We are giving away a total of 10 books, 4 via Facebook, 3 via Twitter, and 3 via Pinterest. We are also giving away one “grand prize” package, consisting of a special print edition (with a unique cover and limited edition artwork) and a “Rehoboam” t-shirt.
You can enter the giveaway 3 ways (and you are welcome to enter in all 3 ways):
To enter the Facebook giveaway, you must do two things:
To enter the Pinterest giveaway, you must do one thing: Re-pin any one of our 13:24 pins: this one or this one.
If you enter all three of our giveaways, you will be eligible for the “grand prize” drawing as well.
Official rules are as follows:
1) You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
2) You must be a resident of the United States.
3) You are welcome to enter all 3 of the giveaways (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest), HOWEVER…
4) You can win only one giveaway prize total.
5) Winners will be randomly selected from all entries.
6) To be eligible to win the “grand prize” package, you must enter all 3 of the giveaways.
The giveaway opens immediately and will close this Friday, April 18, at 12 pm PST. Winners will be announced via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest shortly thereafter.
Legal disclaimer: This giveaway is coordinated by Homeschoolers Anonymous and M Dolon Hickmon. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest neither endorse nor are sponsoring the promotion. No purchase is necessary to participate in this giveaway. All promotional material and images from 13:24 are shared with permission by Rehoboam Press. Homeschoolers Anonymous is receiving no compensation for promoting 13:24. If you lack access to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and would like to nonetheless participate in the giveaway, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for entry.
Note from R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator: I am honored to interview M Dolon Hickmon, author of the brand new novel “13:24,” for HA You can read my review of his novel here. Hickmon is a child abuse survivor, a writer and an anti-abuse activist. He married his wife in 2007, and they have one daughter together. He dedicates his time and skills to advocating on behalf of mistreated children, often in cooperation with children’s rights groups and other advocates. Learn more about him at his book’s website here.
HA:Thank you for being willing to do this interview. Can you tell us a bit about your personal background?
MDH: My parents were ‘saved’ in an Independent Baptist church when I was between three and four years old. It was a high-control group, with a family model based on male dominance. My earliest memories are of beatings and of witnessing domestic violence. Our pastor’s solution to spouse- and child abuse was to call for perfect obedience, so that the family head would have no reason to be provoked. Fortunately my mother kept trying until she found a secular psychologist who helped convince our abuser to leave that church.
HA:13:24 is an intense, brutal, and deeply personal — yet vastly accurate — read. What inspired you to write it?
MDH: The easiest way to answer that is with a comparison: Thirty years ago, child molesters were pictured as violent rapists, who attacked unwary strangers. Victims were expected to make an immediate outcry. Meanwhile, accusations against coaches, parents, or priests were met with disbelief, or dismissed as bizarre flukes. Today, we know that society had those percentages backwards; it was actually stranger attacks that were a vanishing minority. But it took decades for sexual abuse survivors to convince schools, churches, police officers, prosecutors and judges that their policies were based on bad assumptions.
Today, on the subject of physical abuse, society is where we were on sexual abuse fifty years ago. Our entire system of thought is based on a set of almost clownish stereotypes. 13:24 exposes our false assumptions. It is based on real crimes, on real science, and on real survivors’ experiences. But what makes it disturbing is that when people are exposed to the truth, they immediately realize that our entire culture is off in the woods, when it comes to dealing with this problem. We are fighting imaginary boogeymen, while the actual perpetrators walk free among us.
HA: There are so many different ways you could have written something powerful about your personal experiences and the impressive amount of research you have done of the subject of religiously-motivated physical abuse. What attracted you to a novel as your method of delivery?
MDH: Outside of therapy groups, discussions of physical abuse tend to be dominated by the opinions of people who have not experienced it. These people are often kindhearted and well intentioned, but their understanding of the problem is shallow. It’s hard to address their mistaken beliefs, because they hold the majority and agree with one another. The novel is unique because we remember what we’ve read as if it were a personal experience. I think this is the key—for the majority to have a way of adding the victims’- and survivors’ perspective to their pool of shared experience.
HA: It has been noted — by people who grew up in cultures similar to the ones you describe in your book — how uncannily accurate your descriptions are of certain thought-patterns and sociopolitical realities within conservative American evangelical worlds. You also go into great detail about police and social work. Can you describe what your research process was and how long it took?
MDH: Often, it was as easy as Googling a phrase that I recalled my abuser had said. I also consulted with quite a few authorities, including a psychologist and trauma researcher, a retired vice detective, an active Postal Inspector, a working dominatrix, a police dog trainer, and others.
HA: Even though you tell the story through words in a novel, you really paint a vivid picture of Rehoboam’s music — lyrics, rhythm, melodies, even what their live performances feel and sound like. Why did you place such an emphasis on music?
MDH: In several instances, readers see an instigating childhood experience, and then discover through Josh’s lyrics how his adult mind has processed that event. However, the music is also part of a much bigger social dilemma: When a teenager commits murder, society is quick to consider to the influence of music, television or videogames; but when innumerable parents discipline their children to death, people are reluctant to examine the claims that are being made in the parenting advice that all of them read. I don’t know the answer, but I found the double-standard interesting to consider.
HA: 13:24 ends on an emotionally somber note: neither prescriptively hopeful, nor necessarily hopeless. Without giving anything away, can you talk about why you chose to end on the particular emotional note you did?
MDH: People who overcome child abuse are remarkable, because they have accomplished something that is both difficult and rare. I think the media belittles that accomplishment by making it seem as if every child abuse victim overcomes and is stronger for that experience, in the end. The reality is that there are a lot of unhappy endings. Children die, and those who survive often wind up addicted, or in prison; they make messes of their marriages, and do regrettable things to their own kids. I think 13:24 offers readers a balanced ending, which reflects the range of responses that are normal for human beings.
HA: In your discussion of religiously-motivated physical abuse, both in the novel and elsewhere, you hold nothing back in pointing to how pervasive the relevant problems are: existing not only private schools and home schools, but also public schools. What are some facts you think are important for homeschool advocates in particular to know about parallel problems in private and public schools? And how can or should we work together to address these problems?
When it comes to sexual abuse, we now realize that it is not enough for adults to be watchful and protective; children must be taught to protect themselves, because when abuse occurs, it is usually only the victim and the perpetrator in the room. We need a similar revolution in our thinking about physical abuse. You can’t leave it to parents, because abusers are never going to willingly give victims advice on how to escape. So whether you are a pastor, a neighbor, or family member, the obligation is for all adults to appropriately discuss physical abuse with the children they come in contact with. Kids should know that discipline does not leave children injured or scarred, or feeling worthless or terrified.
HA: One of my favorite sections in 13:24 was the “group therapy” scene were characters talk about the real physiological impacts trauma can have on the body, particularly the brain. Do you think there’s any connection between religious fundamentalists’ fear of taking mental health issues seriously and their unwillingness to talk about child abuse?
MDH: The church is certainly not the only institution that is failing to fully address those two issues. But given that corporal punishment is no longer recommended by any group of secular experts, I think the responsibility is now on pastors to be proactive in educating very young church members about the difference between discipline that is constructive, and physical abuse, which only contributes to mental health problems, substance abuse and rebellion.
HA: What’s next for you? Are you writing another novel?
MDH: I am in the pre-planning stages for a second novel. This one will also deal with abuse and spiritual themes.
HA: Thank you once again for doing this interview. Any closing thoughts?
MDH: I would like to ask everyone to consider how your own conversations about child discipline might seem to a child who is being physically abused. Are you explaining correction so that a five- or nine year old abuse victim can understand when she needs help? Do your words convey that abuse is unacceptable and that other adults will believe and protect? Because if you are not teaching kids to protect themselves from physical abuse, who will?
The highest praise I can give M Dolon Hickmon’s debut novel is a trigger warning: While I believe that everyone everywhere needs to read this book, I must urge those with a history of physical or sexual abuse to approach this title with care. I personally had a nervous breakdown after I finished it; I couldn’t breathe because it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. And I could not console myself by saying, “This is fiction.” It isn’t, as anyone who has experienced child abuse will recognize.
In his prologue, the author explains his intentional use of real-life parallels, based on his childhood experiences and research into religiously-motivated child abuse. Also examined are the intersections between child trafficking rings, physical and sexual abuse, and fundamentalist cults. Woven with fictional elements, these create the book’s complex, dark, and brutal narrative.
13:24 is the story of two young men: Josh, a rising rock star, and Chris, the neglected teenaged son of a drug addict. Their stories begin distinct and distant, but as the novel develops, their pasts—and futures—are revealed to be connected in ways that both shock and disturb.
The story opens on a gruesome murder. While the body count rises, questions multiply as a small-town detective chases Chris as a murder suspect. Along the way, readers encounter events and characters with uncanny real-life parallels: Josh has flashbacks of being abused by his minister father, who resembles Michael Pearl and advocates harsh physical punishment; in another thread, a controversial parenting manual is linked to a spate of discipline-related deaths, bringing to mind real-life cases, like those of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz. Elsewhere, an imprisoned child abuser is freed through the efforts of a “homeschool legal defense fund”, reminiscent of the Home School Legal Defense Association. At the same time, an oily “Christian psychologist” heads a James Dobson-esque media empire, with tendrils in state and national politics.
13:24 may be fiction, but it describes the lives of any number of people I have known. In its imagery, I recognize moments that friends and colleagues have breathed and suffered through. That is what made this novel so hard for me to read.
The book exposes what many religious and homeschooled children experience every day. Readers witness their pain and hear their cries. We see their misery multiplied when it is justified in the name of God; we see their tragedies covered up to save face and preserve religious “freedom”. And unlike a Frank Peretti novel, there are no angels rushing in to the save the day. We must pick up the pieces and fight this present darkness.
Despite the darkness, 13:24 has a poetic beauty. That beauty is in the narrative symmetry: a murder begins it and a murder concludes it. While death marks where the story begins and ends, there is a profound shift in what those deaths mean. This is the power of Hickmon’s prose: he delves deep into pain, into what he has described in his subtitle as “faith and obsession,” and shows us the human faces behind news headlines’ “monsters.”
13:24 is not easy reading. It is neither uplifting nor redemptive. It will crack your heart open, set your blood on fire, and turn your screams into music. Most significantly, the characters’ actions are neither justified nor condemned by the author. He simply allows them to exist. In doing so, Hickmon gives readers an uncommon gift: a brief look behind the curtain of tragedy, a fleeting chance to understand a little more than we did.