Book Launch Countdown! Where Did You Get the Idea?
My debut novel, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” is available this week and my launch party is Friday night, October 7th, 2011 from 6 to 8 P.M. at Brookwood Baptist Church (corner of I49 and Bert Kouns) in the Well, the coffee shop. I will be introducing the ink*well, a regional Christian artists’ community and speaking briefly on “One Book’s Journey: How to Get Published”. Those who purchase a book are entered into a drawing for one of the following: an Ipad2, a nook touch, and a Kindle WiFi. Coffee and snacks are complementary. Here is a pdf file of the flyer for the event: bruce-flyer
My first “What if?” question was this. What would happen to an assassin, a mercenary, a special forces individual if that person became a Christian? Could they continue in their job? How would they deal with the past? Would they be changed fundamentally or would they be compelled to continue to kill? I wasn’t sure of the answer, but the possibilities intrigued me. I filed that question and answer away for future consideration.
My second “What if?” question was this. If a person is a Christian and develops amnesia, would they still remember they are a Christian? Is the conversion experience so powerful, so complete it transcends memory loss? Or would the person “forget” they are a child of God? If they did, what does this mean, theologically? I filed that question and answer away for consideration.
Now, the third contributor to my story was not a question. It was a situation. Good ideas can come from real world situations. My church was sitting on the corner of a typical neighborhood intersection, buried away from the growing part of town in an area that was “transitioning” (whatever that means). My pastor, Mark Sutton, had felt called to our church for one reason: to move this vibrant, growing church a mile down the street to a major intersection where it would be easily accessible and very visible. However, the first and greatest obstacles were our own church members. About 25% of the membership did not want to leave the building. I was stunned. I had given money to expand this building, but it was not the church. The membership was the church. The building was just that, an inanimate object. But, some of our membership worshipped the building. It was like an idol, erected for the world to see and for some of us to worship. Their passion for staying in the building often exceeded their passion for winning others to Christ. The battle was long, brutal, and costly. But, in the end, my pastor’s vision and God’s will prevailed and we moved to the location God had first shown Mark on the day he drove through our region. And so, I wondered. What would happen if a building became an idol? What if the building was like a living, breathing creature that could be possessed by evil and thus become the beginning point for the downfall of good, unsuspecting church members? I filed that idea away for consideration.
The fourth factor in the book’s story was my growing interest in apologetics. One of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton, had written two of my favorite books, “Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park”. I loved how Crichton took science, history, and philosophy and built a compelling, fast paced story around the facts. It would be much later that I realized how “facts” could be perverted to fit a story in the best seller, “The Da Vinci Code”. Crichton did not pervert the facts. He let them serve as the power behind the plot. I wanted to do this with the science, the history, the philosophy, and the facts behind my growing knowledge base in the defense of the Christian faith. That is what “apologetics” was all about. Finding the truth in the Christian world view. But, how to do this? How could I write a book around the science and the history I had learned? I filed that idea away for consideration.
I did not know it, but the stage was set for my book. After completing the manuscript for “Conquering Depression” in June, 1999, I made a deliberate decision to take six weeks off and read. I had been hired by LifeWay to write for their online “Extra” publication and I had gotten seriously behind on my reading. A good writer is also an avid reader. So, I put aside any desire to write and made the decision that by the first of August, I would have chosen which one of my many novels in various stages of development would become my first novel to complete and submit for publication. It was time for my fiction!
As the weeks passed, nothing happened. I read a lot. But, every time I looked at my novels, I felt nothing. No spark of passion. No desire to finish the story. Cold, cruel indifference. Now, I was getting worried. After all, I had been working on “Conquering Depression” for nine months and now I was writing four articles a week so my writing was disciplined and well honed. If I didn’t start on something soon, I was worried I would lose the spark!
July 31st came and now I was desperate. I had no idea what I was going to start writing on the next day. And, then, I got it. I have done this so many times. I get a good idea. I pick it up and hold it up to God and say, “Hey, God! Look at this great idea I’ve had. I’m going to do this for you and you are going to bless it! Aren’t you lucky to have me?”
Seriously, have you ever done this? I have. Many times. And, every time, my efforts end in disaster. God has to wrench the “good idea” out of my hands so He can put His “God idea” in its place. Then He says to me, “Bruce, I want to invite you to participate in the work I am doing by accomplishing this one thing. And, when you accomplish this one thing that is ideally suited to your gifts, talents, and skills, then I will bless you.” And, the wrenching part? It hurts like, well, like “hell”! In fact, it is a taste of hell for hell is ultimately all about me!
That evening, as this realization dawned on me, I was terrified. For, I realized that “Conquering Depression” might be the only book I ever write. For someone who has written since he was 8, this was a terrifying possibility. Nevertheless, I swallowed nervously and prayed the most humble prayer I could muster. “God, forgive me for being so arrogant and proud. If the depression book is the only book I ever write for you, then I accept that. If I never write another book, I accept that. I want to do your will. I give my writing over to you completely. It is yours. Show me what I should do.” And, with tears in my eyes, I climbed into bed and slipped into a troubled sleep.
At 4 A. M. I awoke, sat bolt upright in the bed and realized the entire story of what would become “The 13th Demon” was in my head. It was there like a hurricane developing over the gulf, ill defined but recognizable. The pastor and his church possessed by an evil presence. The mysterious man with amnesia, bent on revenge as the pastor’s only hope. And, a community on the brink of disaster. It was all there. I started writing immediately and by noon had written sixteen chapters. It was the first of August, my deadline and by the 30th, I had completed the rough draft of “The 13th Demon”. God had answered my prayer with a story I had never contemplated; a genre I had never considered; and a book series that would occupy the next two decades of my life.
The title came later out of the blue just as some of the characters surfaced while I was free writing the story. During my research, amazing things happened that I could only call miraculous. But, it would prove almost impossible to sell the idea. For you see, in 1999 the world of Christian publishing was not ready for a Christian “thriller” or “science fiction” or “horror” novel. I was turned down by the best. And, every time the reason was not because of the poor quality of the writing. I was turned down because the story was too edgy, too violent, too harsh. I had one editor from a major Christian publisher tell me she loved the manuscript but that “No one in the CBA will ever publish your book.” She would prove to be right and it would be seven years before “The 13th Demon” appeared in public. That story I will talk about tomorrow!