Minneapolis, MN -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/20/2014 -- Raped by a trusted friend, cast out by a community and whispered about by friends and family.
It’s a story that all too many women can identify with.
It’s an agonizing experience that forms the beating heart of Seraphina Nova’s powerful and ultimately hopeful first novel, ‘The Salt of the Earth’.
“Writing my book felt redemptive in a sense, because I was able to liberate my main character, Kassandra, from the constraints of her life and her past experiences,” says Nova. “Even after her sexual assault and resulting scandal – even after falling into depression and drugs, Kass still tries to return to her family and her town - the same people who disowned her. And frankly, who wouldn’t? Our instinct is to try to go home again – it’s just human nature.”
As Nova points out though, she had a different ending in mind for her heroine. “Let’s just say that Kass still has a few surprises left in store.”
Growing up, Kassandra Hayes dreamed of becoming a missionary and saving AIDS babies and lost souls, but she knew her life was headed in a different direction after rumors about her turned into a full-fledged sex scandal in her small Midwestern town.
The Salt of the Earth is about a young woman, Kass, who has been indoctrinated into the Evangelical church since birth, and wants to be the good Christian she was bred to be until she is sexually assaulted, by her high school crush, at Bible camp. When the rumors about her promiscuity begin and the ostracization becomes too much to bear, Kass isolates herself, with infomercials and crushed up Ritalin pills, and quickly descends into a depression which launches her mother into a panic. When things at home become worse than things at school, and she isn’t welcome at either, Kass finally runs away to Chicago, which she finds is more unforgiving than her mother and the town combined.
Broke and desperate, Kass becomes a slave to drugs and exotic dancing for survival, and even turns some tricks on the side, but still holds out hope that someday she will go and save the world. One Christmas Eve, she runs into a childhood friend from her hometown who rescues her from a heroin overdose, like her real life knight in shining armor (as he likes to put it.) A sign from God? She thinks so; at least she owes her life to him now, so she finds herself back home, sober, and married, in a matter of weeks.
Back home in small town Midwest, she is brought back to the fold. Her congregation embraces their prodigal daughter, and she acts and dresses the part until she runs into Nina (whose photo she’s carried with her all these years, simply because they posed together at a picnic once, and it fell out of Kass’s things when she unpacked in the city, her only reminder of home.) Nina didn’t know how many hard times the image of her face had helped Kass through, but now their newfound inseparability would start the town chattering again, and Kass would go on another journey of self-discovery, this time finding love in the most unexpected place, and shocking the town and herself.
Although the book is fictional, Nova’s own experiences contributed a depth of detail and passion rarely felt in women’s literature.
“I think every author puts pieces of themselves into their work,” says Nova. “Any woman who has been oppressed wants to make sense of that experience and that pain. Writing, for me, is a way to reach out to others who have felt the same way. I wrote ‘The Salt of the Earth’ for women, for the LGBT community, for feminists and for anyone who has struggled with their body, their desires or their upbringing.”
“Kass’ journey though, is truly universal,” Nova adds. “We all have dreams for ourselves when we grow up and believe that we know what our future will bring. And I think the reality can truly shock us – which is what happens when Kass meets Nina again and realizes that she didn’t really know her own heart at all.”
‘The Salt of the Earth’ will be released soon.
About the Author
The author lives in MN.