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The Truth & Frequently Asked Questions

The Truth:
The simplicity of the Gospel is within the grasp of a four-year-old child; its implications confound the deepest thinkers.

May I invite you to consider the truths you see here . . .

We are all sinners.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

And the penalty for sinning is death.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ's death was part of God's great plan.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

God stands ready to save us.
Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

We cannot save ourselves.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

You can know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

You can have Jesus Christ as your personal Savior by acknowledging in your heart what God has done for you. If you would like to do that, pray the following simple prayer.

Dear God, I know I'm a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You sent Jesus to die for my sins. I accept Jesus as my Savior and invite Him into my heart and life. Amen.

Scripture quotations taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, COPYRIGHT © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1994, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


Frequently Asked Questions:

This section in made up of questions drawn from various interviews, and some of them overlap. You won't learn anything about writing, but you might get some insight into how things happen behind the scenes. As I write this, Wedgewood Grey is still at the publisher ... "book-specific" questions will be related to Abiding Darkness.

Your book's depiction of demonic thought and activity is often frightening. How have your readers reacted to the book's intensity?

I appreciate your comment about Abiding Darkness being frightening. When I started this project, I really wanted a fiction work that would steal its reader's sleep—and I got it. I frequently receive reports from people, men and women alike, who have found they can't read the book at night. Some readers say they won't read it when they're home alone, others tell me they can only read a page or two at a time, and a final handful talk about becoming so frightened they have to put it aside…all because they are scared of what might happen next. On the other side of that coin are the reports from people who've stayed up all night reading because they couldn't put the book down. The response has been more than gratifying.

Does the Bible's teaching on Satan and angels support what you've written?

The short answer to the question is: Yes. The longer answer is: I had to use normal conversation as their method of information exchange because I don't know how they communicate. Too, I attributed a more human-like response to both angels and demons in order to give the reader a reference point for their actions and emotions.

Do you believe demons are real and plotting the demise of humans?

My answer is "Yes" to both parts of the question.

A word search of the Bible reveals over three hundred verses that use the word "angel" or "demon" or their plural forms. Add Satan, and several dozen more verses come into play. The Bible is saturated with accounts of the activity of angels and demons.

I believe the Bible to be the inerrant written word of the only living God - and it tells me that angels and demons exist. So...are the angels and demons real? Most assuredly.

Are they plotting the demise of humans? The demonic realm's evil intent goes beyond what you and I can grasp. Within the bounds allowed by God, Satan and his demons are plotting the spiritual destruction of as many humans as possible. They know the Bible well, they know God is going to bring this present world to an end, and they know they're going to be cast into hell. Until that time, they will work unceasingly to destroy the lives of as many people as possible…turning them from an understanding of the real truth...committed to taking as many as they can to hell. They are God's enemies and ours.

In the meantime, we can hear the heart of a demon in a quote from Abiding Darkness. "...his solitary function - his duty, the reason he existed - was to broadcast pain."

Your book makes it seem as if there are angels and demons here on earth. What's your response to those who say all that exists in the world can be seen with the naked eye?

That question takes in a lot of territory. At first blush, I would say that if I were Satan, and if I wanted to be more effective, I would earnestly promote the belief that I did not exist.

That said, and with the understanding that having to see things to believe in them rules out any belief in God, I suppose I would introduce a question of how one can believe in the wind? Or heat? How about good and evil? Or the force of gravity? The answer? If our hearts are not buried in the sands of irrationality, you and I can see conclusive evidence of many things that are going to remain invisible.

How can a person know if he or she is under spiritual attack?

If there is a cut-and-dried answer to this question, it is beyond me. Our battle, as humans, is ongoing on three fronts - with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We're contending with the world and its pervading influence; our fleshly desires and the sinful side of our nature stand ready to wreak havoc in our lives; and the devil and his minions are constantly watching for us to drop our guard.

When it comes right down to it, I guess I'm less concerned with the origin of any given attack than I am with whether or not I'm thoroughly equipped to act in a godly fashion when it comes.

Have you ever fought with a demon or seen an angel?

I've never fought with a demon. As I understand it, demons can possess - control and influence - humans and animals, but they cannot become a visible form. Angels can take on human form, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that lots of folks have seen one.

Which of the villains in the book scares you the most?

To paraphrase an old Pogo Possum line, "I have met the enemy, an' he is me." To me, my scariest villain is John Aubrey Anderson. God tells me that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…but that's another subject for another day.

The villains in the book, the demon-controlled family - especially the woman - are mean people, but their potential for evil is yet to be fully explored...that will come in following books. The principle demon in Abiding Darkness - the one in the lake - is scary enough, but capturing how vile he really is may not be humanly possible. For me, it's frightening to look beyond the story and know that the day is coming when God is going to slip Satan's leash...and no writer's imagination can peek one level deep into the evil that will occur in those days...and that should scare us all.

Why did you choose to write in this particular time period?

It's almost as if the series started of its own accord. It chose the 1940s because it was such a special time…it picked the Mississippi Delta of the 1940s because it was a special place. The value system was different back then. People moved at a slower pace over shorter distances and information exchange was limited. The communities were smaller; the people were closer and more involved in each others lives. Also, the people of that day didn't have to be strange to be colorful.

Did you draw from personal experiences to write this novel?

Oh, yes. The adventures and exploits that made up my childhood would provoke the envy of Tom Sawyer, but sharing a small part of them would take more words than I used in the novel. Just think ideal…then add children, dogs, and energy.

The characters seem very real. Where did you pick up the voices for these people?

I grew up with the people in Abiding Darkness. Granted, some of the characters are compilations of people I've known—half of one person and part of another—but for the most part, all I had to do was just tweak them a little, maybe boost the octane in their blood a bit. As soon as I figured out who the characters were, the rest was easy…I let them use the voices they'd used all their lives.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Abiding Darkness is my first everything.

To those of you who are struggling to get published, I have to confess that I never experienced your trials. In the spring of 2003, I took three chapters and a synopsis to my first writers' conference. I told the editor with whom I wanted to make contact that I was looking to trim the odds against being published to 10,000 to 1.

He replied, "Well, it looks like you're sitting on about fifty-fifty."

That same editor changed publishers in 2005, and my books and I went with him.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

It's difficult to put my finger on the exact moment ... but if pressed, I'd have to say it became more than evident in January of 2006.

During that month I was trying to get my second book, Wedgewood Grey, off to FaithWords. Abiding Darkness was back in my hands for some jot and tittle stuff, and I was behind my self-imposed schedule on And If I Die. When I heard myself telling someone about having to juggle all three novels at the same time, it came to me that a million writers would cut off a finger to trade places with me. That's when I knew I was a writer.

As a footnote to that answer, let me offer this thought ... writers who are using their time well think more about writing than they do about being writers.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I can only see the world through my own eyes, but I try to keep myself out of the story, mainly because I'm not an interesting person. That means I have to listen closely so that I can hear what others see. Of course, my characters' personalities will always come from my mind, but they won't always align themselves with my grid.

There was a time when I would scoff at writers who claimed to let their characters make decisions about this or that. Well, I don't scoff any more. After the character becomes a person, I sometimes find myself waiting to see what he or she chooses to do next.

How do you choose your characters' names?

Good question ... with lots of answers.

I picture my characters in my mind as I'm writing ... sometimes I'll just call a new one "xxxxx" until the story develops around that individual; eventually, I'll see or hear a name that perfectly suits the person I've pictured. Quite often I'll use names that are a compilation of the names of our friends or relatives. And there's always the school yearbook or phone book.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Mostly I lean toward suspense/action/thriller/adventure things ... my preference is to get sucked into a compelling story and become immersed in tension.

I read quite a bit of non-fiction, mostly to enhance my knowledge of spiritual things, and my wife reads to me when we're riding in the car (which is often).

The one book I read every day is the Bible.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Having looked up quirky in the dictionary (eccentric, idiosyncratic, unconventional, unorthodox, unusual, strange, bizarre, peculiar, odd, outlandish, zany), I have to confess that I'm pretty much of a dud in the personality department. I'm utterly predictable, and I always have been. For instance, I'll almost always choose vanilla ice cream ... when I feel the urge to live on the edge, I'll get chocolate.

Now, don't let me mislead you ... I've done some stupid things in my life, but even when I was living the life of an idiot, I was still predictable—even if predictably stupid.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I think you can judge by what you read in my answer to the previous question that I cycle between feet-firmly-planted and stroll-and-look-at-the-view. I attribute my mostly Type-B temperament to a couple of things.

First ... I spent thirty-five years flying airplanes—six years for the Air Force and twenty-nine for a major airline. If aviation doesn't teach a person anything else, it'll teach him or her to do one thing at a time ... and to do the most important thing first. In aviation that always means "fly the airplane first." If I apply that fly-the-airplane-first principle to my life/schedule, I can avoid being victimized by The Tyranny of the Urgent.

Second ... one of my favorite scripture passages is Philippians 4:6,7. It says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I've watched different guys doing the run, run, run thing for a long time. None of them get to see enough sunsets with their wives. None of them take time to fully enjoy a relationship with The Creator of the universe. And not one of them has ended up where I want to be.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My wife and I have known each other since we were three years old; we went from kindergarten through high school together. If I have accomplished anything of worth, it was getting that first date with her when we were in college.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I'd be a yellow lab, but only if I could live in the Andersons' house. Labs are, for me, the best all-around breed. They're smart, anxious to please, and totally amiable.

We're animal lovers, and life in our house would be Heaven for anything with four legs. We've had some great dogs and cats, but we've decided not to have any more pets. We travel quite a bit now—going where pets can't go, and leaving them behind would be hard on them and us.

What is your favorite food?

My wife and I both enjoy going out with good friends and eating greasy hamburgers.

What would you like to tell us about Abiding Darkness?

People can sense hype, and I don't think Abiding Darkness needs it... but I have to be careful when I talk about it because I have yet to figure out a way to let anyone in on the specifics without ruining the story for them. What I can do is share with you some of what I've been told by the people who have read the book ... and I'll tell you some of my own thoughts ... in that way I might be able to give you a sense of what it's about without sharing details.

The most rewarding words I hear run along the lines of… "I was up all night because I couldn't put it down." Or, "Oh my gosh, I had to quit reading because I was at home by myself, and I was scared to death."

Abiding Darkness initially anchors itself in the relationship between two children.

Junior Washington is an eleven-year-old black child. He lives in a small cabin out on Cat Lake; his parents work for the Parker family. He's loyal, compliant beyond what would normally be expected of an eleven-year-old boy, and he's a committed Christian.

Missy Parker, who lives on the other side of the lake, is the crown princess of the Parker family. At seven years of age she's beautiful, wealthy, willful, and tough as a tractor tire. And, in the midst of the most defined segregation in our nation's recent history, this little white girl and Junior Washington are best friends.

Comparatively speaking, Abiding Darkness starts almost gently. The first sentence offers doubt, but the readers may not see any real trouble surface until a few sentences later, and that's mostly kid stuff, almost cute. From there through the second chapter they're given a little more to think about... because they get to imagine what might happen to the children... especially the girl.

At the end of the second chapter, if they're lucky—or intuitive—they'll take a deep breath… because they're going to need the oxygen.