Beth Moore is best known for her speaking tours, Bible study books, and nonfiction books, including the 2010 bestseller So Long, Insecurity (Tyndale), but when Tyndale editor Karen Watson asked her about a possible novel, “the question landed with a heavy thud because I’ve wondered about writing fiction since childhood,” Moore told PW.
So Long, Insecurity reached the New York Times and PW bestseller lists and has sold 148,138 print units to date, according to Nielsen BookScan. Her most recent title, Audacious (B&H, 2015), was also a hit, selling 80,545 print units copies to date.
Nevertheless, Moore turned her attention away from what she calls her “primary calling” of nonfiction and began working on a novel in secret. “I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a novel for ages,” Moore said. “I never dreamed it would happen or that I’d finish it.”
Today, Moore’s secret is out of the bag, and The Undoing of Saint Silvanus will be published by Tyndale in September. The book is nearly 500 pages of Southern mystery and down-home colloquialism, reflecting Moore’s love of New Orleans. It’s a lead title for Tyndale, with the initial print run of 100,000+ copies, which is “consistent with best-selling authors like Francine Rivers and Joel Rosenberg,” according to the publishing house.
The story centers on Jillian Slater, who returns to New Orleans at the request of Adella Atwater—manager of her grandmother Olivia Fontaine’s apartment building called Saint Sans—upon the death of Jillian’s, father Raphael Fontaine. Jillian and Olivia struggle through their grief, finding healing with help from Adella and the odd cast of characters who populate the apartments.
“I come from a background of deep family conflict,” said Moore. “Starting in 2012, something really hard happened and it hit me in such a way that I went mute. I had so much going on inside that I couldn’t tell what was going on. I sat at my laptop and started writing a story.”
Her novel reflects the drama that unfolds in families after years of conflict and generational dysfunction. “The story is important because God is reconciling situations and people who don’t want to be reconciled,” said Moore.
Saint Silvanus is a far cry from her nonfiction work, but faith still played a major role in the writing process, according to Moore. Faith elements are found throughout the story, with Olivia Fontaine rekindling her belief in God while Jillian comes to faith by the end of the book.
Moore’s debut in fiction arrives during a sales slump in Christian fiction, but she remains unfazed. “I don’t write for the money,” she said. “I write because something in me is constantly compelled.”
Pre-orders for The Undoing of Saint Silvanus come with four free gifts on bethmoorenovel.com, where readers can also download New Orleans-inspired recipes, book group guides, and other exclusive content. Moore will help launch Saint Silvanus with a media tour including radio and TV interviews as well as book signings in Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Orange County, Calif. Further, Moore is planning a live webcast book group to take place on January 20 called Beth’s Big Book Group LIVE from the Big Easy.