The Devil Walks in Mattingly

The Devil Walks in Mattingly March 11, 2014



Publication day can be one of the loneliest of all days, says Dani Shapiro.

Writers lock themselves for days, years on end, piece-stitching a story together letter by letter, word by word, punctuation mark by punctuation mark. And that’s just the first draft of a story. Most stories undergo umpteen reincarnations before they ever see daylight in the hands of a reader.

And that isn’t even the bulk of the work anymore.

I met a young man in Newberg over the weekend, a journalist who has written a telling story about a troubling happening that took place on the campus of George Fox University, the very setting of the Faith & Culture conference I was attending.

He related to me how long he spent writing the book, versus how long he spent looking for a publisher for the book.

Guess which took more time?

Yes. Some of my best work took more time finding a publisher than it did to write the original draft. I spent years looking for someone willing to publish A Silence of Mockingbirds, the murder story of Karly Sheehan.

Of course, writers have more options now than ever before. You can’t find a publisher? No worries. You can always move the story online. That has given authors greater autonomy than ever before. I’m a fan of autonomy myself. I prefer not being held hostage to the whims of others.

So, you understand why publication day might be a big deal to authors. It’s like finding the first tomato on the vine. There will be sweeter tomatoes to come, but that first bite of summer is the one you anticipated most.

Today is that day for my friend Billy Coffey.

His new book – The Devil Walks in Mattingly – is out.

This isn’t Billy’s first book, but it is his best one yet.

I am a fan of Billy Coffey as a person and as a writer. If you aren’t following his blog at you are missing some good pickings from the writer’s vine.

But you don’t have to take my word for it – here’s what Publisher’s Weekly says:

This inspirational novel of sin and redemption is set in Mattingly, Va., a back-country village where the supernatural is as real as any reality. Throughout their marriage, sheriff Jake Barnett and his wife Kate have kept secret their shared involvement in the death of Philip McBride 20 years ago. But when Taylor Hathcock stumbles into town with knowledge of that event, the past unravels. The entire town becomes involved. Supernatural events pull the haunted players into a place where all must sacrifice their worst secrets to pave the way for salvation. Coffey has a profound sense of Southern spirituality. His narrative moves the reader from Jake and Kate’s false heaven to a terrible hell, then back again to a glorious grace.

The reason publication days can be so lonely for writers is that readers don’t yet know the gift of the story crafted within the pages of the book.

So while publication day is a big deal for authors, the best day is yet to come.

It is that day when readers read it.

That day when a reader feels compelled to call all their friends and tell them they have to read Billy Coffey’s The Devil Walks in Mattingly.

Word of mouth recommendations are what makes writers like Billy and me keep writing.  That hope that something we have written will resonate truth in the life of another.

Congratulations, Billy.

Now all y’all go get a copy of Billy’s latest.

You can thank me later.



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