To view all guest author posts so far visit the Author August Page.
In the beginning, in my beginning, there was no God. My parents had both rebelled against their religious upbringings and when they got married, they agreed that there was no way any children of theirs would have to endure enforced Sunday school or weekly confession.
Instead, we’d be left entirely free to choose our own faith, once we reached an age when we were able to make such an important decision. However, this wasn’t exactly how things panned out. Rather than being brought up neutrally – in a ‘spiritual Switzerland’ if you like – my three siblings and I were brought up to see church as something to be avoided at all costs. In our house, religion and capitalism were seen as twin evils, designed to brain-wash and oppress. When I was a girl guide I was banned from going to church parade on a Sunday, the way other children might be banned from talking to strangers. My parents even discussed – in hushed tones – forbidding me from attending school assembly. This horrified me. Not because I particularly enjoyed having to sit cross-legged on a cold hall floor singing Morning Has Broken for what felt like hours on end, but because the only other person who was banned from going to assembly was Jenny Duncan. Jenny Duncan was a Jehovah’s Witness and, according to the school playground grapevine, Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t agree with blood transfusions and therefore believed in letting sick babies die! If my mum and dad banned me from going to assembly people would think that I killed babies too. Or so my panic-stricken eight-year-old self thought. Thankfully, after much begging and pleading on my part, they backed down on that one.
So, why after this kind of upbringing was it so important to me that one of the main characters in my new novel The Moonlight Dreamers should be religious?
After years of believing religion to be ‘the opiate of the masses’ I began to get curious. Everyone I met who had a strong spiritual faith had a strong aura of peace about them and I was intrigued to find out more. For the past six years I’ve studied different faiths and read numerous spiritual texts. I’ve meditated and chanted and taken part in a Mayan cacao ceremony (which was very trippy!) I’ve even spoken in a church. I’m not a member of any religion – but I now understand why having a spiritual faith is so important to so many people, including young adults. In my opinion people of faith are massively under-represented in YA literature and I wanted to do something to redress the balance. I meet thousands of young people in my school workshops and talks and many of them speak movingly about how important their religion is to them and how it influences their hopes and dreams.
And so I created Maali – a kind-hearted, hopeless romantic and devout Hindu. I hope that by reading about her in The Moonlight Dreamers, young adults of other faiths or no faith at all will be interested in her spiritual perspective. And I hope they see – as I have – that religion isn’t always the oppressive, divisive thing that many news headlines would have us believe.
My personal thanks to Siobhan for taking part in Author August!
Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author and was the editorial consultant on Zoe Sugg’s (Zoella’s) first book, Girl Online. She is also a motivational speaker and life coach. Siobhan has written several books for young adults, including Dear Dylan, True Face and Shipwrecked, and has written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Cosmopolitan and Take a Break. She has also been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast. Siobhan lives in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire.