Award-winning author Sandra Orchard has been writing stories since she was six. Her latest, Shades of Truth, follows detective Ethan Reed as he hunts down a drug ring.
What was your inspiration driving the story in Shades of Truth?

It was two-fold. This is the second novel in my Undercover Cops series. Each book in the series explores the effect of an undercover cop’s duplicity on his personal relationships and faith. Reading about an RCMP undercover operation and the “illegal” things the officers had to do inspired me to wonder what effect the job might have on a person’s moral compass.

For Shades of Truth in particular, the heroine’s occupation as a youth care worker at a Christian youth detention facility was inspired by a young woman from my church who shared her experiences working at such a place. I was enthralled by her passion for the youth, and her sincere insistence that she often learned far more from them than she was teaching them.

Over the course of writing it, what surprised you most during the journey?

I gained much more empathy for young people and the challenge of overcoming the situations that lead them to make lousy, life-altering decisions.

What parts were inspired by real-life (either research or experience)?
Oh, I could go on and on, because I always have bad guys trying to do me in, and heartthrobs tripping over themselves to go out with me. Okay, I’m just kidding.

In writing my heroine facing her father’s imminent death, I drew on the emotions I felt losing my parents. Returning money that was overpaid by the metal recycler was drawn from a family experience. But for the post part, I relied on research and my imagination. I drew on the experiences of the youth care worker I mentioned above. I also attended a Writer’s Police Academy where I did FATS (firearm simulation training), which enabled me to experience and better understand the range of emotions and thoughts that run through your mind when confronted with a criminal situation.

Why do you think story is such a powerful way to communicate truth?
Jesus used parables to communicate truth in powerful ways. Story engages our emotions and allows readers to better relate to the situations described, because they understand the thought processes motivating the characters. Seeing how the hero and heroine overcome obstacles and make decisions and emerge victorious, inspires hope and may even provide a role model (of a healthy relationship, for example) that the reader might not have in her own life.

What do you hope readers get out of your work?
I hope they’ll come to a deeper understanding that God is a God of both justice and compassion. Too many people let guilt control their lives as my hero did. I hope those who find themselves in that situation will seek forgiveness and forgive themselves.

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About The Author

Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada).