As a constitutional lawyer who serves as Special Counsel to the American Center for Law & Justice, Craig Parshall has a unique background that sparks ideas for his fiction. In his latest thriller, The Empowered (Tyndale House), disbarred criminal defense lawyer Trevor Black chases a deadly voodoo sect from Washington to New Orleans—and uncovers more than he bargained for. In this exclusive Q&A, Craig discusses the complex life of his main character, why he chose to include child trafficking in the story, and how his faith translates to his fiction.
Would you tell us a little about the character Trevor Black and what inspired the series that features him?
In The Occupied, Trevor Black assumes at first that he has left his youthful dance with evil far behind as he becomes a successful New York City criminal defense attorney. But when disaster strikes and he loses his marriage, his law license, and his professional reputation, he takes a spiritual step of faith that ends up granting him a unique but burdensome gift—the ability to see into the demonic realm. Trevor eventually embraces his new spiritual mission, but at the same time must reconcile that calling with several complicated relationships in his life.
In The Empowered, Trevor is “all in” on the spiritual mission part, but as he exposes the deeds of darkness as Ephesians 5:6 says, he learns that the immense power of his enemy may even endanger his own family. Abraham Lincoln famously said in his Gettysburg Address that America was engaged in “a great civil war.” The Trevor Black series expresses my conviction that we are engaged in a great spiritual war between the Kingdom of Light and an Empire of Darkness.
How has your background as an attorney been helpful as you have written the Trevor Black novels?
As a trial lawyer I was always exposed to human tragedy and evil after the fact: after the crime, after the violation of rights, after the catastrophe. All of those things are evidence of a fallen world, of course. But in this series I have the joy of using Trevor Black’s prior lawyerly skills coupled with his unique spiritual gifting to thwart evil even before it reaches fruition.
In The Empowered, we find Trevor coming up against the dark world of child trafficking. Why did you decide to write about that topic?
I have had some experience with child exploitation in my legal work, and served on the board of a wonderful organization that fights against internet dangers to families and children, so I was familiar with those issues. But in The Empowered, I wanted to give a real-life portrayal of what spiritual warfare would look like when a follower of Christ takes seriously the directive in Isaiah to “loosen the bonds of wickedness” and to “let the oppressed go free.”
How does your faith in Jesus inform your writing, particularly when dealing with heavy, real-world topics like this?
The wonderful thing about writing suspense fiction from a Christian worldview is that no matter how dire the situation becomes from a worldly perspective, there is an equally real spiritual solution. Jesus used practical, relatable parables to teach eternal lessons. In my novels I give a realistic, three-dimensional view of evil, but I also tried to give a true, encouraging portrait of the resurrection power of Christ that is available to every believer.
What do you hope readers will take away from The Empowered?
The power of evil, the troubles of the world, and our own personal weaknesses can be pretty overbearing. It’s easy to feel overpowered, and defeated, especially when our enemy leaves such an impressive trail of devastation. My hope in writing The Empowered is that by the end, every reader will understand where the real source of true, victorious power comes from, and how to connect with it.
Can you give us a hint about what you are working on next?
I was honored to contribute a chapter in a nonfiction book alongside some stellar Bible scholars on the topic of Israel. My contribution was to make the legal case for the existence of that tiny but profoundly significant nation, and that book will be released later in 2018, sometime after the release of The Empowered.
On the fiction side, I am considering other Trevor Black novels, assuming that Trevor has more stories to tell, more journeys to take, and more lessons to learn about spiritual warfare.
And I am also considering another hero for another book, who, like Trevor, has been bruised by life, but still remains unbroken.