By Megan Miller, Editor
TRUSSVILLE — Alabama author William Thornton will be signing copies of his new book, “Set Your Fields on Fire,” at the Trussville Public Library from 3-5 p.m. Sunday May 1.
Thornton has been a journalist since his freshman year of college, but has been writing fiction on the side for the last two decades. Prior to “Set Your Fields on Fire,” Thornton self-published two books, but won the 2015 Aspiring Authors Contest to have his third formally published. Following winning the contest, publishing distributor Harper Collins picked the book up as well.
The book is set to be sold in 18 stores nationwide, but Thornton is looking to have it sold in other stores as well.
He said the most exciting thing about this book being published is the response he’s seen thus far.
“Writing a book is a very solitary thing,” said Thornton. “You think your thoughts, try to work them out, work to get the manuscript as clean as you possibly can, but you’re never sure anyone is going to get it, much less enjoy it.”
The idea first came to Thornton after reading a Wall Street Journal article that talked about “mystery worshippers,” people who come into a church and experience it like a stranger off the street, and then they provide feedback on what the churches are doing right, and what could be done better to ensure that visitors return. The feedback they provide can be anything from bathroom cleanliness, to accessibility of parking, to the worship style.
Thornton said at the time he started writing the book, his father had just passed away and his mother was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, and he was in need of a few laughs. He started the book and set it aside multiple times before powering through to the end.
“I didn’t really trust the ending I had come up with at the time,” said Thornton. “Then I decided to go with the ending I saw, because the idea was too good not to finish.”
Thornton said the main question he envisioned readers grappling with was how seriously do we take worship, and how seriously do we need to take worship.
While the book has a great deal to do with the church, Thornton said he wanted to make sure the humor in the book and the consent appealed to the masses.
“There’s so many choices for people today in their reading material, and I wanted somebody who had never been to church, or who distrusts the church to have a good read, or even someone who’s spent all their life in church,” said Thornton.
Thornton teaches a Sunday School class for men ages 70 and above, and said that the experience of teaching the class has helped him to realize how “deep and abiding” faith can be, because although some may not be able to articulate it, they know it when they see it and respond to it.
Although Thornton’s book has been described as “edgy and hilarious,” he said he made it a point to be respectful at the same time.
“I don’t want people to think that just because it’s funny it’s disrespectful,” said Thornton. “I’m trying to be as respectful of this as I can be, because it means a lot to me as well.”
“Set Your Fields on Fire” is available through West Bow Press and can also be purchased in eBook form. Thornton lives in the Gadsden area with his wife and daughter.