Welcome back, James. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Where fiction is concerned, I enjoy reading thrillers, so that’s what I like to write. To me, a good suspense/thriller is the literary equivalent of a roller coaster ride. I enjoy the challenge of writing a story that will keep readers turning the pages.
As for nonfiction, I enjoy writing the stories of people who have faced difficult or tragic circumstances but have overcome them through God’s power and help. I like to write stories where God wins.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
June 14, 1980, the day I married my best friend and the love of my life, Laurel.
How has being published changed your life?
It’s like a dream come true. For years, I longed for the day when I could make a living as a writer. That’s a reality for me now, and I love it. Whenever I’m tempted to complain about deadlines, workload, or some of the other frustrations that authors face, I remind myself how blessed I am to be doing what I do. God has given me the desire of my heart.
What are you reading right now?
How much time do you have? I’m usually reading five or more books at the same time. Here are a few that are in my current reading list: The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns, Undiluted by Benjamin Corey, Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler, The City by Dean Koontz, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King, The 10-Second Rule by Clare DeGraff, The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill.
What is your current work in progress?
I have six nonfiction collaborations in various stages of development. Two are similar to my book Terror by Night in that they focus on people who have lived through horrific circumstances, but have grown in their faith through them.
My current fiction project is an edit/rewrite of my very first novel, Friendly Revenge for publication in 2015.
What would be your dream vacation?
A trip to
to (hopefully) see the Northern Lights.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I use a mixture of real and fictionalized settings. For example, Mercy Killer is set in
. However, Sentinel Health
Systems (the hospital where the action takes place) is something I created.
It’s loosely based on the Gaylord Texan resort. Dallas,
Beyond that, because I don’t enjoy research, I try to stay with locations I’m familiar with. One exception is a novella that I ghostwrote a few years ago (The Encounter). The author wanted it to be set in
. I’ve never been to Fairbanks,
Alaska Alaska, so I had to do
quite a bit of research to get the setting accurate. One Amazon reviewer said,
“The setting is in Alaska,
and I liked that it was written in such a way that you know the author has
really spent time there,” so I guess I did a good job of research.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
I can only choose one? That’s tough. As a writer, I’d probably choose Stephen King (and/or) Dean Koontz. (I know. I cheated.) Much of what I’ve learned about writing and storytelling has come from them. I’d love to have an evening to sit down and chat.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I enjoy painting, drawing, playing keyboards and singing, mowing my six-acres of pasture with a push mower (great aerobic exercise), and spending time with my awesome wife.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Inertia. The hardest part of writing for me is getting started. If I’m stuck in neutral, I put myself on the clock. I set up a timer for 25-minute intervals and push myself to write at least 350 words in that amount of time. That usually does it. Oh, I also use a program called Freedom to turn off Internet access while I write.
The Internet is both a blessing and a curse to me as a writer. It’s a blessing because it makes research easier than ever. It’s a curse because it is one of the greatest time wasters ever invented.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
First, learn your craft before you try to get published. And please master the basics. Don’t expect an editor to correct your sloppy spelling, punctuation, formatting, etc. You’d think this would be obvious. Sadly, it’s not.
Second, don’t rush to self publish your book just because you’ve gotten some rejections from conventional publishers. Yes, it’s tough breaking in, but nowadays many writers aren’t even trying.
Third, if you do self publish, do it right. Many self-published novels and nonfiction books are poorly written, poorly edited, have cheesy looking covers, and amateurish layout. If you are planning to self publish, show respect to the people who are going to shell out their hard-earned money to buy your book. Don’t give them an inferior product. Hire an editor to go over your book. Get a good cover designer, and have someone who knows what she’s doing handle the layout. Pay someone to proofread your book before it’s released. Turn out the best product you can possibly produce.
Okay, I’m off my soapbox.
Tell us about the featured book.
Mercy Killer is a thriller/mystery that is set against the backdrop of the right-to-die and euthanasia issue. Lori Westlake is a physician working at Sentinel Health Systems in
. She is invited to join a
clandestine euthanasia society operating in the hospital and secretly helping
patients who wish to take their own lives. Because she is an advocate of
euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, she considers becoming a part of
this group. What she doesn’t know is that a serial mercy killer is also working
within the organization. Dallas,
When a patient is murdered, Charles Hamisch, a retired police detective is recruited to help solve the case. Detective Hamisch has recently been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and is struggling with suicidal thoughts of his own. As he faces his own impending death, Lori and Charles ultimately join forces in a desperate attempt to capture the “Angel of Mercy.”
Please give us the first page of the book.
St. Louis, Missouri
The woman hovered between life and death.
The woman hovered between life and death.
One day after her thirty-third birthday MariBeth Wilson, mother of three young children, had suffered a massive stroke. Quick work by an
EMS team had kept her alive, but severe brain
damage had left her in an irreversible coma.
Her husband, Rick, sat beside the bed staring at a small photograph in his hands, virtually in a coma of his own. The third-year resident assigned to the case stood at the door and watched. After a few seconds, he felt a presence at his side. The nursing shift supervisor nudged his arm.
“He hardly ever moves,” she said, shaking her head. “He won’t eat, won’t talk. I told him if he didn’t eat, he’d turn into as much a vegetable as she is.”
The resident’s anger flashed white and hot. “Don’t use that word around me,” he said, “and certainly not around him.” He nodded in Rick’s direction.
“I’m sorry, Doctor,” the nurse replied with just the barest hint of condescension in her voice, as if she wanted to remind him that she’d been working as an RN back when he was still in diapers.
She didn’t say it though. Not to his face. She knew better.
“Bring me a cup of coffee,” he said, stepping into the room.
The nurse drew herself up. “Doctor, you can get your own—”
“Bring me a cup of coffee.”
The nurse turned on her heel and strode angrily down the hallway.
The young physician entered the room and circled around to the far side of the bed. He held out his hand. “Good morning, Mr. Wilson.”
Rick kept gazing at the photo. His black hair was matted and unkempt, and judging by the stubble on his face, he hadn’t shaved for a few days.
The resident pulled up a chair and sat down. “They tell me you’re not eating.”
“Is that your family?” the resident asked, gesturing toward the picture.
Rick nodded weakly, his eyes fixed on the photograph.
“May I see it?”
He appeared to think about it and then offered the picture to the resident.
“Nice family,” the resident said. “Three children?”
The grieving husband looked at the resident through red-rimmed eyes. He swallowed and nodded. A tear leaked from the corner of one eye and traced its way down his cheek and into the stubble of his beard.
“Those kids are going to need you, Mr. Wilson.” The resident’s voice was gentle.
Rick put his head in his hands and ran his fingers through his hair. “I can’t do it.”
“Doctor?” a voice called from the doorway.
The resident looked up. The nursing supervisor stood in the doorway frowning, a paper cup of coffee in her hand. He motioned her to bring the coffee to him.
“What can’t you do?” the resident asked as he took the steaming cup from the nurse’s hand. He motioned toward the door with the back of his hand, dismissing her.
She sighed disapprovingly and left the room.
“I can’t handle this,” Rick said, glancing briefly at MariBeth’s still form on the bed. “They said she could go on like this for ...” he choked up, unable to finish the sentence.
“For a long time,” the resident finished for him. He handed Rick the coffee. “Here, you look like you could use this.”
“Thanks,” he said, taking a sip from the cup. For the first time since he’d entered the room, the resident thought he saw the hint of a smile on the man’s face.
The resident noticed a tiny ceramic angel about the size of a person’s thumb on the table next to MariBeth’s bed. Trying to draw Rick into a conversation, he pointed toward the angel. “What’s that?” he asked.
Rick picked up the angel and handed it to the resident. “Her mother gave it to her when she was little. Told her the angels would always be watching over her.” He shrugged. “She always kept it at her bedside at home. I don’t know why I brought it here. I think the angels forgot about her.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @jameshpenceGoodreads: www.goodreads.com/jameshpence
Thank you, James, for sharing your new book with us. I love medical thrillers.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Mercy Killer - Christianbook.com
Mercy Killer - Amazon
Mercy Killer - Kindle
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: