Who are these selfless ministers
of the Gospel?
These shepherds of the flocks?
The men (and even women!) who toil 24-7, 365 to somehow prepare
their congregations to become what the Creator wants them to become?
(Of course, not everyone reading this blogpost is presently under the care and supervision of a/some pastor(s) even though it is hoped that someday very soon you will be!).
But that is no longer the case.
PG is now a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. And this is a very, very good thing!
So just how did a minister of the Gospel, a shepherd of the flock, become such an accomplished writer?
(Guess you already figured out what was coming next, huh?)
What do you think is the genesis of The Rise of the Champion series?
This is an easy question to answer. The truth is that Rise started as a month-long series of dreams I had. I had been working on a series of lessons on spiritual warfare. When I went to bed that night, I found myself living Tal's life. Sounds crazy, I know, but while I wasn't Tal, I was present for everything he was going through. Ultimately, I think the dream was God's way of showing me another way to teach on the principles of spiritual warfare that every Christian needs to know in these troubling times ... a way that slips past our inability to focus for long on a lesson. Through Tal, we aren't told about spiritual warfare; we see it lived out where the "sandals meet the dirt", so to speak.
Why are you releasing this as a series instead of as a novel?
To be honest, I decided to release Rise as a serial because of my mother-in-law. She has been proofreading for me since my first attempt at a book. When I would give her a completed chapter of Rise, she would be asking for the next chapter before I was finished with it. After eleven chapters, she was like "Make this a book now!" However, it didn't have enough words to make it a novel, but several people that asked me about it have been pushing me to get it out there. After reading about serials, I thought "Why not?" This way I can get it out before the story is finished, plus it helps push me to finish this story.
In reference to Tal, the main character of the series, who should he remind me of? In fiction or in history?
I'm not sure he should remind you of anyone. I guess there are some similarities to a younger David, or several of the prophets in Scripture. I personally hope he will remind most people of the part of themselves that wants to get closer to God and know what His plan for their life is.
Is our present-day world a place where someone can be like Tal, fervently desiring to find "truth" midst the relativism that surrounds us?
I would have to say "Yes." There was a time when I myself was like Tal, questioning what I had been taught, looking for a way to grow closer to God, wanting to make a difference for the kingdom of heaven. So, since I have had experiences that have done that for me, I know that others can do the same even in today's world.
What have you categorized the series as? What genre, specifically? For example, how is it categorized via amazon.com?
Officially, it is categorized as Christian fantasy. Personally I've been describing it as a Christian urban fantasy with allegorical tendencies.
How are you balancing your job as a hard-working minister of the Gospel with that as a fantasy fiction writer?
To be honest, I see them as one and the same. One of my favorite historical figures is Saint Francis of Assisi. He had this saying that is kind of my motto in life: "Preach always ... use words if necessary." So, to me, writing whether fiction or a new teaching book is just that: sharing the Gospel in creative ways. So I write at my office in the church when I have nothing else going on. However it does, at times, get hectic. I'll have Tal or another of my characters dancing with my muse and in will walk someone needing to be counseled. I do what God puts in front of me and trust that he will arrange time for me to minister in person and time to minister through writing. So far it's worked for me.
You have also published a novel about The Old West and are working on its sequel. How are you balancing your writing efforts between the two genres?
That I leave up to my muse. I write when the characters decide to speak to me. After eleven chapters, Tal seemed to step back in my mind's ear and give another character a chance to speak to me. That was Nathan from my Redemption Tales series. Nathan shouted his first tale and most of his second before sharing the spotlight with Tal again. Now it's gotten to where I can say "Ok Tal, tell me what's happening in your life," and he will come whisper his tale to me. The same is true of Nathan. To be honest. it isn't that hard because even though the genres are different, the desire of both characters is the same: to follow where God is leading them and fulfill His call in their life. To me switching between the two is easy because they both exist equally in my mind's eye.
In general, tell me about your writing past, i.e. what other things you have written/published.
I've always been a story-teller. It runs in my family. We used to sit around spinning tall tales about the family and everyone was encouraged to get involved. But officially I didn't start writing until 2011 when I was having an online conversation with a fellow pastor about the advantages of prayer-walking your community to see spiritual breakthrough. The pastor asked me to send him an email with the information we'd discussed in it. As I was doing so, I realized this was more than an email: it had book potential. So over Thanksgiving week of 2011, I sat down and wrote what eventually became "Prayer Walking for Spiritual Breakthrough". After that, I wrote a booklet on the armor of God and then started having the dream that has become "Rise of the Champion". Then a bunch of ideas started cropping up. I now have Rise in the works and my Western series which has about five or six stories to be told. Then there's an end-times political thriller waiting in the wings. Right now I have four books published:
"Redeeming Reputation" (book one of the Redemption Tales)
If someone wanted to take either your Redeeming novel(s) or your Rise series and turn it into a movie, which one would you prefer they produce?
What a loaded question! That's like asking a parent: which of your two daughters do you want to be the next Miss America? How can I choose between them? Honestly I would have to say, as a movie, I would rather see the western. But if someone wanted to offer me a TV series of a mini-series of "Rise of the Champion," I would say "Yes!" in a heart beat.
Tell me about your writing routine, including this thing called "word-warring."
My writing routine is harried. I try to write a minimum of four hours a day, but most days I don't make it. I write when life doesn't intrude. When there is no one else at the church looking to speak to a pastor, I'm sequestered in my office adding words to one manuscript or another. When I get home, I grab Pepsi and some snacks for dinner and settle into my lazy boy, kick up my feet, trap my laptop and write ... most nights, until ten or eleven. Then I try to read an hour or two and hit the sack. Another great tool in my writing arsenal is word wars with my online writing partners. There are several of us on a Facebook group who challenge each other to writing contests. We write for half an hour or for even an hour to see who gets the most words. We call this "word wars". It helps all of us generate a higher word count for the day.
You've been communicating with other writers via Facebook for quite awhile; what do you like about Facebook as a tool for communication?
I like the fact that we can connect to like-minded writers from all over the planet. I have writing partners and friends as close as down the street or as far away as Austria and Japan. But we can share things instantly and encourage one another in realtime using FB messenger or even our writing groups. I love the fact that the Internet and Facebook have made our global community smaller and more accessible.
Thanks, PG, for taking part in this interview! It was a blast! Woot!