ASK THE AUTHOR: Creston Mapes
LATEST PROJECT: Fear Has a Name (9780781408165, $14.99, June 1).
PUBLISHER: David C Cook.
What challenges does Jack Crittendon face in Fear Has a Name?
First, he is working on an investigative story for his newspaper about a missing pastor and his family; that story in itself and the mysteries he discovers are harrowing. At the same time, his family has experienced a home invasion. As time goes on, it appears the “robbery” was not random, but that someone is stalking Jack’s wife, Pamela, and endangering their two young girls.
What inspired this novel?
Many years ago we experienced a home break-in while my wife was at home with our first baby. The man entered the house violently. My wife was forced to grab the baby and run next door to a neighbor’s house. Many years later, I had a dream about a man loitering around the front door of a family’s home, ready to break in. I woke up and wrote down everything about that man. He is Granger Meade, the antagonist in Fear Has a Name. One of the interesting things about Granger is that he was unwanted by his parents and bullied as a youth. It is a timely story.
What is the story’s premise?
We all have our own unique personal fears. Some of those fears might have to do with threats from other people or circumstances out of our control. The premise of the novel deals with facing such fears, surviving and overcoming them, and, ultimately, choosing to love.
How do the characters handle fear?
That’s what I hope readers will find intriguing. All of the characters deal with fear differently. Pamela’s mother is a paranoid alcoholic, and Pamela battles tendencies of fear and paranoia. Although Jack is strong and courageous, he is up against unthinkable trials—and fears. Granger, the antagonist, fights fears of his own that stem from a troubled childhood and from having been brought up by parents who were legalistic religious fanatics.
The plot clips along at an exciting pace and yet the characters are well-developed. How did you accomplish this?
I always try to start a manuscript with unique likeable characters who are thrown into trying circumstances. Because I am not a plotter, the characters—the type of people they are—determine how they respond to those trials. Once I get set in my mind what those characters are like, I do not stray from that, and I let their personalities determine how they respond. It’s as if I am just an observer saying, “Oh my, Jack’s old temper is going to flare,” or, “Oh wow, Pamela is going to insist they get a gun in the house.” My characters often surprise me, scare me and take me on thrill rides—often to places I’d rather not go. But, in doing so, I know the reader is going to be glued to the pages.
Why did you incorporate bullying in this thriller?
Ever since I was a boy I have had a soft spot in my heart for underdogs, including people who are bullied, overweight and unpopular in the world’s eyes. I do not like bullies! And I think bullying is one of the lowest things a person can do to another human being. I wanted to explore the topic a bit in this book and follow a boy who was bullied and unwanted into adulthood. I thought it would touch people’s hearts, help us become more concerned about other people’s feelings and make for a thrilling and thought-provoking story.
What faith-building ideas do you think readers will take away from this novel?
It is easy to say, “No matter what, God is sovereign.” It is easy to say, “All things work together for good.” But what about when the unthinkable happens? When it strikes hard and deep and turns our worlds upside down? What does that do to our faith? I actually don’t know what it would to do my faith or my relationship with God, but I wanted to explore that in this novel. Hopefully, readers will take away the thought that they need to reserve judgment and wear another person’s shoes before judging or criticizing anyone else—whether that person is a Christian or not.
Will there be more books featuring Jack Crittendon?
Yes! Fear Has a Name is the first book in the new series known as “The Crittendon Files.” We just finished the cover design for book two, Poison Town, a book that readers are going to love. I’m halfway through writing the third novel in the series. My publisher and I are confident once fiction-lovers get a hold of this first book, they are going to be clamoring for more.
What other information would help Christian retailers recommend Fear Has a Name?
Express to customers and book-lovers that Fear Has a Name is not a horror story. As a reader myself, I don’t read books that are simply scary. It must have a solid plot and intriguing characters. Fear Has a Name is thought-provoking. It has spiritual depth. It deals with topics like bullying, gun control, depression and how people deal with unthinkable trials. It is a book that book clubs will love to discuss.