Jennifer Clarke for The Record

One day, in 2007, Larry Haynes was struck by the question, “What would happen if you Googled God?” so he did. And the result was an astounding “349 million hits to that topic.” He considered his own assignments in his youth, such as book reports, and wondered how anyone might go about tackling the breadth of information available on the internet. And the birth of his main character, Nick, in the novel, Googling God, that he penned in coordination with his daughter, Katelynn Haynes, was born.

Initially, Haynes worked through the storyline and developed the work on his own. He submitted the work to a few publishers, including some Christian publishers, but was not picked up by any. He received some interest, but was told his work “was not Christian enough,” or that the publishers wanted to change the storyline, so he continued to hold on to his work and make adjustments on his own. When Katelynn was in the sixth grade, he asked her to take a look, and she did. He anxiously awaited her reaction.

“It was okay, Dad,” she told him. And she offered nothing more on her own.

Larry Haynes was not quite satisfied with “okay,” so he asked his daughter for more information, at which time, she asked him for permission to work on the book herself. “Katelynn spent days typing on it,” he says. And when he got it back, the work was much better. Haynes says Katelynn was a tough critic, ” She was nervous, but I asked her about her ideas and changes, and she told me, ‘that is not how kids talk.'” Katelynn changed the dialogue to be more realistic. “It was much improved by her perspective. From that point on, she contributed to story development and dialogue as well as editing,” asserts Haynes. The book was a full collaboration between father and daughter.

Haynes is proud of what he has accomplished with his daughter, but he also knows how important it is to recognize her accomplishment. ” Katelynn is 15.  She actually did work on this book. She worked her tail off. She spent hours and a lot of dedication on this project. If she hadn’t done the rewrite and changes, it would have never sold. I am extremely proud of her.” And he and Katelynn have been working on another project as well. Haynes also has some projects he is working on individually. 

They learned a great deal about the publishing process and how slow it can be. He considered self-publishing, but really wanted to be accepted by a publisher and have the opportunities that come along with that. It was a long process, and he found the right publisher for their book at Splashing Cow Books. Even after all of the work he and Katelynn put into the novel, they had to go through a line by line editing process with the editors through the publisher as well as some rewrites. “We just received our first hard copies of the book today,” he notes.

Nicholas Teller, the book’s main character, is a sixth grade student faced with a report on a famous person. While his peers are choosing athletes, singers, and world leaders, Nick, mistakenly believes, he can easily accomplish his task by doing his report on God. He soon learns that this task is much more daunting than he originally thought. Nick is facing many obstacles in his own life, but he is determined to complete his assignment. Haynes says, “Nick sets out on a journey to figure out what he can learn about God, and through that he meets a lot of interesting people. He does a series of interviews. He learns there are many beliefs, and God can be found in many places.”

Haynes notes that this story is not a “happily ever after book, and it is not explicitly a Christian story.” Notably, this story has something for everyone, and Haynes suggests that he hopes his readers will “understand and know who God is and that God is there for us. We can find God in some of the strangest places, as Nick does in the story. Sometimes we see God at work in the lives of people. God is everywhere.” Googling God is a humorous story with a serious message. 

Googling God is currently available through the publisher’s website at: Enter Book Farmer Code “HayKate” and receive a 10% discount at the time of purchase. The book may be available at some independent book sellers in the near future.

Upcoming book signings will be held at local schools. Dates and times of the signings will be provided as soon as they are available.