Kathy Herman

Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the world of Christian literature, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association and eleven years at her family-owned Christian bookstore as product buyer/manager for the children’s department. She has conducted seminars on children’s books in the U.S. and Canada and served a preliminary judge for Gold Medallion Book Awards. Two of her fourteen published novels were CBA bestsellers.

Kathy and her husband Paul have three grown children, five adorable grandkids, a cat named Samantha—and an ongoing fascination with hummingbirds. They also enjoy world travel, deep sea fishing, stargazing, and bird watching and sometimes incorporate all these hobbies into one big adventure.

Motivated for Mayhem

What makes a straight-laced, never-rocks-the-boat, always-follows-the-rules gal like me want to write inspirational suspense novels? Two reasons: I find it boring to write anything predictable. And the suspense genre is the perfect arena for creating chaos that needs a biblical solution.

Characters who are oppressed on all sides must cope with stress, sorrow, and sin. And it’s through their choices that I seek to inspire and challenge the reader without being preachy.

I guess it’s not surprising that I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer who doesn’t follow an outline. Even my method of story writing is suspenseful. I love being surprised when my characters do something I didn’t plan and take the story in a better direction. Granted, not knowing what will happen next isn’t the ideal way to write a novel, but it is the most stimulating (albeit stressful when a deadline is looming).

I have to prepare a synopsis of the story before I write it because my publisher requires it. I choose the setting and a Scripture verse and come up with a bare bones suspense plot that will give me room to illustrate that truth. But as the story develops so do twists and turns I never anticipated. In fact, some of those “aha” moments my readers have experienced actually affected me the same way when I wrote them. Whether suspense takes the form of a breathtaking chase or a slow, agonizing wait, it’s the tension it creates that keeps the story interesting.

It’s gratifying for me to hear from readers that although they typically can’t finish a novel, they are devouring mine. Perhaps my books appeal to them because I, too, have trouble finishing many novels for the very reasons they cite—too predictable, too much detail, too slow a pace, unable to connect with the characters. I think that’s why I endeavor to write stories that are fast-paced and unpredictable, have engaging characters, and leave the reader with a scriptural truth to think about.

For example, The Real Enemy, my most recent book and the first in the Sophie Trace Trilogy, is based on Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NASB). My lead character, Brill Jessup, just became the first female police chief in Sophie Trace, Tennessee. She took the job to escape the past and refuses to forgive her deeply remorseful husband, Kurt, for a brief affair that ended eighteen months prior. She agrees to stay with him only for the sake of their nine-year-old daughter, Emily.

Shortly after she takes the new position, she’s thrown into a bizarre and baffling case in which seven people disappear without a trace within seven days. A number of townspeople allege that this is the fulfillment of a legend that claims the

spirits of the departed Cherokee live to wreak havoc on the descendants of the settlers who stole their land. The media has a field day with the folklore, and the suspense goes off the charts.

Meanwhile, emotional tension builds at home as Brill rebuffs every attempt Kurt makes to earn back her trust. He is committed to overcoming the very evil he’s caused by being thoughtful, gentle, and understanding, regardless of her caustic remarks. Brill finds his loving attitude infuriating, especially when she comes across as “the bad guy” to Emily, who just wants her parents together.

The Real Enemy has so many surprises I’ve lost count. The scenes jump back and forth between the Jessups, the confounded authorities, the relentless media, and the dazed community—all waiting for word on the missing seven. Inspiration and suspense vie for the headlines in the dramatic conclusion, which should leave the reader breathless—and the Jessups living the reality of Romans 12:21.

Writing suspense is a challenge, especially when murder and mayhem share the stage with inspiration. But the Bible has a lot to say about stress, sorrow, and sin. And my goal is to create an entertaining story with engaging characters that can make that truth potentially life changing for the reader.

I’m not sure whether I chose the suspense genre or it chose me. But my readers want me to keep the stories coming. As long as good and evil are at odds, there will be countless ways to craft God-honoring suspense novels that inspire, challenge, and entertain.

The Real Enemy