Intervention, Intervention Series #1Intervention, Intervention Series #1
Terri Blackstock
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The intervention was supposed to help Barbara's family---not thrust them into a new nightmare. But when her 18-year-old daughter, Emily, is escorted to drug treatment, the therapist is murdered and Emily vanishes. Barbara and her 14-year-old son are frantic. The police think Emily's the killer---but what if they're wrong? And where is she now? 352 pages, softcover from Zondervan.

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terri BlackstockTerri Blackstock's books have sold several million copies in the Christian Fiction Market, many of which are number one bestsellers.  Terri has appeared on national television programs such as "The 700 Club" and "Home Life," and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

Favorite Verses: Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 3:20. I have a plan for you, declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

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 Our Interview with Terri Blackstock


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing professionally for twenty-six years—the last fifteen years in the Christian market. I’m a wife and the mother of three grown children, and I live in Mississippi.

How did you get started writing Christian fiction?

I spent the first thirteen years of my career writing romance in the secular market (Harlequin, Silhouette, Dell, and HarperCollins). Even though I was a Christian when I went into that market, I began making compromises in the interests of selling more books. Eventually my books were as graphic and profane as any others out there. In 1994 I came under intense conviction that I wasn’t using my gifts in the way God intended. Miserable, and wanting to be used by God, I repented and told God I would never write anything else that didn’t glorify Him.

At that time I was reading more suspense than romance, so I decided that if I was going to start over, using my real name instead of my pseudonyms, I could write whatever I wanted. I pretty quickly sold a four-book suspense series to Zondervan. Since that time I’ve written over thirty-five books in the Christian market, most of them suspense. God has blessed my efforts to point readers to Him and teach biblical principles in books that also entertain.

What inspired your interest in writing Intervention?

About six years ago, I learned that my own daughter had a severe drug addiction. We spent the next few years trying to get her help. During that time, my books had some painful emotional themes with parents crying out to God, but I didn’t really want to write about our personal journey at that time. I guess I was pouring that emotion into characters in other painful situations. I think, looking back, that my readers probably noticed those new themes of sad, frustrated parents feeling helpless as their children suffered.
But a couple of years ago, I felt like I’d finally come to a point where I could process all we’d been through by writing a novel about it. My daughter encouraged me to write Intervention, because we realized how many families are struggling with this. I wanted to tell their story. Though the book didn’t mirror our struggle exactly (there was no murder in ours, of course), I was able to pour a lot of myself into the mother, Barbara, who is so desperate to save her daughter. And writing from Emily’s (the daughter’s) point of view was therapeutic for me. It helped me to understand a little more of what she’d been going through.


How did you come up with the concept for Intervention?

Intervention begins with Barbara setting up an intervention for her daughter. She hires an interventionist and picks her up at the airport, and then I take the reader through this very tense intervention scene. That really was borrowed from real life. I was that mother, picking up that stranger who was supposed to come in and rescue my daughter. And when she did convince my daughter to go treatment, I put her on a plane with this person. I remember thinking as they went through security that anything could happen. My suspense writer’s brain thought, what if I never see her again? After that, the wheels began turning, and soon I was thinking, “What if the interventionist were murdered and the daughter disappeared? What if they assumed the daughter killed her because of her drug history? What if the mother had to go looking for her child?”

Needless to say, those thoughts did nothing to help me through the emotion of that time, but I filed those ideas away in my mind, and knew that eventually I’d have to write that book.

How much of Intervention is factual?

The emotions in the book are real, and some of the conversations and the mother’s thoughts came from real moments in our lives. When you deal with a family member in the grips of addiction, you learn a lot that you didn’t want to know about the drug culture, the legal system, rehabs, and the ups and downs of sobriety. I put a lot of what I’d learned into that book. And the effects on the family are certainly real. Drug addiction is like a cancer on the whole family. It changes everything.

How closely is Intervention based on your life experiences?
While it was based on some real experiences, I never forgot, from page one on, that it was fiction. As I wrote, I was as concerned with the plot and characters, and the twists and turns and surprises in the plot, as I am with any of my books. I think the fact that I’d felt what Barbara was feeling made it easier to tell this story, but I always had my readers in mind, and constantly asked myself if they’d be surprised, if they’d keep turning those pages, if they’d stay up late to read it ... I approached it like I approach all of my books.


How long did Intervention take you to complete?
I have nine months to work on each book, and I always use every minute of that time.

Do you have a favorite character in Intervention? Why?

That’s a hard question. I feel very close to Barbara, the mother. But I think Lance, the fourteen-year-old son, is one of my favorite characters. He’s this funny kid who’s had to grow up a little because of his sister, and he provides comic relief as he helps his mother search for Emily. I liked him so much that I sort of centered Book 2, Vicious Cycle, around him.

How much research did Intervention take?

Even though I was able to use a lot of the research I’d already done, trying to help my daughter, I still had to do a lot, because different scenes in my story required specific things that I wasn’t sure about. I do a lot of research on every book, so again, that was pretty much the way I approach every book.

What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Intervention?

I learned how many bad rehabs there are out there, and how they prey on families who are desperate to help their loved ones. Most families feel that they have to make an immediate decision about where to send their addict, but they have no information about what the good places are. They trust their internet searches, which have a lot more to do with marketing than they do with really trying to help addicts. I hope I was able to illuminate that problem. I put up a page on my web site called “Hope for Families of Addicts,” which gives tips on finding the right rehab, etc. I hope people have been helped by the book and that page, as well as the resources I’ve recommended there to help families.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I feel pressure to make each book better than the one before it, and that can be daunting sometimes. The part I hate the most is the first draft. I have to force myself to write that draft as fast as I can, just to get the story down. After that, in second, third, tenth, fifteenth drafts, I get more creative. The last draft usually bears little resemblance to the first one.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love having several hours a day of silence, and just living in my head with these imaginary people. I also like keeping my own hours and being my own boss. It would be tough for me to work for someone else again after all these years.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I’m an outliner, but I’m pretty flexible with it. I usually outline as much as I can up front, and then I’ll do a very detailed outline of about a hundred pages at a time. But very often I veer off of that plan. With each draft I make plot changes, and I don’t feel beholden to that outline at all.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

After the first draft they do. I feel like I know them then, and in the second draft I can really flesh them out and make them more interesting.


What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
Vicious Cycle (Book 2 in the Intervention Series) will be out on February 22, 2011. I have a stand-alone (which doesn’t have a title yet) coming out next fall, and then in early 2012, Book 3 of the Intervention Series will release. I’m working on that one now.

I’ve also just signed a contract to collaborate on a book with David Lambert (author of The Missionary and many other books), who has been my editor for sixteen years. He knows my work so well that it seemed like a great fit. We’ve come up with a great story idea that we’re working on now, and I think it’s going to knock my readers’ socks off. It will release in 2012, and I’ll be telling my readers more about it as we nail down the title and know a definite release date.

What message would you like your readers to take from Intervention?

I want people to understand that our culture is killing our kids, and that this can happen to any family. We parents beat ourselves up a lot and dwell on mistakes we might have made, but the hard fact is that my daughter didn’t use drugs until she was over twenty-one and had three years of college behind her. I know pastors and missionaries and Christian leaders who have addicted children. And I want those families to find other people going through that and start support groups in their churches. They need someone to share with so they don’t feel so alone and ashamed. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t know if I could have survived it. The stress is just too great to bear alone.

I also want people to know that God uses everything in our lives, and sometimes our darkest trials can lead to the greatest blessings. God can work through all situations, and when we’re at the end of ourselves, that’s when God loves to show His might.

What is your greatest achievement?

I hope that my greatest achievement is that my work has impacted the lives of my readers. I believe that it has, because I get letters every day telling me how the Holy Spirit used something in my books to minister to someone. Sometimes it’s something I don’t even remember putting in. But God has someone in mind with every book.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My work must glorify God. I want it to have eternal value. When the pages are gone and they’ve forgotten the characters and the plot, I hope that the work it did on their lives will remain. I also want to challenge my readers to grow as Christians, and/or illustrate truths about Christ’s kingdom, His nature, and His provision in their lives. It’s very important to me to be a steward of the mysteries of God.


What do you do to get away from it all?

I have a weakness for decorating programs for some reason, so when my mind reaches the saturation point with my work, I usually escape with HGTV.

In addition, I’m a student/teacher of Precept Bible Studies, and I’m also a student of Chuck Missler’s Koinonia Institute. I know this sounds like a “churchy” answer, but deep Bible study always centers me and gives me a deep feeling of peace that I can’t get anywhere else. I don’t know why I sometimes deprive myself of that.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to ask the readers to pray for the authors they like to read, because some of our books come at a great personal cost. Many of the writers I know encounter fierce spiritual attacks on their families and their health. We don’t always talk about those things publicly, but it happens a lot. The enemy doesn’t want us to continue in our work. But thankfully, we know that this isn’t all there is. We have a limited number of years to make a difference on this earth, and I intend to use what God has given me for as long as I can.


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