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
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?
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
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,
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.
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.
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.