Title: Intended For Harm
Author: C.S. Lakin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 477 pages
About the Book:
1971: Jake Abrams is desperate to leave his oppressive home in Colorado and begina new life in college in LA, but his dreams are waylaid when he meets Leah, an antiwar protester who pushes him into marriage and family. Through four decades Jake struggles to raise a family, facing tragedy and heartbreak, searching for meaning and faith and challenging a silent God as he wanders through his life.
“Intended for Harm” is a contemporary family saga set between 1971 to present day loosely derived from the biblical story of Jacob and his family. The title comes from Gen 50:20: “What you intended for harm, God intended for good—for the saving of life…”
“Intended for Harm” explores the depth of a heart that doubts, and how it finds its way home to a God who has never been absent. It delves into the theme of harm—how those suffering loss and unmet needs intend harm toward others, but can find redemption through grace and humility.
Written in a contemporary flash-fiction style, “Intended for Harm” covers forty years, each chapter a year, with a theme from a hit song for that year. Each scene is a fifteen-minute snapshot of the Abrams family, a “photo album” of Jake’s life of wandering “through the wilderness” and coming home to faith at the end of his life. Anyone familiar with the Bible will recognize many similarities to the famous story of Jacob and his son Joseph. At the heart of this story is an exploration of fathers and sons, of loyalty and betrayal. And mostly, how we often intend harm to others because of wounds we carry in our souls, often without our knowing.
I enjoyed The Wolf of Tebron (Book1) in The Gates of Heaven Series when I read it a year or so back, but Christian allegory is not my favorite genre (except for The Chronicles of Narnia, of course). So I was tickled to learn that in addition to the “Gates of Heaven” series, C.S. Lakin also writes contemporary fiction – my favorite!!
I was tickled when I realized that Intended for Harm loosely parallels the life of Jacob and his son Joseph, from the Bible. All the major characters: Esau, Isaac, Rebeccah, Rachel, Leah, and 6 of Jacob’s 13 children are all represented in this modern story. I have to say that when I read the story of Joseph as a child, he was the character I most identified with. I couldn’t understand why his brothers hated him so much. Reading the story in a fresh light, as an adult, I can identify much more closely with the older brothers. I mean how annoying would it be if your brother turned to you and told you about a dream in which you bowed down to him? You’d probably want to slug him.
I love the story told for the modern day. I especially enjoyed the songs at the beginning of each chapter – many brought me back to my childhood. And the story of redemption and reunion is as touching and heartwarming as it is at times painful and heartwrenching. I highly recommend this book!!
About the Author:
C. S. Lakin writes novels in numerous genres, focusing mostly on contemporary psychological mysteries and allegorical fantasy. Her contemporary fiction novel Someone to Blame won the 2009 Zondervan First Novel competition 2009. Lakin’s Gates of Heaven fantasy series for adults features original full-length fairy tales in traditional style. Already in print are the first books in the series, The Wolf of Tebron and The Map across Time, with five more to follow. In addition to her mysteries and fantasy series, she has also written the first book in a Young Adult sci-fi adventure series: Time Sniffers. Her contemporary mystery Innocent Little Crimes made the top one hundred finalists in the 2009 Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest, earning her a Publisher’s Weekly review which stated her book was “a page-turning thrill-ride that will have readers holding their breaths the whole way through.”
Lakin currently works as a freelance copyeditor and writing mentor, specializing in helping authors prepare their books for publication. She is a member of The Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), CEN (Christian Editor Network), CAN (Christian Authors Network—regular blogger), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association), and two regional writers’ groups. She edits for individuals, small publishing companies, and literary agents, and teaches workshops and does critiques at writers’ conferences, and occasionally guest blogs on writing sites.
She is developing a swashbuckling dog memoir in the style of Moby Dick entitled A Dog after God’s Own Heart. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA, with her husband Lee, a gigantic lab named Coaltrane, and three persnickety cats.
An Interview with C.S. Lakin:
TM: Do all of your books contain biblical and/or Christian elements? What draws you to those themes?
CSL: I want all my writing to glorify God and help people know He is there and cares for him, so what I write is motivated from that. Not all my books have spiritual or faith themes as I also like to explore the human condition, but ultimately they show we are flawed and need help.
TM: How did you choose the songs you use at the beginning of each chapter of Intended for Harm?
CSL: Each chapter in this book takes place in a particular year, so there are forty years and forty chapters, primarily. I chose a hit song for that year that fit in with the events going on in the life of the Abrams family.
TM: Did you encounter any obstacles in writing this book and if so how did you overcome them?
CSL: This book was a joy to write and although challenging to create 15-minute scenes that would be deep enough to convey the passage of forty years, I didn’t feel daunted but challenged and excited to put this book together. Although it’s quite a long book, it seemed to write itself and took about four months. I didn’t rewrite anything when I was done and felt led the whole time as the story unfolded.
TM: How do you balance your career as an editor with your writing?
CSL: Well, since I have bills to pay, my editing comes first. But when I have some slow days, I write. Somehow I get my novels written, and I have two I need to write in the next year for my publisher, but on a good writing day, I get about 5,000 words done, and so for a 100,000-word book, that comes out to 20 writing days to write a complete novel. If I need to, I’ll take a month and just write to finish a novel.
TM: What writers inspire you?
CSL: I love a lot of different writers’ books. For fantasy, Patricia McKillip—she’s the best. For mystery, Elizabeth George. I am now reading Charles Martin’s books and loving his depth and style.
You can visit Suzanne online at http://www.cslakin.com
I did not receive any compensation or review copies in exchange for this interview. All opinions are my own.