BYU marketing grad turns to literature

Author Slade Combs reads through The Choice in a subway station. Combs wrote the book to open dialogue about the issue of child sexual abuse. (Corinne Monson)
Author Slade Combs reads through “The Choice” in a New York subway station. Combs wrote the book to open dialogue about the issue of child sexual abuse. (Corinne Monson)

Slade Combs hasn’t always written books. He graduated from BYU with a marketing degree and moved to New York City to work as a commercial director, but his first book ranked the No. 1 recommended novel for adults on a Today Show Twitter poll.

“The Choice: Death Is Just The Beginning,” is a novel about deceased beings who become guardians of sexually abused children.

“It’s my hope to create a social tool that allows people to finally talk about this topic that’s kind of taboo,” Combs said. “A tool that enables people to talk about it openly, honestly, and without fear or reservation.”

Combs wanted his book to bring about social change like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” did more than 150 years go. The book is intended to entertain but also to create a dialogue about child abuse and the afterlife.

His inspiration to write came the same way as it does for many authors. After having a dream one night, he woke up and had the impression to sit down at his desk with a pen and paper. “The minute I held that pen, the entire story just came.”

Combs originally sat down to write a film screenplay but realized production costs would be too high to do the project justice. He spent six years working on his novel, traveling and researching different religions, “filling in the holes to the narrative.”

Combs interviewed people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds about their views of heaven. Everyone disagreed on certain points, but one commonality he found was most religions believe in a transition state between death and heaven. “People can tell you what heaven isn’t, but they have a hard time telling you what it is.”

Combs grew up in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and feels comfortable talking about the subject of the afterlife. While his writing was influenced by his LDS background, Combs studied the Torah, the Qu’ran and the Old and New Testaments to help him describe the afterlife. Combs claimed the defining message of “The Choice” is that “Heaven isn’t a place you can go to escape your fears; it is a place for those who have already faced them.”

Combs attributes much of his book’s success to his atheist editor and to people who surprised him along the way. “Everyone has come out of the woodwork to help at just the right time, which has been such a blessing for me.”

This book is only the beginning for Combs, as he plans to add five more books to the series.“There’s a lot more to talk about,” he said.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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