Everyone was Left Behind Q+A
A mystery is a departure from your previous works. What prompted you to write a mystery?
I’ve always enjoyed mysteries. I grew up reading the Hardy Boys and watched my fair share of Law and Order. Even though I never seek Law and Order out, if I’m flipping through the channels, I might get hooked onto the story. My favorite mystery TV show was Cold Case – something about these long dead cases getting solved really resonated with me. Also, I loved shows like the X-Files, which blended supernatural elements with a FBI procedural kind of show. Then I got hooked on “48 Hours” and “Dateline”, until pretty much every episode became about some husband or boyfriend killing their wife or girlfriend – it got a little repetitive after awhile.
In your first mystery, you chose a Pastor to be the murder victim – why?
Even though the overall respect that Pastors receive in American culture has waned a bit over the years, there is still something shocking about a clergy member being killed. Besides, I really liked the backdrop of the failed rapture prediction for the story. I’ve always been struck by these kinds of predictions and their aftermath, so I thought that would work well for a setting.
You’re a Pastor – has anyone wanted to kill you?
Not that I’m aware of. Overall, my church is pretty chill and we don’t have the kind of heated conflicts that are a regular occurrence in some churches. Not that I haven’t had my critics over the years, because I have. And I have had some interesting run-ins with some people who came off the street looking for money. One was a veteran, who while we walked down to the local pizza shop to get him a slice, confessed he sometimes imagined doing sick things to people. There was also a rather, large woman who called down a curse on me and my church when I told her we couldn’t help her. Nothing came of either episode, though.
The Pastor in the book mistakenly predicts that Jesus would return on a certain date, which just so happens to be the day he’s killed. What’s your experience with failed rapture predictions?
There was a pretty well known prediction back in 1988, when I was just a kid. I definitely knew people from my church and from other churches who got really excited about it. My parents didn’t believe it, though my dad drafted a letter to leave in our house explaining what happened if we were gone, just in case.
How do you think non-Christians view rapture fever and failed rapture predictions?
I think it makes Chistians look kind of foolish. Honestly, just simply believing that Jesus will return in bodily form is a pretty bold hope. If we just believed in heaven or the after life, we’d be similar to a lot of different people who aren’t Christians. Then, when we put a date on it and we’re wrong, it makes us look even sillier to outsiders.
Why do you think people make these predictions? And why are Christians so quick to believe them?
Well, after so many predictions have failed, you’d think that would put a damper on making another one. But people are pretty arrogant. So many believe that they have the missing clue or have found the hidden secret – something that two thousand years of Christians have missed. A lot of the predictions have come from Christians who aren’t as enmeshed in organized churches. They’re not necessarily on the fringe, but people who are very independent in their faith and thinking and believe their interpretation of scripture is best, even when it departs from what the community of faith has believed for centuries.
Again, you feature a main character who isn’t a Christian and has some pretty strong doubts/criticisms about Christianity. Why is that?
I really enjoy the interplay between characters of faith and characters without faith. What we believe about God and life is so essential to who we are, and when you watch characters with sharp distinctions in how they think interact, it helps paint the picture of who they are.
Not to play spoiler here, but the book ends with some unresolved questions – is there a sequel coming?
Yes and soon. The rough draft is done and I’m in the editing/revision process. Hopefully by the end of October and early November, I can publish it. In fact, there will be two more books in this series, which I’m now calling Strange Gravities; the third installment – Death Prophets – should debut around April.
Has the process of writing gotten easier now that you’re on your third book?
A little bit. I’ve learned a lot as I’ve gotten feedback from different people about my writing. I’ve also rooted out some common grammatical/writing mistakes I was making, which does make revision a bit easier. But the continuing challenge is getting my work in front of people. There are just so many books on Amazon, it’s hard to get noticed. And I still hate doing self-promotion, even if I have no choice but to do it.