Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. In 1994 Terri was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Her recent book, Predator, was inspired by her experiences on Facebook and Twitter. Vicious Cycle, Book Two of the Intervention Series, releases February 22, 2011. She’s currently working on Book Three. Other recent books include Double Minds, as well as Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. Terri makes her home in Mississippi, with her husband Ken. Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. Visit her website at http://www.terriblackstock.com/.

Christian Murder Mysteries and Suspense

When I tell people who don’t read Christian fiction that I write Christian murder mysteries and suspense, they usually stare at me as if I’ve just told them that I write Amish erotica. How could anything Christian have to do with murder? And why would anyone want to read it?

Then there are those who don’t read fiction at all and are convinced that reading anything other than Christian sermons and guilt-inducing nonfiction is a sin. One sweet, well-meaning lady told me that she doesn’t read my books. “I don’t even have time to read good books,” she said. I had to laugh, because she didn’t mean to offend me. I knew what she meant. She considered fiction to be a waste of time, something that has no eternal value and takes people away from the real work in the kingdom of God. But, oh, how wrong she is!

Over the years of living the Christian life, I’ve learned that it’s not the sermons or the self-help books that have made the biggest impact on my life. Even if I read or listen to those in amazement, profoundly moved, I find that I forget the lessons they teach the moment I close the book or walk out of the sanctuary. But if I experience those lessons, they are forever burned on my brain and my heart, and imprinted on my soul. Jesus understood this, and that’s why he taught in parables most of the time.

He knew that one way to get listeners to experience a lesson was to tell a story with characters the audience could relate to. He could help them step into the skin of those characters and feel what they felt. When he said, “There was once a man who had two sons,” the people listening were instantly in that story, hurting with that father who watched the horizon for his son, suffering with the prodigal who’d squandered everything good he’d ever known, fuming with the brother who felt slighted. They not only learned the lessons Christ taught, but also they never forgot them. We’re still reading and repeating those stories today.

That’s why I make no apologies for writing Christian thrillers. I know without a doubt that God, who gave me my imagination, called me to write these books. Through telling these stories about suffering and danger, and showing characters in the worst situations of their lives, I’m able to walk my readers through a journey they will never forget.

The themes that emerge in those stories, hopefully, will imprint themselves on their hearts and souls, and make a difference in how they live their lives, how they deal with trials, how they see God’s provision in those perilous times. What can be more heroic than a character who has faith when all is falling apart, or one who trusts in a loving God when cruelty and danger are stalking him? What can be more profound than showing a character crushed by her own sin, learning of Christ’s redemption? What can be more noble than a character performing an act of kindness to an enemy or putting someone first at the risk of his own survival?

When Intervention, the first book in my Intervention Series, was released, my book signings were filled with family members of those caught in the bondage of drug addiction. Because these readers were able to relate to my character Barbara, a mom trying desperately to save her daughter from the consequences of her addictions, they came to me with tears in their eyes and shared their own disappointments and heartbreaks.

I was able to write that book and Vicious Cycle, the second book in the series, because of my own experiences with my daughter’s drug abuse. Because God allowed my family to endure that dark journey, I was able to authentically represent the heartbreak of those families, the inner struggle of the addict, and the hope God offers when things seem impossible.

I believe that everything happens for a purpose. And when I’m walking through the fire, I’m constantly looking up and asking God what I’m supposed to do with this pain. In so many cases, the answer He gives me is to pass the lessons on to my readers. Let them experience the journey through my characters so they’ll have light for their own journeys. Let them know there’s hope. Help them make sense of it. Show them where they can find Him in the midst of it.

So when my daughter was in rehab, and I met young women who'd been ravaged by drugs, and learned of all they'd lost and all they'd left behind because of their toxic thinking, I wondered what God wanted me to do with that knowledge. Jordan, a fifteen-year-old pregnant meth addict took shape in my mind, and the idea for Vicious Cycle was born. With this book I hope that, once again,

I’ll touch the lives of those whose families have been shattered by drugs, point them to the Savior who can cleanse them inside and out, and give hope to families who don’t know where to turn.

When I was plagued by questions about why God seems to allow some prayers to go unanswered, I wrote Dawn’s Light, in which a child is the victim of a violent crime, and her parents struggle with those same questions. When I felt the shallowness of materialism tainting my Christian walk, and experienced the despair of a culture that couldn’t be pleasing to God, I wondered what God might do to get our attention, and I wrote Last Light, in which there’s a worldwide power failure, and my modern-day family has to hunt for food, walk miles for water, and learn to share when doing so threatens their own survival.

Because I’d experienced the tragedy of a spouse’s walking out, I was able to write Private Justice, about a man bent on leaving his wife, until he realizes a serial killer has targeted her. He has to protect her despite the rift in their marriage, and he struggles with the impact his actions have had on his relationship with Christ. My hope was that I’d make Christian men and women think again about walking away from their marriages, and remind them that forsaking their spouses is a symptom of their forsaking their first love—Jesus Christ.

When I learned about God’s covenants and was convicted about my covenant responsibilities to Jesus, I wrote Word of Honor, about a lukewarm Christian who learns about that concept from an accused murderer. And as I grew proficient in using Facebook and Twitter, I became concerned about the vast amount of information people were putting out there for all to see, so I wrote Predator, about an online predator who uses social networks to find his victims. I prayed as I wrote it that God would use the book to make readers change their online habits. When God convicted me about the mask I wore as a “professional Christian,” I made that a subplot in the same book, as my character—whose sister was murdered—struggles with showing her true pain and disillusionment to the at-risk teens with whom she works.

I could go on and on, because every suspense novel I’ve written was born from some pressing issue that God had put on my heart, or it came from some deep wound that seemed to have no explanation at the time. But when the books are written and those letters arrive, I realize that God knew what He was doing when he focused my attention on those painful topics that He wanted me to address with my readers. Nothing He ever does is wasted. And nothing He calls us to do is wasted, either.

There will always be people who think that what I do is without merit, that it’s strictly entertainment, that it serves no purpose in the kingdom of God. That’s okay. Maybe they’re not the ones who need it. But God is always quick to show me the ones who do. And then he gives me another journey, another heartbreak, another purpose . . . and another book to write. And at the end of all of that, He gives me the joy of knowing that I’ve done what He’s given me to do, and that it’s made a difference in the lives of people He loves.

That’s good enough for me.


Vicious Cycle