-it-down intriguing, but Gavin and the challenges he bumps into are as real as you are. And at the center of it all - you've got God, like you've never experienced God before. So follow Gavin into Burnt Swamp and be prepared for the journey of your life!
Our kids face spiritual challenges we didn't even dream of in our adolescence, and they need a myriad of resources to equip them to meet those challenges. Candy Abbott provides one in Gavin Goodfellow, through great storytelling, sound Bible-based theology, and an obvious passion for the spiritual health of her audience. As a young people's author, I can say without hesitation that she loves this audience as much as I do. I urge every adult who shares that love and passion to put Gavin into the hands of a kid you care about. (And don't pass up the chance to read it yourself!)
Award-winning author of youth and adult fiction
Gavin Goodfellow and the Lure of Burnt Swamp is a spiritual fantasy written by Candy Abbott for young adults.
Twelve-year-old Gavin wants to make a difference in his world. When his chance comes to be a hero, he lies about his cousins, Molly and Eric, entering the deserted Lodge with him. Instead of admiration for a good deed, he finds problems and punishment. Evil forces plot to take over the eerie Burnt Swamp that has been burning mysteriously for ten years. Madam Daark and her daughter Bea scheme to steal the ancient diary which contains the Swamp's secrets. Will they succeed? Who will help Gavin protect the diary? How does Gavin find the courage to tell the truth?
I was the first person to read Gavin in his entirety when he was a manuscript. After he was revised and edited I read him again. Then I proofread him two times before he went to press. I feel like I know him well. Now, he's a real book and I've enjoyed him even more.
Anyone, from the young in heart and spirit to those further along in their life's journey, will love Gavin, his family and friends. I'm way, way older than Gavin and I became engrossed with his adventures. Come join Gavin as he meets God and struggles to save Burnt Swamp.
Retired teacher, avid reader, writer, and great-grandmother
This book was soooo awesome! I can't wait for the next one. Gavin has topped all the other books I've been reading lately, and now I'm bored with the ones I have. I want more Gavin.
Sophomore at Calvary Christian Academy, Dover, DE
Bob and Lina say...
If her purpose was to counterbalance the influence on our children of the over-abundance of literature that ignores or insults our Creator by presenting a book that exalts godly values, then Candy Abbott has succeeded. The added bonus is that Gavin Goodfellow is a captivating and delightful read for our youth as well as the child in each of us.
Bob and Lina Nickle
Chadds Ford, PA
I am pleased to recommend the book Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp for use in the classroom: private, public or home. In my position as administrator of a private Christian school, it is critical when looking for new curriculum to not only find work that is interesting and engaging for the student but excellent in presentation and intentional in its ability to align with standards that meet core curriculum expectations. Gavin does all these things and more.
School Administrator, Epworth Christian School, Laurel, DE
Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp is an exciting, smoothly-written tale of spiritual warfare with wonderfully drawn, engaging characters and beautifully crafted descriptive passages. The richly detailed story contains multiple examples of Christianity and the occult. The plot moves swiftly, alternating between suspense, humor, and stark terror. While the evil is ferocious and real, there's always the sense that "God wins."
Sept. 2007 issue of the Christian Library Journal
I got this book for my kids. Since it deals with some pretty heavy issues, I wanted to review it before they got a hold of it. I couldn't put it down! I actually had a hard time focusing on my own responsibilities as I followed Gavin through his struggles.
My kids start reading it this week, and I know they will love it as well. They have longed for a series that was based on a Christian perspective, and still as fun as the Harry Potter series. We found it! Now I can get back to work.
Firefly Digital Media "Proud American" (USA)