Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blog Tour: The Unfinished Gift (Review & Interview)


A young boy, an angry grandfather and a past hurt, so wide, the chasm that separates family members might not be breached – even in the midst of a family crisis.

That's the setting Dan Walsh's novel, The Unfinished Gift, set a week before Christmas in 1943, during World War II.

“Christmas is a time we mostly associate with joy and presents and family traditions,” Walsh said. “Yet for many it's a time that merely highlights the brokenness in their family lives. All around us are reminders of how happy it should be, but these things only remind us how far off track our own story has become.

“I wanted to write a story that identifies with this but offers a message of hope, a reminder of why Christ really came: to reconcile us first to God, then to each other. I wanted to write, in an entertaining and enjoyable way, a story about the power of God's forgiveness, told mostly through the eyes of a child at Christmas.”

The real focus of the story, Walsh explained, is the backstory – the fractured relationship between the grandfather, Ian Collins, and Patrick’s father, Shawn.

“[This] existed before little Patrick was even born,” Walsh said. “The battle between fathers and sons is ageless. I've known so many men who've had difficult relationships with their fathers, only to become men who have difficult relationships with their sons.”

In The Unfinished Gift, Walsh tried to present a way out of this vicious cycle.

“It has to start somewhere,” he said. “As Jesus said (speaking of children), ‘The Kingdom belongs to such as these.’ And He told us, ‘Unless we become like little children, we'll never see the Kingdom.’

“Patrick enters this horrendous crisis, equipped only with childlike faith and the wonderful lessons his mother taught him. Yet, by God's grace, it becomes enough to see a miracle unfold.”

Writing the Novel
Walsh created The Unfinished Gift after watching several classic movies, including It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, during Christmas 1998.

“I wanted to write a story like that, one that at least had the potential to affect others the way these stories affect me,” Walsh said. “The whole thing came to me over two or three days. I actually saw the ending of the book first, like a scene from a movie playing in my thoughts.

“Over the next two days, different parts of the story kept dropping into my head. I kept stopping and writing them down. In a few days, the whole story was there, from beginning to end. Like a detailed synopsis. From there I sat down and started writing the book. Though many more details emerged as I wrote it, as far as the story itself, what you see in the book is exactly what came during that burst of inspiration back in 1998.”

World War II and Beyond
Walsh set the book during World War II, because it is one of his favorite historical periods.

“My shelves are filled with books from this era,” he said. “When the story came to me it came in that setting. If I were ever sent back in time, it's probably the one period where I feel I could blend right in.”

As the manuscript began to unfold, other benefits of a World War II setting began to emerge.

“[During World War II] the country was so different,” Walsh said. “We were unified, life itself was much simpler and faith was a normal part of life.

“It allowed me to move in and out of important issues, including faith issues, without seeming the least bit forced or preachy.”

The setting has allowed the novel to reach readers in both the churched and unchurched audiences.

“I've gotten many emails from readers saying they felt they could easily buy the book as a gift to someone they're trying to reach,” Walsh explained.

Walsh said he hopes readers will find a book that they love to read. He also hopes they are reminded that with God, anything is possible.

“No heart is too hard for Him to reach, no distance too far for Him to close. Add to that, a fresh perspective of the power of forgiveness," Walsh said.

The Homecoming
In June 2010, Walsh’s sequel to The Unfinished Gift, The Homecoming, will be released.

“When I completed The Unfinished Gift, I hadn't planned on a sequel,” Walsh admitted. “But virtually everyone who read it--my wife, my test readers, my agent and my editor--all said something like this at the end: ‘Now in the future, this is going to happen, right?’”

“They all suggested the same thing. It was something I had already begun thinking about. I can give you this clue, the sequel includes a powerful love story (one I hope Jane Austen fans will appreciate).”

What’s Next
Walsh has completed his third novel, tentatively titled The Deepest Waters. Inspired by a true story, the novel is set in 1857, and involves a newlywed couple and a shipwreck.

“We get to travel back to the beginning days of San Francisco, spend time in old New York and experience life out on the open sea,” Walsh said.

He said the novel has been received well by his agent and editor, and it may be expanded into a mulit-book deal.

What I Thought - The Review
I really liked this book. It carries a simple, yet timeless message regarding the importance of family relationships.I also liked having the chance to step back into time, to when life seemed "simpler."

Through the book, Walsh has developed a cast of characters that you'll feel like you know - a woman who has a passion for helping young children, a little boy facing a devastating loss, a grandfather who has to face his past to move into the future, and a neighbor determined to help carry out her friend's dying wish.

I could easily see this novel being turned into a "made for TV movie," because it has a message of love and redemption that crosses the generations.

If you are looking for a book to curl up with (along with a cup of hot chocolate), then check out "The Unfinished Gift." I think you'll find it is a good read.

About The Book
The Unfinished Gift is set in 1943, a week before Christmas. Patrick’s mother has recently died in a car accident and he is being sent across town to stay with a grandfather he’s never met while the Army tries to locate his father, a bomber pilot in England. Patrick’s father and grandfather haven’t spoken since before Patrick was born. The book explores the surprising things God uses to affect powerful changes in our hearts; like a little boy’s prayers, a shoebox full of love letters, and an old wooden soldier collecting dust in a grandfather’s attic.


More About Dan Walsh
Dan Walsh is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, a church he helped found 23 years ago. He is the author of The Unfinished Gift and lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area. 

"I am an author who loves solitude but needs and likes people," explained Walsh. "I love quiet but also a roomful of friends. I love to laugh, make others laugh and even be laughed at (to a point). But I'm also a sap; I cry way too easily watching movies and inspirational shows.

"But I also like to watch action movies with my son. I eat just a little too much but don't exercise near enough. Finally, I'm nothing without my wife and my Savior's love."

His Favorite Character in The Unfinished Gift: Mrs. Fortini, the Italian grandmother who lives next door.
If you read the book...how can you not like her?



Read an Excerpt On-Line
The Unfinished Gift

Download a PDF Excerpt: Click here!

Purchase the Book at Amazon

Spoiler Alert. Going Deeper Into the Sequel

The Story Continues - The Homecoming: Coming in June 2010

No sooner is Shawn Collins home from the fighting in Europe than he is called upon to serve his country in another way--as a speaker on the war bond tour. While other men might jump at the chance to travel around the country with attractive Hollywood starlets, Shawn just wants to stay home with his son Patrick and the aging father with whom he has finally reconciled. When Shawn taps Katherine Townsend to be Patrick's nanny while he's on the road, he has no idea that she will be the key to his future happiness and the mending of his heart.



Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

1 comment:

  1. Love your little FTC comment! And I appreciated your angle on featuring his sequel. Can't wait myself!

    ReplyDelete

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