In writing Deception, how did you hope to connect with readers who are non-believers?
The main character, Ollie Chandler, is an unbeliever. He blames a God he’s not sure exists for the loss of his wife to cancer; he’s haunted by the death of another loved one; and he’s alienated from his grown daughters.
Ollie has had many bad experiences with Christians. Since he’s the viewpoint character, non-Christian readers will relate to his experiences, and Christian readers will see phony and genuine believers through his eyes. Ollie takes some shots at Christians, so in the beginning no reader will feel like this is a “Christian” novel.
Media bias was a major theme in Deadline and racial prejudice in Dominion. Deception’s main theme is the problem of injustice and suffering. Ollie questions whether there’s a God, and if God is good, how he can allow evil. While there are phony Christians in the book, there are also genuine ones. So I hope unbelievers will learn not to throw out the baby of genuine Christianity with the bathwater of hypocrisy.
My hope and prayer is that unbelievers will be touched more by Deception than any book I’ve written. It’s the kind of book a believer can give to a friend, or a reading group can go through together. We put questions in the back to encourage one-on-one and group discussions.
Unlike Deadline and Dominion, which are written in the third person, Deception is written in the first person viewpoint, like the classic detective novels. The advantage of first person is the instant intimacy the reader can feel with this character. This should serve to help non-Christians identify with Ollie, since many of his perspectives and concerns and questions will be theirs. The disadvantage of first person is its limitations. I wrote only the heaven scenes and the one hell scene from a third person viewpoint. Everything else is seen through Ollie’s eyes.
Another disadvantage of first person is that you have to have a very interesting character or he’ll get old quickly. If you tire of him or find him bland or overly irritating, you don’t want to keep reading. People have told me Ollie is very entertaining. They cheer for him, but also see his need for faith and spiritual enlightenment. I hope they’ll see their own need for the same.