"Two princes wage the battle for eternity but The Victor has been known from the start…"
The verses above from Amy Grant’s “Fairytale” song (Father’s Eyes) was the "light bulb" over my head for my first book: “The Victor” back in 1981. It was originally titled “The Victor and His Bride”, but when the book went into publication I figured no self-respecting male would ever touch a book that had a title like that so I shortened it. I began writing The Victor 30 years ago on an IBM Selectric typewriter. For those of you close to my age; you know what a pain in the neck editing/correcting documents that way were! In the early 1980s I finally got it onto computer and must have rewritten it over a hundred times, improving and honing my skills; putting in new sections and throwing out others. The very first draft was a rather silly story with a talking horse but as I got older, the story-line became more serious and I can quite honestly say that the book "grew up" with me.
I submitted it to numerous publishers in the late 80s and early 90s and after beating my head against the proverbial wall with no results; finally gave up and shelved my dream for a good 20 years and quite literally forgot all about it. Real life got in the way. Starting in my early 20s I was too busy contending with a serious illness that resulted in major surgery, followed by years of infertility, then the adoption of my daughter at age 3 and all the while working full time as an administrative assistant. Seeing as how I couldn't even pay people to read my "story" I simply gave up until 2007 when God orchestrated the events which led up to it finally being published by Tate.
When I knew that "my baby" would finally be in print after almost 30 years, I contacted an old boss of mine (John Styll) who I worked for when he was editor of Contemporary Christian Music Magazine and had since become President of the Gospel Music Association. I went to the GMA website, and sent an email through the general mail asking them to forward it to John and providing information about my employment with him so they (and he) would know I was the "real deal". To my delight and amazement, John emailed me back within the week and congratulated me. We wrote back and forth and I told him about my book, how it had been inspired by an Amy Grant song and asked if he could put me in touch with her management agency. His response was "sure!" and "feel free to use my name when you contact them", which I did.
Amy's agency said to go ahead and address my letter to them and they would forward it on. With trembling hands I wrote a letter to Amy Grant telling her about how I can to faith in Jesus as a non believing Jew at age 17, how her song "Fairytale" had given me the idea for The Victor, and sent two copies of the finished book to her. One for her to autograph and send back to me and one for her to keep.
After several weeks I got my book back with her autograph which read: "Marlayne; congratulations on finishing this great project - Amy Grant". After that I joined her "Friends of Amy" fan club in the hopes of getting to meet her face-to-face after one of her concerts at a meet and greet. She performed in Malibu about a year later and I went with high hopes and great excitement only to learn that there would be no "meet and greet" that night. I was SO BUMMED. Then six months later another opportunity arose for me to be one of several new Christian authors at the Life & Faith Concert Tour in Richmond, VA where Amy was one of the headliners. The concert promoter and I had become good friends in the months leading up to the event and she was bound and determined to give me real face time with Amy Grant since I had basically flown 3,000 miles to the East Coast specifically for that privilege.
Well, as you may have guessed, my hopes were finally realized. I just wish I had not been sweating for 10 hours straight in 90+ degree humidity before I did. I looked like a wreck and Amy looked…well, she looked gorgeous. I think she is one of the most naturally beautiful women I have ever seen. I got to spend just a couple of minutes with her before she went onstage to perform at the end of a very long, hot day. Just enough time to show her the book her song inspired, let her know about our mutual acquaintance, John Styll and the fact that we both had a daughter with the same name. Mine spelled Karina; hers spelled Corrina.
To my dismay, however, when I showed her the book that her song had inspired, she admitted that my words "jogged" her memory but it was obvious she had never read it. I left right after getting the photo you will see below. It was 7:30 by that time and all I wanted was to get into a hot shower, clean off and get some dinner before the restaurants all closed. I found out later that night from my friend that had I or any of the other authors stayed until after her concert we would have gotten the opportunity to go aboard her bus for 45 minutes and really get to talk with her and have her sign things for us but it was a last moment decision on her part and most of us had already left having been there all day.
So my life had come full circle at last. I finally got to meet Amy Grant; below is the picture we took together (she’s the tall gorgeous one on the left).