Called “emotionally charged” and “engrossing” by Publishers Weekly, Blessed Are the Wholly Broken is the harrowing story of a modern family in the midst of self-destruction.
After the heartbreak of losing their newborn son to a previously undiagnosed genetic condition, Phillip and Anna Lewinsky manage to pick up the pieces of their broken lives and move forward, filling the emptiness with friends, work, and travel.
When Anna unexpectedly finds herself pregnant again at the age of forty-three, Phillip is thrilled to have a second chance at fatherhood in spite of Anna’s objections. But the scars from their long-buried grief run deep, and as desires clash, misunderstandings abound, and decisions are irrevocably made, the fractured foundation of their marriage begins to crumble until only tragedy remains.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’m a licensed psychotherapist, and although no longer working with clients, I’m still fascinated by the motivations behind the choices we make. What leads us down the paths we choose? Would others make the same choices?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My protagonists tend to be middle-aged men and women, each faced with a difficult decision or situation, each struggling to make the right choices. I enjoy working with characters that are middle-aged or older because I think it’s a fascinating time in life.
Prologue: May 13, 2013—Sentencing
Around me I hear the sounds of incarceration echoing against cold concrete: shouting, banging, an occasional sob. The air is putrid, a stale mixture of urine, sweat, bleach, and vomit. In the beginning I could scarcely fathom becoming used to such things, but after nearly a year in this cell, in some odd way the noise and the stench have come to represent home. I’m comforted by the consistency of the assault on my senses, much as one finds comfort in the numbing monotony of white noise.
The call came exactly four minutes ago, so I wait for the armed guards and the quick trip to the courthouse where I will meet my attorney. Together, we will face the jury—a jury of my peers, they said, and at one time that would have been accurate. But these people are no peers of mine; I’ve crossed a line that ensures this to be true.
There is no doubt of my guilt; that was already determined. What is in dispute is the depth of my guilt. For weeks I sat at the defense table, my mouth dry, my eyes drier, and listened to the horror of my crime. The carefully prepared defense of my actions crumbled away like so much dust in the wind, blown apart by my own behavior. By the end, even I knew I was a monster, not for the reasons they cited—not because I had killed my wife—but because I didn’t save her sooner.
More recent words play themselves through my mind as I wait for the telltale jingle of keys. Aggravating factors. Particularly cruel, stood to gain sole custody of a minor, planned and premeditated, preyed upon vulnerabilities.
It is not enough to label me guilty; the question is: Am I guilty enough to put to death? It is a necessary part of the process; this, I understand. The court needs closure; the jury needs to feel they’ve fulfilled their responsibilities, the family needs to feel vindicated. True and just punishment must be meted out within the appropriate parameters of the law.
I will go with my lawyer into the courtroom. I will sit again, as I have sat for weeks, and wait for others to determine my fate. Life imprisonment or death; that is the question. And while the outcome matters immensely to the other players in this drama of my life, it matters not at all to me. I am dead either way.
Melinda Clayton is the author of The Cedar Hollow Series, which includes novels Appalachian Justice, Return to Crutcher Mountain, and Entangled Thorns. Clayton’s fourth book in the Cedar Hollow Series, Shadow Days, is slated for publication in the fall of 2014.
Clayton also authored Blessed Are the Wholly Broken, a dark tale of tragedy and suspense, as well as the non-fiction guide Self-publishing Made Simple: A How-to Guide for the Non-tech-savvy Among Us.
In addition to writing, Clayton has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado.
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