I was thrilled with The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley from the moment I began to read the first page. It pulled me in instantly and kept me riveted up until the end.
Set in the 1930’s, The Silent Gift tells the story of a ‘silent’ boy named Jack – he is deaf and mute. His mother sees a chance to get her son away from their abusive life and she takes it. Her strength and love for the boy is amazing and inspirational.
The story is emotional and if you’re looking for a quick and easy read, save this one for another day. This book has depth and will pull at your heartstrings and, if you are anything like me, have you reaching for the box of tissues. It’s a faith based book (Christian) but honestly, it doesn’t try to convert you. So even if you’ve had issues with reading this type of book before, look past the genre and just enjoy what it is – a fabulous book full of inspiration for anyone who reads it.
The pairing of Landon Jr. and Kelley is a match made in Biblio-Heaven, in my opinion. Below is a short interview I was fortunate enough to conduct with Michael (and a bit from Cindy, too!). He talks about the book, working with Cindy, upcoming projects and more. Enjoy!
To start would you like to tell me a little bit about the book and the inspiration behind writing it?
The story is set in the late thirties and is about a mother and her handicapped son who is both deaf and mute, but many believe he has the gift of prophecy. The seed of inspiration from the story came when I heard that the pastor of the church we were visiting (Austin Ridge is now my church home) had a son that was eight years old, but had never spoken a word. I began to imagine what life would be like as a parent of a child that couldn’t communicate in any way.
What sort of lesson would you like your readers to gain from reading The Silent Gift?
I never like to say what the takeaway lesson is because I believe a good story will speak to each reader differently. However, there are themes I hope make an impact on the reader such as the theme of brokenness – both internal and external. Jack is an obvious example of external brokenness. He can neither hear nor speak. Mary is an example of someone hiding their external brokenness. Charles is both emotionally and spiritually broken which is internal.
I’d love to know a bit about your writing with Cindy Kelley. How closely did you work together on this project? I’m curious to know how writing with a partner works.
Cindy and I have been writing partners for several years and have developed a system that seems to work for us. Because we’ve worked together so often, we know and rely on each other’s strength to turn out the best work we can do together. I’m all about character and story. I lay out the scenes beat by beat. Cindy’s strength is description and she takes a first pass at the scene that I have laid out for her. Then I will take my pass at the scene. We’ll do this until we have a first draft, then it becomes a process of both of us rewriting and rewriting and rewriting until we feel strongly that all elements are written to the best of our abilities.
I know that you wrote a book that was published last year, also with a co-author. Is there a reason behind writing with a partner?
I was new to the world of novel writing and there was an obvious benefit of teaming with someone with experience.
In the past, you’ve directed movies that are based on books. Are there any plans in the works to make a movie out of The Silent Gift?
That is my desire. But it is partially contingent upon the success of the novel. In the meantime, the book has gone out to some studios for consideration.
When you decide to make a movie based on a book, what type of story attracts you?
To be honest, it’s a very selfish process. It needs to be a book that has impacted me deeply. For example, the reason I pursued “Love Comes Softly” is because of the male lead, Clark Davis. He embodied everything I wanted to be as a father and husband to my family.
I’m sure everyone has heard of your father. Have you ever gained inspiration from him and his body of work?
“Little House on the Prairie” is by far my favorite of my father’s work. I also worked with him as a film loader and assistant cameraman for five years on his series “Highway to Heaven. “
Can you tell me anything about your current or upcoming projects?
I have several projects in different stages of development at this time, but not all of them can be discussed (it could also be quite boring). Two that I can mention are “When Calls the Heart” which is based on another series of books by Janette Oke. The other is “The Shunning” based upon a novel by Beverly Lewis. Both projects are set to film in Spring of 2010.
Do you mind answering a few ‘fun’ questions before we conclude? I’m sure my readers would love to know what your favorite movies and books are. Also, what is the last movie you saw and the last book you read?
From Cindy: My favorite movies are – Sleepless in Seattle, Cinderella Man, Memphis Belle, The Preacher’s Wife and Sense and Sensibility. Books – Gone With the Wind, Secret Life of Bees, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice. The last movie I saw was Dan in Real Life and the last book I read was The Lovely Bones. From Michael: My favorite movies are – Chariots of Fire, It’s a Wonderful Life, Iron Giant, Lawrence of Arabia, E.T., Citizen Cane, Men Don’t Leave (I could go on). Books – The Bible, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Brothers Karamazov, Can Man Live Without God, The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, Stuart Little, The Great Divorce, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Last movie was “Where the Wild Things Are” and last book “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?”
Huge thanks to Michael and Cindy for answering my questions and for allowing me to read this wonderful book!
About the Authors:
Michael Landon Jr., son of the Little House on the Prairie star, has been building his own reputation in the film world and beyond with his highly successful Love Comes Softly movies. His Christian worldview illuminates all his work. He and his wife make a home for their three children near Austin, Texas. Cindy Kelley and Michael have co-written film scripts together for over a decade, including the screenplays for most of the beloved Love Comes Softly films. Cindy and her husband, Jim, have three children and a granddaughter and make their home in Tucson, Arizona