Local author donates royalties to Mount Vernon Salvation Army
By Callan Pugh
News Staff Reporter for Mount Vernon News
(appeared in Saturday, December 16, 2017 Mount Vernon News)
Mount Vernon – Local author Aaron Daniel Behr has pledged to donate a portion the royalties from his first novel, “The Husband” to the Salvation Army.
All of Behr’s presale royalties earned from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1 will be donated to the Kettle Efforts (bell-ringing) done by The Mount Vernon Salvation Army this time of year, which aids in Food For the Hungry efforts. “The Husband” is set to be released on Jan. 23. Behr plans further his donation to The Mount Vernon Salvation Army with a pledge of his first $200,000 in royalty earnings starting Jan. 1 until the goal is met/ The donation with specifically go to help with youth programing.
Behr explained that the novel, which takes a look at mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression, is a memoir that doesn’t function as a memoir. The story of characters simple named The Husband and The Wife and told in third person, will serve, Behr hopes, as a tool to start the conversation and to break down the stigma of mental illness, especially those who are “silent suffers.” Behr explained that he wanted the story to be something that men, who are traditionally held to a standard of showing little emotion, can look to for inspiration to be themselves, to be honest about how they are feeling and know that it is OK to ask for help.
As a child, Behr experienced bullying, which exacerbated his anxiety and depression. He carried those feelings with him into adulthood and explained that he really struggled with feelings of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide prior to writing the novel. “The Husband” started out as a passion project and a source of healing as Behr began “addressing questions within himself.”
The main character, The Husband, like Behr, was bullied as a child. As an adult, The Husband is forced to reconcile the bullying he experienced in childhood and continued to experience in adulthood, and to look critically at how taxing it can be for those who experience it and for those who love them. Mental illness, Behr explained, can be just as hard on a relationship as physical illness.
Behr sent the original 40,000 word novel to a friend, a copy editor, who told him it was worthy of a novel. After some revisions, the book was picked up by Columbus Press for publishing.
Behr has had a relationship with the Mount Vernon Salvation Army for some time. He graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in 2007 with a degree in English literature. He explained that at this time he was “out of a job and really needed one,” which he found at the Salvation Army. He managed finances and helped with things such as keeping the Food For the Hungry pantry stocked and providing meals. He was inspired by the way Captain Jon and Sienna Jackson, the leaders of the Salvation Army at the time, showed their concern for the disenfranchised and worked hard for equality. He left when the Jacksons left, but recently decided to get involved with the Salvation Army again.
He noted that Lieutenants Christina Baker and Megan Ashcraft, who currently lead the Mount Vernon Salvation Army, are “astounding people” who have a true heart for Mount Vernon and Knox County in their service and in the love shown to the people they help. The youth programs especially inspired Behr to give back.
“I didn’t have someone show me that kind of love outside of the family structure as a kid,” Behr explained tearfully. “If I had had that sort of support as a kid, maybe my life would have turned out much differently.”
Behr said that the themes the book explores of being bullied and ostracized are themes that the youths in these programs deal with every day and that Baker and Ashcraft address and help with in the programs. This connection inspired Behr to give back.
“This story is not just my story to be told,” Behr explained. “It’s about so many people who get into relationships where they are abused because that’s all they have ever known … and if this book can be a hug or love for those people, that’s really what it’s all about.”
“The Husband” is currently available for pre-sale at aarondanielbehr.com.
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