When someone gives you a dying wish, you want to make good on it.
So, when Jody White’s husband, Brandon, a youth pastor at what is now New Life in Christ Church, 619 Vt., was losing his battle with bone cancer, she took very seriously his hope to see her dreams come true.
“One of the things that he said before he passed away was that he wished that he could’ve seen me get my first book published,” says the Lawrence mom of one, a special education teacher, who had spent 10 years working sporadically on a novel set during the Civil War period.
So, after taking time off to grieve after Brandon’s May 2009 death, White gathered herself together and sent out her finished book to publishing houses and agents.
In January, her book, “Scarlet White” was published by Tate Publishing, and from 1 to 3 p.m. this Saturday, she will be signing copies at Hastings, 1900 W. 23rd St.
The book is set during the Christmas of 1860. Elizabeth, the child of Atlanta plantation owners, and her friend Margaret decide to help runaway slaves escape north through the Underground Railroad. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s brother, Charles, and his friend, Tyler, head north themselves to join the Union army.
White says she wanted to point out to readers that not everybody on the Southern side believed in slavery.
“I’ve been fascinated with the Civil War and I never could understand how people would think that owning other people was OK,” she says. “I knew the stories of Southern Underground Railroads were few and far between, but they were there. I wanted to bring that more to light.”
In one twist, a character loses a leg, just like her husband, who had his leg amputated while fighting cancer. She says she already had that in the book before it happened to Brandon.
“He actually said that I jinxed him when I told him that (plot point),” she says, giggling at the thought of his sense of humor. “But I knew that when so many people lost so many limbs ... I didn’t want everything to be, ‘Oh, yay, it’s perfect, when we went to war.’ Because that wasn’t realistic.”
White has another book, “Chosen by God” in the pipeline with Tate. A series of short stories, it takes the women of the Bible and their stories and transplants them to different settings. That book is set to come out in 2012.