Author:  Charles Martin
Title:  "Maggie"
Publisher:   WestBow

Charles Martin is establishing himself at center stage among the stellar storytellers of this generation. His work is superb. His characters are fanciful, yet deep and three-dimensional. His storylines are fun, yet gripping. His themes are down-to-earth, right where you and I live, yet eternal. He is an extraordinary craftsman using words to create true art.

His latest, "Maggie," is now on the shelves.

Maggie Styles is the title character in this sequel to Martin's debut novel, "The Dead Don't Dance" (though a couple of other titles came in between). In Martin's initial story, Maggie lapsed into a coma when her first child died at birth. Her husband Dylan subsequently fell into despair and hopelessness.

Now, in "Maggie," Dylan and Maggie struggle to rebuild their shattered life together after Maggie awakens from her four-month coma. They still desperately desire children, by birth or adoption. But it appears that neither avenue is going to be easy for them. Passing time and the pain of being childless drive them farther and farther apart.

But don't let the despair mislead you. Dylan and Maggie's story is a story of hope. In fact, Martin believes deeply in hope and faith. And the fact that those elements give the human spirit the strength to survive and bounce back from tragedy.

"Hope is worth writing about," Martin said in an exclusive interview. "It's worth lifting up. If my books don't do that, then I hope they're not published. Here's what I pray about my stories. C.S. Lewis said he hoped his stories stand as road signs to Jerusalem. I hope my stories do that. I hope they filter down through people's heads into their hearts and kind of shake off the scales on the hard spots and get through the crusty exteriors to the soft stuff inside, and then touch that."

"The Dead Don't Dance" appeared in 2004 and was a finalist for a 2005 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction. His second, "Wrapped in Rain," was a finalist in 2006. Earlier this year came "When Crickets Cry."

"I wonder sometimes about being pigeonholed as Christian fiction," Martin said, "because I think my books have an audience that's broader than the Christian world. But I really don't care what people label me, as long as I get to write stories. My books are not agenda-driven. I'm really just trying to write a story."

With four top-tier stories in two years, the word prolific comes to mind. Some might think burn-out. Will the well run dry? Will his stories begin to repeat? Will he last? Everything so far says he'll make it for the long haul. Neither Martin's style nor his substance is diminished in the least. Every title so far reflects fresh concepts, great energy and a creative edge that just grows sharper.

Apparently, others in the field agree. Martin has signed a multi-book contract with Doubleday where he will still produce stories of faith and hope, but in an arena that offers exposure and the chance to touch those beyond the close circle of Christian literature.

"That's my heart," Martin said. "It's what I hope, because one of these days, I'm going to stand before the Lord with my gift, and I will have either honored Him with it or not. What I hope is that when I get there, I'll look on His shelf and see He's got my books there."


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