LATEST PROJECT: The Fight (9781414389493, $14.99, May).
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers.
What is the premise of your first novel, The Fight?
The story is about a teenage boy called Sam, who suffers a life-shattering family tragedy. As a result, he becomes incredibly angry, fighting everything and everyone around him. One day, a street fight leads him to a boxing club run by a Christian boxing trainer called Jerry, who has dedicated himself to helping kids like Sam. But Jerry quickly realizes that Sam’s fighting talent, fueled by his anger, sets him apart as a potential champion boxer, leaving Jerry with a cruel dilemma. He wants to help Sam overcome his anger issues and discover God’s peace, yet he knows Sam’s anger could propel them both to the stardom and riches that Jerry himself had missed out on. It’s a tough, yet inspiring story, and one that I think makes most of us question what we would truly do in the same circumstances.
What types of characters are Sam and Jerry?
Sam is a wounded, angry, yet talented young man—like so many disadvantaged kids in our inner cities. Jerry is a man of God trying to do the right thing, but is deeply flawed, like most of us. I love them both as characters.
What research did you conduct for this story?
I grew up just outside London, so am familiar with where the story is set. I spent my teenage years following boxing, which gave me a background knowledge of the sport. The editor of the main U.K. boxing magazine helped me ensure the final draft was authentic.
How long did it take you to write The Fight, and what was its journey before it was scheduled for release in the U.S.?
The Fight actually took me 10 years to complete! I started in 2002, writing the first half whilst traveling overseas. Then the book was put away for seven years before I got it out and finished it.
Partly inspired by The Shack [by William P. Young] and also wanting to support prison ministry in the U.K., I decided to self-publish The Fight in early 2012. It was critically well-received and reached No. 2 on a U.K. Christian best-seller chart. I was introduced to an agent, Chip MacGregor by the novelist Davis Bunn, who had picked up a copy of The Fight whilst in the U.K. A few months later, I signed a deal with Tyndale House Publishers to help bring The Fight to a wider audience.
What has been the reception of your book in the U.K.?
Incredible. The Christian/inspiration fiction market in the U.K. is tiny compared to the U.S., and sometimes not taken very seriously as a genre—strange considering our spiritual fiction heritage with C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan. But The Fight is very different to most of the available Christian fiction over here and seems to have captured the imagination. It has also been used widely as an evangelistic tool and as a home and men’s group resource, which is why I have written some discussion points in the back of this edition. It is exciting and humbling to see God use something I have written to challenge people spiritually.
Since both main characters are male, do you see this as a book for men only?
Although I wrote the book with men and teenage boys in mind and the subject matter is quite masculine, still most of my readers have been women! I’ve had plenty of feedback starting, “I bought this for my husband and would never normally read a book about boxing, but. … ”
I’ve also loved hearing stories about how sons and husbands who would never normally read a Christian [novel] have been so intrigued to see Mum glued to a book with a boxer on the front cover that they have lined up to read it after her!
I understand that the book has been used as a tool in prison ministry. How did that come about?
When I first finished The Fight, I gave it to a friend involved in prison work. He loved the book and pressed upon me how valuable it could be in prison ministry. So when I self-published, I sold the book on a “Buy One, Give One Free” principle, with the free book going to prison ministry. We’ve now distributed around 1,000 copies of The Fight to around 80 prisons in the U.K., and I have had some amazing feedback about how prisoners have enjoyed the story and it has helped them on their journey of faith. To date, I have spent all my proceeds from the book, including my advance from Tyndale House Publishers, on giving books and developing this prison book ministry.
I pray this latest launch is just another step in getting appropriate books, including other people’s titles, into prisons in the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere. I hope to be publishing how we are going to do this and how in the future booksellers might participate through my website at lukewordley.com.
What other information might assist Christian retailers in getting the word out to their customers about The Fight?
Although they must receive thousands of books, I hope and pray Christian retailing staff will find the time to read The Fight for themselves. In the U.K., we found that when staff read the book, they immediately began recommending it to men and women (often to buy for their men folk!), and it became one of their best-selling books.
Fiction Releases: June
CHILD OF MINE
David and Beverly Lewis
Bethany House (Baker
hardcover, 416 pages, $19.99
Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his 8-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents’ lives. When he travels, Natalie is cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own.
Eight years ago, Kelly Maines’ baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignites a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile. Can this be, at long last, Kelly’s beloved daughter?
Child of Mine is also released simultaneously in softcover and large print.
softcover, 368 pages, $14.99
Seventeen-year-old Nyah Parks is a genius hacker who makes a living by cracking the firewalls of the world’s largest corporations. But when the biggest job of her life goes wrong, she’s plunged into a desperate situation with only one way out: one last hack that will either save her or kill her. So begins Hacker, a modern-day parable that examines the seen and the unseen, and reminds the reader that there is far more to who we are than meets the eye.
THE LAST QUEEN OF SHEBA
Jill Francis Hudson
softcover, 384 pages, $14.99
Against all odds, Makeda, daughter of an obscure African chieftain, is chosen as queen of Sheba. Recognizing her inexperience, her cousin Tamrin, a wealthy merchant and narrator of the novel, persuades her to visit Solomon, king of Israel. Solomon falls in love with her and tricks her into sleeping with him. She becomes pregnant and bears a son Later, when he visits his father, Solomon is a broken man, and Israel is no longer the nation of his youth.
Tyndale House Publishers
softcover, 400 pages, $14.99
Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.
Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again—this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.
Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.