Author Joshua Graham answers five questions about his supernatural thriller Terminus (Redhaven Books): Nikolai left his job as a Reaper — but what would make someone quit being an angel? Terminus tells the story of just how far an angel can fall — and who he’s willing to fall for.
Q. What inspired you to write Terminus?
I was reading a book by Max Lucado called Fearless, in which there was a very touching chapter about being free from the fear of dying. Somehow, Mr. Lucado put things into an eternal perspective which truly gives hope for those who believe in Christ, and the kingdom of Heaven. When we consider how much better a place we were ultimately made for, and that our time here is really quite temporary, it changes the way we see life, death, and everything that is to come.
Q. What are the challenges of writing “suspense” — danger, murder, mayhem — for a Christian author?
The challenges, of course, are that in order to keep a sense of those factors (danger, murder, mayhem) you must tap into that dark place which we all struggle against. I’m talking about sin. It was around since Cain killed Abel, and had its root in doubting God’s love and authority way back in the Garden of Eden. When I write these things, I try not to get too graphic not just because gratuitous violence is distasteful for me to read/write about, but because it loses its effectiveness when overdone. I remember watching an action movie where the first two car crashes/explosions were shocking. But by the time the sixth and seventh crashed and burned (all within three minutes), I began to yawn and feel my intelligence affronted. Suspense is all about not showing and not telling. The human imagination does a great job of filling in each personalized blank and crafting a very customized sense of thrills.
Q. How much do you worry about research and details versus just telling a riveting story?
I don’t worry at all about that. I just do it, where necessary. It’s fiction, yes, but I want to show some level of knowledge in the subject matter. On the other hand, I try not to let research, or anything for that matter, stop the flow of storytelling. Interestingly, research often becomes the inspiration for story.
Q. What authors or life experiences have influenced the kinds of fiction you write?
I’ve been influenced most profoundly by the Bible, C.S. Lewis, and the loss of several beloved family members and friends. Having stood by some of them, who had suffered from terminal diseases, held their hands until they passed, and mourned their loss, I can empathize with people who have done the same. All the more reason why finding an eternal hope in Christ is so important. Life makes no sense without that.
Q. In what specific ways does your faith impact how you write fiction?
The Bible is truly an inspired book, and its power to transform the human mind/heart are real. I’ve found many lessons and themes in it which have changed my life and even brought me to my calling as a writer. Think about how Jesus conveyed His messages about God, the Kingdom of Heaven, etc., He used stories with which everyday people could identify—parables—about farming, fishing, sewing, house cleaning, etc., to illustrate ideas of cosmic importance, and yet, they are so powerful because they resonate with the human experience. It is my hope in life, and goal, to do the same in my fiction writing. And the messages I wish to convey are those found in God’s word, and told through His Spirit.