Interview with Jerry Jenkins, Christian Author

Jerry Jenkins | Proven Writing Tips from a New York Times Bestseller

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Jerry Jenkins: “I had done a magazine story on a dynamic young evangelist. Though he was only 25 and I was 23, I felt he was worthy of an as-told-to-autobiography. Sammy Tippit: God’s Love In Action became my first book. He and I are now both in our 70’s and that book is still in print (in its fourth iteration, called Unashamed: A Memoir of Dangerous Faith). And I have served on Sammy’s board for decades. He remains my spiritual hero.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

JJ: “Being an evangelical Christian, my worldview is hope, and that should come through in everything I write.”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

JJ “Making what the uninitiated feel is religious nonpreachy and accessible. To me, religion is man’s attempt to reach God. Jesus is God’s attempt to reach man.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

JJ: “Realism, believable characters. Credible skeptical characters. Not everyone comes to faith and many raise demanding questions that must be faced.”

 BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”

JJ: “The writing itself. It’s gotten better and better, but there’s always room for improvement.”

 BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”

JJ: “The writing itself will never be collaborative for me. If two people are collaborating on a book, only one should do the actual writing. The other can be a resource, an idea person, an editor, but not the writer.”

 BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

JJ: “More grit and realism. More believability.”

 BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

JJ: “It varies. Some of the best, most encouraging editors I’ve worked with have been general market New York editors, but there are great ones in the Inspirational market as well.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

JJ: “I’m about to deliver Dead Sea Conspiracy to the publisher for a ’22 release. It’s a sequel to Dead Sea Rising, the story of an archaeologist. Then I’ll write The Chosen Book 2; Title to be determined. I’m novelizing each season of my son Dallas’s creation, The Chosen TV series. Book 2 will release in late ’21 or ’22.”

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Mr. Jenkins, we appreciate your feedback and look forward to reading your upcoming releases!

Interview With Jaime Jo Wright, Christian Author

The Writers Alley: Interview with Author Jaime Jo Wright {VIDEO + ...

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Jaime Jo Wright: “I’ve always harbored a deep love of story. When I was little, my first read that completely captivated me—I still vividly recall the feeling—was Dick and Jane. It was an old, hardback copy and seeing Dick run was riveting. It sounds silly, but as a four-year-old, those words made such a lasting impression on me. Movement was encapsulated on the page and became a story that breathed life into my imagination. From there, I devoured books until I was introduced to authors like Janette Oke, Tracie Peterson, Michael Phillips, and then I saw that not only were stories a reflection of life, but they could also reflect our Spiritual walk. The marriage of story and relationship with God became a passion of mine by the time was an early teenager.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

JW: “Wow. What a great question! My underlying philosophy of writing is to write stories that can influence hope in Jesus, but also in a way that will touch the heart of someone who may not be familiar with faith. My passion is to show the reality of hope in real-to-life people—in broken people—and in circumstances that are less than ideal. I want Jesus to be real in the broken places, and even though the broken places may remain dark, there is hope. Hope is the driving force of each and every one of my stories. What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book? For me it’s finding the balance between writing solid thematic messages without being overtly evangelistic in my approach. There is a place for that approach in fiction, for sure, but I’ve felt led to write stories that come alongside and walk with the reader rather than a more bold, outright message. Because of that, trying to show faith and hope in action while not watering down the Gospel into a non-existent message, can be very challenging. It’s a balance between wanting to inspire the faith-driven reader, while not wanting to drive away the reader who may be exploring Christian fiction for the very first time.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

JW: “Diversity. Hands down, diversity. We need more authors from varying backgrounds, because we can’t all reach all cultures. I would write a very poor representation of an African American or Asian heroine as compared to an author coming from that specific background. And those stories need to be told so those who love to read and who want to grow in their faith, can do so under the representation of characters they can relate to. In this need for diversity, I also believe we need to diversify the characteristics and backgrounds of our characters. It’s time we realize humanities’ flaws aren’t something to be hidden, but embraced, challenged, and even confronted.”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

JW: “I think Christian books could afford to be less concerned about portraying a “separate from the world” hero or heroine. This tends to set them so apart that the only readers who can relate, or even want to relate, are Christians themselves. While this is good in some respects, it can ostracize non-believing readers as they see characters being caught up in trivial issues like drinking wine or using a slightly off-colored word. Instead, I’d like to see humanity represented as humanity truly is. We’re imperfect, searching people. Whether drinking wine or dropping a cuss word is or isn’t allowable, to me, isn’t so much the issue as the character’s journey toward faith and toward a relationship with Christ. When we vet all Christian fiction to be “clean” and “separate”, we can run the risk of vetting out reality. It’s a fine line, I realize. I would never argue that overt sexual material or dropping four-letter words are necessary to reach the non-believing reader. But I would argue, that sugar-coating our characters can make them very unrelatable in a world where very little is sugar coated any more.”

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

JW: “Oh, I definitely feel Christian novel writing is a community effort. There is a distinct, warm atmosphere among Christian authors where we support and back one another. It’s less competitive and more “how can I help”. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the collaborative efforts of established Christian authors nudging me, mentoring me, and helping me along.”

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?

JW: “I see an upswing in Christian books attempting to reach a broader readership. While I feel there is still plenty of room for growth, I’ve been thrilled to read authors like Kara Isaac, Rachel McMillan, Natalie Walters, and Joanna Davidson Politano who aren’t afraid to tackle deep topics, relatable characters, and create clean reads without incorporating sermons and soapboxes.

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

JW: “I honestly haven’t worked for ‘secular’ publishing companies, so I would have to defer on this question.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

JW: “My upcoming novel, releasing in Spring 2021, will be the first novel where I touch on the Civil War, and also the first novel to incorporate a treasure hunt. It was so fun to write and so eye-opening to research the Civil War and how far north the Confederacy actually reached. But that’s all I’ll say for now.”

Thank you for your time and input Ms. Wright! We look forward to reading and reviewing your upcoming novel when it is released!

Interview with Susie Finkbeiner, Christian Author

Susie Finkbeiner – Living the Story

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Susie Finkbeiner: “Honestly, it was never my intention to write books specifically for the Christian market. I just wanted to write stories. My world view as a Christian just became part of the novel. As with anything in my life, I’m hard pressed to divorce who I am in Christ from what I do.”
 
BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

SF: “I guess it all comes down to writing the very best story of hope that I can manage. Everything else — the plot, characters, themes — come together out of that.”
 
BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

SF: “From my experience, it’s hard to write a book for a Christian readership that avoids being preachy. But it’s so important that we, as writers, produce a story in which the art isn’t drowned out by a message. A sunset speaks to the glory of God without a big sign that declares,
“GOD MADE THIS AND HE IS SO GREAT FOR SHARING HIS BEAUTY WITH
US!”. The sunset is message enough. It’s the same for books that are written from a Christian worldview (as well as movies, fine art, etc.). The art is message enough on its own.”

 
BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?

SF: “You know, I would love to see more character driven novels on the shelves of the Christian bookstore. The past few years have brought a few, but I’d love even more!”
 

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

SF: “We need to make room at the table for authors of color. These writers have much to say, incredible talent, and hearts for Jesus. It’s well past time for their stories to be shared!”
 
BOR: How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

SF: “I don’t know a single writer who thrives in the ‘lone ranger’
mode of writing. We all need community in order to create our best work. I’ve been so fortunate to have many friends in all different aspects of the publishing world and I’ve worked with some incredible people. When we go at it together we have support, lots of fun, and can share in the good work God has for us to do.”

 
BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

SF: “When I started writing novels I was often disheartened when I visited the fiction section of Christian bookstores. It seemed that most of the books on the shelf were romance. That’s not to say that the romance genre is bad, its just isn’t what I choose to write. Back then I worried that there wouldn’t be a place in Inspirational fiction for me either as a writer or reader. Now I see much more diversity of genre when I peruse the shelves. This
is exciting!”

 
BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

SF: “I can’t say from personal experience. However, I have
friends who have worked in both Christian and General Market houses and have had fantastic experiences in both. I’ve not heard a horror story from either side of the coin, which is great! I think that publishing houses are peopled by those who love good books and are enthusiastic about helping authors grow as writers.”

 
BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

SF: “I have a novel releasing next year that I’m very excited about. It revolves around the events after the Vietnam War, particularly the adoption of 3,000 Vietnamese children by American, Canadian, and Australian families.”

Thank you for your input Mrs. Finkbeiner! We look forward to reading you new novel when it releases!

Interview with Bryan Litfin, Christian Author

Bryan Litfin

Box Office Revolution: What inspired you to first write Christian books?

Bryan Litfin: “I think a lot of my fellow writers will understand what I mean when I say, ‘I couldn’t help but write.’ It’s not like I woke up one day and decided to do it. There was no single aha! moment. As a writer, you find you have a fire in your belly and it inevitably moves you to action. It’s like a woman who is pregnant: she can’t help but give birth, because that baby is in there and it has to get out! Books are like a writer’s babies—they demand to be born. My move into formal Christian publishing began with my non-fiction books about the ancient church. This is my area of academic expertise, and I wanted to share this important part of church history with everyday Christians. Writing fiction was the natural next step for me. Why not tell a story that illuminates the historical period that I know so
well? I find the era of the ancient church fascinating, and I believe others will, too. I wrote The Conqueror to show some of the exciting plot-lines that could arise in this momentous historical period.”
 

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?

BL: “For me, the most important principle of my writing is to write in such a way that God is glorified. As a Christian writer, that is my first and foremost aim. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t sometimes depict evil or ungodly things. I have to show sin in order to show how God triumphs over it. Yet the overall purpose of my writing (unlike a secular author) is to honor God and convey themes that will elevate His name and advance the Christian worldview. Second, my goal in fiction writing is to entertain the reader with great stories. That is why I prioritize ‘storytelling’ over ‘writing.’ Sometimes, you encounter writers who are in love with their own prose, and you can tell by how often they use fancy language. They seem to care more about their own literary prowess than getting their readers engrossed in a great tale. While I do want, of course, to use good English, my goal isn’t to win literary prizes. I try to write scenes that are straightforward, vivid, and
easy to imagine. I favor verbal clarity over verbal cleverness. (That probably comes from the teacher in me.) My goal isn’t for a reader to say, “Wow, what an elegant paragraph Litfin just wrote,” but rather, “Gosh, I can’t put this book down!” Forget about me; forget about your surroundings. Just get lost in the story.

BOR: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?

BL: “The hardest thing for a Christian book to achieve is to be pious without being pious. What? Here’s what I mean. The good connotations of ‘pious’ are to be upright, clean, mature, and God-honoring. That should be a main goal in a Christian book. The negative connotations of ‘pious’ include things like legalism, hypocrisy, super-spirituality, and a holier-than-thou attitude. Obviously, you want to avoid those things in a novel. The trick is to create narratives that convey themes which honor the Lord and depict his grace and truth, yet don’t come across as preachy or fake. It’s a fine line to walk as an author. If you fall off on either side, you become cheesy, trite, pedantic, or bossy. Nobody wants to read a book like that! Unfortunately, because of these difficulties, too many Christian authors avoid deep theology and spirituality altogether. At best, they might include some vague “God-talk.” But I think a good Christian novel should truly engage with matters of the soul.”

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?

BL: “Today’s Christian fiction landscape is divided into very fixed categories. Readers know what they like, and they buy it again and again. Only rarely do they branch out. This means that publishers are nervous about saying yes to stories that are different. I’d like to see them offer more novels that break the mold and become memorable as something other than just the latest entry in Christian genre fiction. The trick is getting people to buy those boundary-stretching books. In today’s competitive marketplace,
publishers are reluctant to take risks (which is understandable, because it’s real money they are risking). So, it’s up to the readers to buy novels outside their normal reading area and show the publishers that there’s a market for innovative new titles!”

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

BL: “Older Christian books from a few decades ago were more ‘meaty’ when it came to the Scriptures. They really dug into the Word and expected readers to track along and engage at a deep level. Now, the common wisdom is, ‘Today’s readers don’t want so much Bible.’ However, I don’t think that’s true. People just want it to be done well. They obviously don’t want to be blasted with a Bible verse shotgun or have the author drag them into theological minutiae. Instead, they want a skillful writer to exemplify wisdom and show them the meaning of God’s Word. Christian books, ironically, need more Bible in them. The Scriptures are inspired and inerrant, and they can transform lives by the power of the Spirit. We need more of that! (By the way, this same principle applies to today’s churches and preaching, too.)”
 

BOR: How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?
BL: “People often imagine an author as someone like Ernest Hemingway: a solitary hermit plunking away at his little black typewriter in an exotic location. Then, after much laborious wordsmithing, the almost-divine writer submits his nearly-perfect manuscript to the publishing house. All the publisher has to do is slap two pretty covers on it, and off
the book goes to become a bestseller. Nothing could be further from the truth! An author is only as good as his or her editor. Both of them must have a working relationship built on trust and mutual respect. The writer and editor should not view each other as adversaries. The editor isn’t trying to hack away at the author’s sublime manuscript like a devious piranha biting away chunks of living flesh. Rather, the editor is a skilled artisan who wants the same thing as the author: to produce the best possible
book for public consumption. We should think of a book manuscript in medical terms instead of adversarial ones. Sometimes the best thing for the human body is an excision, or maybe even an amputation—not enjoyable, but healthy in the long run! So too, manuscripts need good doctoring so they can achieve maximum vim and vigor. Beyond the author/editor relationship, a writer today also needs to trust the team of marketing and sales people who know how to get the book in front of buyers, readers,
and media influencers. I have been thoroughly impressed with the editorial and marketing folks that I have been working with at Revell for The Conqueror. I feel like a partner in a shared project—certainly not a lone ranger!”
 

BOR: How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?
BL: “In general, Christian writers today are less insulated from secular publishers. It used to be that Christian publishing was a separate fish tank with its own unique ecosystem, very distinct from the life and currents of the ocean. And because of that isolation, its water tended to stagnate.
Today, however, the waters are thoroughly intermingled. In fact, the big New York publishing houses now own many Christian houses as a subsidiary unit. This has raised the quality of the product because the bar of expectation is set higher. Christian writers have benefited from learning the craft of their secular counterparts. Christian publishing houses have learned the best practices in design, sales, marketing, and profitable business models. Today’s Christian books no longer emerge from a cheesy and insulated religious subculture. They are products that can stand on their own two feet alongside the best of what the secular world offers.

BOR: Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?
BL: “I can see pros and cons of each. Working with secular companies could open up doors for an author’s writing to reach more people, including many unbelievers. As for me, I like working with Christian companies because I consider my writing as a ministry, not a business venture. I like partnering with organizations whose goal is to advance the gospel or to send good Christian content into the church and the world. However, the truth is, the lines are often blurred between secular and Christian companies. More often that not, a Christian bookseller these days is owned by a secular
publishing corporation.

 

BOR: What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?
BL: “Definitely! I have some great things in store for the Constantine’s Empire trilogy. The three novels will span about eighteen years. The first book, The Conqueror, takes place in the early fourth century AD, which was a pivotal period in church history. So many important events happened in that time frame as Emperor Constantine came to power in the Roman Empire and put an end to Christian persecution. The first book tells the story of a young, strong Germanic warrior who joins the Roman army as a special forces operative under Constantine and is sent ahead to Rome to
spy on a false emperor. There he meets the Christian daughter of a senator, and they work together to help Constantine defeat his wicked enemy. The novel climaxes at the famous Battle of the Milvian Bridge, where Constantine fought in the power of the Cross instead of by Jupiter and the gods. These two central characters continue the saga into the second and third books. The plot events include more great battles by land and sea; the establishment of the canon of Scripture; the underground worship of the catacombs; the founding of St. Peter’s Basilica; the search for the ancient bones of St. Peter; the Council of Nicaea and the formulation of the Nicene Creed which describes the Trinity; and the discovery of the True Cross and the Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem by Empress Helena. I hope my readers enjoy the adventure!”

BOR: Thank you for your time Bryan! We greatly appreciate your openness and honesty in answering our questions and look forward to reading and reviewing your new novel!

Interview With Sean Paul Murphy, Screenwriter

Image result for sean paul murphy

Box Office Revolution: What inspired you to first get into making Christian entertainment?

Sean Paul Murphy: I don’t know if anything inspired me to get into making Christian entertainment. I just wanted to tell stories that resonated with me. Since I was a Christian, the stories I told often reflected my values and faith. I was writing so called faith-based films before it became an established genre in Hollywood.

I find it interesting that you call it Christian entertainment. Years ago, most of people would have shied away from that term. People would say that they were making films to reach people for the Lord, not entertain Christians.

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of movie making?

SPM: My underlying philosophy is to tell a good story well.

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian entertainment?

SPM: Since practically everyone who watches Christian films are already Christians, I would say we should make films that meet the needs of the church, and about challenges in the Christian walk, rather than just continually retelling the sinner comes to Christ story. I deal with this issue in a long post on my blog called Building the Faith-based Ghetto.

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved in Christian entertainment as a whole?

SPM: I think we desperately need to increase the level of professionalism. This hasn’t happened as a whole in the independent Christian film business because our consumers value the message over artistic quality. They would quickly have both if they stopped supporting bad films. And I’m speaking as a guy who realizes that all of his films are flawed in one way or another. I’m not just pointing a finger at others.

BOR: How do you feel about Christian entertainment creation being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

SPM: The Christian film business is cursed with far too many one-man bands.  No one person is equally gifted in writing, producing, directing and acting, and a film will only rise to the level of the weakest of those skills. Also, I tend to be suspicious of people who say “they’re doing it for the Lord” when they feel the need to write, produce, direct and star in their own films. If you’re doing it for the Lord, you would seek the most skilled and experienced people available for every job on the film. Personally, I prefer to be the dumbest person on the shoot. I want to be surrounded by people more experienced than me so that I can learn.

BOR: How has Christian entertainment improved during the time you’ve been involved in it?

SPM: The theatrical releases, like those from Affirm, are getting better every year. I liked “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” and “I Can Only Imagine.” They were both a step forward. However, technically, they were still only on the level of cable movies. We are not competing one on one with even the average Hollywood product yet. And it’s not just budget. I think the difference is that the average Hollywood filmmaker is more devoted to the craft of filmmaking. Christian filmmakers tend to think of themselves as evangelists first.

BOR: Is working on Christian movie sets any better or worse than working on ‘secular’ movie sets?

SPM: I have been working on sets since my days as an advertising producer back in the late-1980s. I haven’t noticed a real difference between secular and Christian movie sets. On the behind the scenes videos of Christian films, I always see people saying how they pray on the set all the time, but I never saw that on any of my films. Then again, I’m a writer. I never have an early call time. Maybe everyone got prayed up before I arrived.

To me, the biggest difference is between union and non-union shoots. When I was an ad producer, I was not a fan of the unions. Now, however, I am a strong supporter of them. Too many unscrupulous filmmakers would take advantage of the cast and crew if the various unions didn’t protect them. Not only that, I think crews work better when they know they are in a safe environment and that their rights are protected.

Most of the Christian films I worked on were non-union, with the exception of the Screen Actors Guild.

BOR: What are your future plans for new Christian entertainment (movies, series, etc.)?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?

SPM: My script. “I, John,” a 2012 winner of the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays, is currently in development. I am not working on any other faith-based scripts now. I have turned my attention to books. Touchpoint Press published my memoir “The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God.” It was a great experience. I was able to discuss my faith and how it affected my life without having to filter it through the egos of producers, actors and directors. It was much more honest and refreshing. I have just finished a novel called “Chapel Street.” It is a horror story, inspired by some events in my own life, which has a strong spiritual message. You can read some samples of both books on my blog.

BOR: Thank you for your time!

SPM: Thank you!

Q&A with James Markert, Author of What Blooms From Dust

Allison Carter, the senior publicist for Harper Collins Publishers, was kind enough to share with us an article containing a Q&A with author James Markert discussing Peter Cotton, an important character in his new book, What Blooms From Dust. Peter is a caring and intuitive individual who happens to have autism. While some may see him as unimportant, his role in the story is essential. Thank you to Ms. Carter for sharing this with us!

Author’s Note: The article below is the property of Harper Collins Publishers. The opinions expressed therein are their own. 

 

Just like us: Characters with autism, developmental conditions are another form of representation and inclusion in literature

James Markert talks about the role of an autistic character in his new novel,

What Blooms from Dust

 

Q: In your book, What Blooms from Dust, the main character, Jeremiah Goodbye, has just escaped from prison and is headed home when he befriends a young man named Peter Cotton. Peter seems to be autistic. Why did you write this character this way?

 

I didn’t go into the story with the intention of creating an autistic character, but when I first had Jeremiah Goodbye lay eyes on him and Peter smiled with such innocence, I felt his personality, challenges and quirks all come together for me.  

 

Q: Your book is set in the 1930s, and the term “autism” as well as the condition was not commonly known. What did you learn about society’s view of people with autism and other developmental conditions during this era? 

 

Once I decided that Peter’s character probably had autism, I delved a little deeper into the time period, and, like many things back then, ignorance unfortunately played too much of a part in how people perceived someone that was different. They were viewed as “simple” or “slow,” which was why the mother in the book, in an unfortunate occurrence during the depression, was trying to sell him and not her two “typical” boys. But this is also why I was determined, even though Peter often struggled to communicate with those around him, to make him the most perceptive character in the story.

 

Q: According to AutismSpeaks.org, about a third of those with autism are nonverbal. Peter Cotton doesn’t speak, but uses a typewriter to communicate with others. How does this add to his character? 

 

He does speak, but mainly to repeat whatever was said to him, which can be frustrating to some of those around him. The typewriter for him, and subsequent letters he writes, simply act as a conduit to his brilliance; in turn, making his character quite unique. Not so much because he communicates with the written word, but because of the power of his words, however simple they may be. Peter has a way of saying a lot with a little.

 

Q: Mental and physical disabilities are underrepresented in literature, so how did you go about researching characters with certain challenges in other books?

 

To be honest I didn’t. Peter came to me and he was what he was. Part of the beauty of being able to set

his character during a time period where autism wasn’t an official diagnosis yet, was that I never labeled him as anything other than a smiley boy with dimples. He was just…Peter.  I’ve read about and

researched autism in the past and have gotten to know various neurodivergent individuals through my

family, friends and students, but Peter really came to me all on his own.

 

—MORE—

Q: Why was it important for Jeremiah and Peter Cotton to meet?

I think their relationship was the ultimate “need one another” situation. Their meeting and ultimate friendship is a major catalyst in the story, one where they not only need each other but end up changing each other. For the good, of course.

 

Q: What make Peter relatable to readers and other characters in the story?  And what makes him distinct?

 

After being abandoned by his mother, Peter is really looking for a place and people to belong to, like so many of us, and like the other characters in the book.  What makes him most distinct is his keen sense of observation. He may be quiet, but he’s always watching and listening. And the other characters will come to learn that they’ve underestimated him.  That he can see and hear beyond their “noise” to the truth of any given situation.

 

Q: What will readers ultimately gain by meeting Peter Cotton?

 

Simply put, they’ll be gaining a friend. Someone who will hopefully make them smile.  

 

About the book

Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, giving him a second chance at life. Upon his escape, he realizes he has entered a world he doesn’t recognize—one overtaken by the Dust Bowl. During his journey home to Nowhere, Oklahoma, he accidentally rescues a young boy named Peter Cotton.  When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere let years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust. Unlikely heroes Jeremiah and Peter Cotton try to protect the townspeople from themselves. Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.

What Blooms from Dust releases June 26, 2018 by HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson.

Praise

Booklist STARRED review

“Historical fiction at its finest that makes the reader want to learn more about the time and the people who lived there, and those who left.”

Publishers Weekly

“Markert creatively portrays the timeless battle between good and evil, making for a powerful story of hope and redemption.”

About the Author

Image result for james markert

James Markert lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which was later published as A White Wind Blew.

James is also a USPTA tennis pro and has coached dozens of kids who’ve gone on to play college tennis in top conferences like the Big 10, the Big East, and the ACC. Learn more at JamesMarkert.com; Facebook: James Markert; Twitter: @JamesMarkert.