What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? (Or somewhere in between?)
Definitely the latter. I try to put interesting characters in difficult situations and then write to find out what happens. It’s intuitive for me, and while it often feels as if I’m a trapeze artist without a net, it seems to work. I’m often as surprised or disappointed as the reader, and I think that serendipity helps. If I don’t know what’s coming, the reader shouldn’t either.
When someone asks why I killed off their favorite character, I say, “I didn’t kill him off; I found him dead.”
How does your writing style differ from writing alone to writing with a partner?
I always write alone. In the case of the Left Behind series, Dr. LaHaye generated the idea and served as the theologian/scholar/prophecy expert/cheerleader, but I got the fun part. I did all the writing.
Did your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
I hope so. That’s the goal. When readers tell me they caught themselves praying for fictitious people, I know I succeeded.
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
I’m a big devotee of The Elements of Style (Strunk and White), especially the rule that follows its own advice: Omit Needless Words. I’m a minimalist, trying to inspire readers to use the theater of their own minds.
What message would you like your readers to take from the The Last Operative?
What should set apart the Christian novelist from the secular is a worldview that includes hope. I’m so tired of gritty, realistic, depressing, life’s-awful-and-then-you-die fiction. How about gritty, realistic, life’s-awful-but-because-of-God-there’s-hope fiction?
What is your greatest achievement?
Never missing one of my three sons’ important events – games, plays, performances, etc., etc., despite averaging five books a year for more than 30 years. Kids hear what you say (“You’re my top priority”), but they believe what you do (maintaining a policy of never writing when they were at home and awake). They are now grown and gone and we’re still very close.
And I’m looking forward to Dianna’s and my 40th anniversary in January. Once I met her, no other woman has even turned my head.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
To use fiction to tell truth with a capital T and to never bore.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I love seeing the grandkids, movies, reading, traveling. Dianna and I will visit Beijing for the first time to celebrate our 40th.