First time Imperial author publishes “Willing to Touch”


willingtotouchIMPERIAL – Jairus, a respected synagogue ruler, agonizes over his dying child. Leah, a scorned outcast, faces a devastating divorce after years of chronic bleeding.


A miracle-working rabbi has moved to Capernaum who could help them, but it is risky.


Leah knows she will defile anyone she touches-including this holy man.


Jairus knows certain religious leaders have condemned Jesus as a heretic. Both desperately need the rabbi’s healing touch, but Jairus has a reputation to protect-and Leah has one to overcome.



Most Christians are familiar with the stories of Jesus’ healing in the New Testament. Marianne Selay of Imperial, author of Willing to Touch, thought deeply about these two people whose lives were so dramatically changed by Him.


“Soon I started wondering about their lives outside of the few sentences in the Bible. Who were their families, what did they do, what were their lives like?”  Little did she know coming events in her  own life would compel her to write about theirs.


Marianne grew up with a love of reading and writing in Buffalo, New York. “Writer’s write,” she said about herself. “I kind of have to do it.”


Marianne left the East Coast and moved to Tucson, Arizona. That is where she met and married her husband, Mark.


A few weeks later, they moved to the Havasupai Indian Reservation, where Mark taught school. Supai is eight miles down at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Their mail and groceries came by mule train. There were no cars, TVs, or radios.


The newlyweds walked everywhere, played board games and got to know each other and their neighbors. According to Marianne, it was a great way to start a marriage.


Ben, Mark, and Marianne Selay
Ben, Mark, and Marianne Selay

Later they moved to Imperial, California, where they raised their three sons.



The people mentioned in the Gospel of Mark, the synagogue ruler, Jairus, and the women with blood issues, whom Marianne named Leah, eventually helped heal Marianne.


Marianne’s husband, Mark, had been laid up with a major shoulder injury, and in her own words, “I was the worst nurse.”


The stress of trying to help her husband through his trials, then on the day the doctor declared him healed, dealing with a major car accident that almost took her son’s life and re-broke Mark’s shoulder, was almost too much for her to bear.


“Here Ben (the son) was, 21 years old, and having open-heart surgery,” Marianne remembered.


Marianne turned to God first, then Jairus and Leah whom had taken up residency in her head, and brought them back to life on paper.


She felt the Holy Spirit prompting her about their lives, she researched 1st Century Jewish life and culture, and she spent hours typing as Jairus and Leah became flesh and blood for her.


Marianne had found a way to relieve her stress of their family’s trauma.


It helped that Marianne and Mark had traveled previously to Israel. She remembered standing in Capernaum where the story’s Biblical healing from the Messiah occurred. She visited the ruins of the synagogue Jairus oversaw back when Jesus walked the earth.


These memories flooded back as she wrote.


Marianne remembered she even dreamt how the book should end. “I sat up in bed and woke Mark and told him I finally knew how to end the book gracefully. He looked at me, knowing I obsessed about them during the day and said, ‘You even dream about them?’”


Her work eventually ended with the final chapter. She isn’t sure what her next project will be, but knows one will come. For now, she is content selling her current book.


Marianne will be having an upcoming book signing for “Willing to Touch” after the holidays at The Well in El Centro. “Willing to Touch” can also be found on Amazon.