FORT MILL — Special to the Fort Mill Times
It’s a story of love, hope and one woman’s sacrifice to save her people.
Based on the story of the biblical character Queen Esther, Fort Mill author Marie Wells Coutu’s novel, “For Such a Moment,” takes a contemporary approach to Esther’s story.
It’s the 62-year-old’s first published novel.
The book is part of the three-part Mended Vessels series, in which each book tells the story of a Biblical woman in a contemporary setting. The other two books in the series focus on the Samaritan woman at the well and Bathsheba. They will be released next year.
Coutu received the three-book contract for her series through the Books of Hope Contest sponsored by Write Integrity Press, an Atlanta-based publisher. Coutu’s manuscript was chosen from 15 finalists.
“I was thrilled,” she said.
“For Such a Moment” was published in June.
The Mended Vessels series focuses on how God restores broken lives, Coutu said.
“All of us are broken people, but with faith in God, we can be restored and find our purpose in life,” she said.
While each book in the series is a stand-alone story, they are connected through themes of forgiveness, restoration and hope.
“For Such a Moment’s” main character Ellen Neilson, an American CEO’s wife, has forsaken her mixed heritage and hopes a baby will save her troubled marriage, but learns a childhood infection has left her infertile. Set in Guatemala, Ellen discovers her husband’s company is poisoning the water in her home with illegal pesticides and must decide if she will risk her own livelihood to save others.
The story is based on how Queen Esther risked her life to save her people.
“She’s a great role model for women today,” Coutu said. “I really wanted to tell the story. I had a heart for this [book].”
Coutu said she hopes her book will teach people to put others before themselves.
“There is often a moment where what we do makes a difference in someone else’s life,” she said.
Coutu starting writing at a young age, working to start a newspaper in her elementary school and writing a play at 8 years old, in which she convinced all the neighborhood kids to participate.
Coutu majored in journalism and spent years writing for newspapers and editing published novels. The author has also worked as the communication specialist at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte for 14 years.
Coutu and her husband, Ed, have lived in Fort Mill for 10 years.
Coutu began working on “For Such a Moment” five or six years ago. After not having success with other publishers, she began working on historical pieces.
“For Such a Moment” was considered a finalist in both the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis Contest and the 2010 Women of Faith Writing Contest. When the Books of Hope contest opened, Coutu saw it would be the perfect opportunity to continue work on her series.
“It felt like it was the right fit,” she said. “I am trying to really get serious about fiction.”
Coutu said one of her biggest supporters is her husband of nearly 42 years, Ed Coutu.
“He is my best salesman,” she said.
Ed said his wife has been a writer since the day he met her.
“She has been supportive of my life hobbies, it’s my turn to support hers,” he said. “It’s quality reading.”
Another of Coutu’s supporters was her mom, who passed away last year. Though she wasn’t able to see the book get published, she did have the chance to read one of Coutu’s earlier manuscripts.
“She was my first teacher and always my greatest supporter,” Coutu said. “I’m sorry she can’t see it in print, but at least she got to read it.”
“For Such a Moment” has received positive reviews so far, Coutu said.
“It’s really rewarding,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to get my first [book] published.”