by Michelle Sutton
This month I want to introduce a very special friend of mine. I first met Amy Wallace in a critique group that we both belonged to. We got to know each other by critiquing each other’s work. What fun that was! (I’m being facetious.) At any rate, I grew to love Amy through reading her work and talking about fiction. I admire her writing as an author, and of course, we share a mutual affinity for chocolate. What’s not to love? So I invited Amy to write about the “heart chocolate” theme on her website, in case you wondered what it was. I know I did until I read this column.
by Amy Wallace
Chocolate. A word that makes mouths water and hips expand without permission. Even so, like countless people before and after me, it remains one of my favorite things. Were you to look at my first birthday pictures—the ones where I’m not eating chocolate but wearing it— it’s easy to see I came by my affinity for chocolate very early in life.
So it’s no surprise I would define my Web presence and writing style by chocolate. Heart Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Suspense, to be exact.
But don’t let the chocolate fool you. What I write and my writing journey to date are not sugar and cocoa beans. They’re both full of God’s grace and an honest look at the dark.
Let me start with a clarification of terms. Then we’ll take a step into writing’s dark side.
Here’s how I define Heart Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Suspense: Heart Chocolate is a calorie-free indulgence consisting of words that wrap around the heart and bring excitement, comfort, and an expanded perspective of how awesome God is.
Dark Chocolate Suspense promises an action-packed story full of characters who breathe and truth that satisfies. The chocolate part defines the characters and the story themes of forgiveness, trust when life hurts, and healing. But the dark captures the essence of Christian suspense, shining a light into the darkness for a redemptive purpose.
Now for a peek into writing’s dark side.
As a suspense author, one of the hardest things I do is research. But instead of telling you about it, let me show you.
Venture back in time with me two years and focus on the sweats-clad author with chocolate nearby, sitting on her office floor surrounded by papers. Red eyes and a growing pile of crumpled Kleenex dot the scene.
Notice the reams of printer paper with tear stains. If you’re brave enough, skim the pages of FBI bulletins, missing child reports, and personal accounts from young crime victims.
Then glance up to the computer. There you will find an e-mail to a group of twenty-four people, begging for their prayers and support. That e-mail to what is now a faithful group of amazing pray-ers represents the wisest career decision I’ve ever made.
Because for me, writing suspense means doing my best to understand my law enforcement heroes and heroines, the people they serve, and my villains. To do that, I read, interview, cry, and pray, especially for the young children and hurting adults wounded by evil.
Writing suspense is also a ministry. As I write, I keep my readers in mind, praying God will infuse the pages with truth and hope and whatever special phrase or circumstance that will touch their hearts and draw them closer to the Lord. I also pray the stories serve as a reminder that the reader isn’t alone in their questions, struggles, hopes, failures, and dreams.
To do all that and stay sane (the sane part is questionable), I’ve found that joining with a group of other believers—some writers, some not—is vital. The amazing group of people who pray with and for me hear my struggles, the spiritual warfare that beats down on my family, my writing challenges, and my hopes and dreams. And as much as I can, I love sharing the answers to prayer they were a huge part of.
They are the best form of heart chocolate ever.
And while I may define my writing ministry via heart chocolate, it’s a concept we can all enjoy and give away. Think of a moment when you experienced the Lord and the strength for the journey that time gave you. Then look for ways to pray, encourage, and point others heavenward.
Share some heart chocolate today. You and the recipient will both be better for it.
Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, Healing Promises, and Enduring Justice, a wife, homeschool mom of three, speaker, Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. She loves crafting high-action suspense that delves deep into heart issues, but who she really is can be summed up in a few short words: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter. Visit Amy at her Heart Chocolate home on the web at www.amywallace.com