WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE DARKNESS FOLLOWS?
This is a really weird story. My uncle, who is a major Civil War buff, gave me this journal, says he wrote it in his sleep over the course of a couple weeks. It reads like the diary of a Civil War soldier with accounts of Gettsyburg, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. Weirder thing is, there are things in the entries that he knew nothing of and actually had to research after the face. True story … and scary stuff, too, so realistic it gave me goosebumps reading it. So that gave me an idea. What if a man not only starting writing this stuff but became obsessed with it, and what if it began to lead him to do something hideous, something awful. That was the premise for the story. From that initial inspiration it grew into a love story of sorts showing the unconditional love a little girl has for her daddy who is about to do something very bad. Interestingly, much of the journal entries in the book were the entries my uncle wrote while he slept and had no memory of ever writing.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
The first Christian authors who inspired me and lit that flame of yearning to write were Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, and Kathryn Mackel. Their books gave me quite the education in how to write a gripping story. Now, I draw most of my inspiration from Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Koontz more than anybody else. His prose and storytelling ability are so spot on. I learn something from him every time I pick up one of his books. Also, Travis Thrasher inspires me for his work ethic and integrity. Eric Wilson for his boldness and honesty. Athol Dickson for his ability to weave beautiful, stirring prose.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
The two are inseparable. There’s been a lot said about fiction writers having agendas. As a Christian I have an agenda for everything I do to spread God’s love and live a life that glorifies Him. I can’t separate out my writing from the rest of my life. My faith is intertwined in all my stories. I take writing very seriously for a number of reasons. One, I know how hard writers work to get published. I don’t believe for one second that I’m better than every unpublished writer but for some reason God has given me this opportunity. Two, because I’ve been given this opportunity I want to make the most of it. God’s given me a megaphone to reach thousands of people. What am I going to do with it? That’s the question I ask myself every day.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I remember the exact moment I started writing. It was September 1998 (I was 26) and I turned to the written word as a way of dealing with a tragedy that had occurred in my family. It was like being born again. The freedom I felt, the release, it was incredible. From that day on I wanted to be published. I started writing fiction in 2004 and immediately fell in love with it. The power of story is incredible and addicting.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
The power of light over darkness, love over hate. I want them to enjoy a good story but more than that I want them to know that there is always hope no matter how dark their circumstances may get. In 2008 I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. I traveled that valley but I was never alone. At times the darkness overwhelmed me but in the midst of it all there was always light. That experience will never leave me and I want to share the hope I found, the freedom from fear, with others. My way of sharing it is through my stories.