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16 January 2012

Vengeance Squad: Interview with Sid Frost

*Your hostess for this clash is Asst. Editor Michelle Massaro

Good morning. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a chair, grab a mug, and visit with me and Sid Frost--author of excerpt A: The Vengeance Squad.

Sidney W. Frost is the author of Where Love Once Lived and The Vengeance Squad, both Christian novels, and the blog, The Christian Bookmobile.

Sid says: I got the idea for my first book while driving a bookmobile part-time as a student at the University of Texas. It wasn't until I retired from a career in computer science that I had time to write. Many writers have second careers, but I was also rehearsing three times a week as a member of the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus. I retired from that, too and starting writing in 2004. That's when I discovered I didn't know how to write a novel and started taking online courses. My instructor was Bonnie Hearn Hill, and I'm still learning from her.

Michelle: It's so nice to meet you, Sid, and to have you here to chat with us today. Tell me, what called you to write this story?

Sid: I was outdoors at an outlet mall coffee shop while my wife shopped. My mind started making up a story using the location as a setting and I could see the beginning of the book as it is now published, right up to the death scene. When I got home I put it in my computer and forgot about it. My first book had been sort of a romance, but in this new story idea I had killed off the female character in the first scene and had nowhere to go. I felt the emotional impact was strong, though, and it was a story worth writing. I wanted to know what Chris would do next.

A year later my wife died from pancreatic cancer after eight months of surgery and hospitalization. I was with her all during the time, spending nights at the hospitals, and nursing her when she was home. A year and a half after her death, The Vengeance Squad was published, and I believe writing it helped me with the grieving process.

Michelle: Wow, what a difficult season that must have been. I know a lot of people, having suffered a loss, find that reading stories exploring topics like these is cathartic for them. Would you agree that, in a sense, you and your readers have a connection through that shared experience?

Sid: I would think there could be a shared experience between an author and his or her readers, but most often we don’t know. Several readers have told me they cried as they read the beginning of The Vengeance Squad. Some, I believe, were feeling losses of their own and not just feeling for Chris. So, yes, there is a connection through shared experience. As authors, we may never know who we touch.

Michelle: It's amazing to think about, really. Many of us have been wounded in some way and wish for payback, but few seek it out as Chris does. What is it about Chris that made him put this desire into action?

Sid: There are several reasons why Chris is able to take the action he does. First, he feels responsible for Sarah's death and is angry with himself for not doing more to protect her. Going after her killers reduces the guilt he feels. Another reason is that he feels betrayed by God. Both he and Sarah were lifetime, faithful Christians. Blaming God for her death makes it easier for Chris to abandon his faith avenge Sarah's death. But, Chris is less than a warrior, both physically and mentally, so the search for the killers wouldn't have happened without the help of Tex, who provided skills Chris needed.

Michelle: Chris abandons everything, including his faith, in his quest for vengeance. How did he justify it to himself?

Sid: Chris justifies his quest for vengeance by denying the existence of God. When his pastor, Father Williams, comes for a visit, here is what Chris is thinking:
Here he was again, probably wanting to pray with me, and I didn’t know if God existed. If there was a god who’d let Sarah die the way she did, I wasn’t sure I wanted to worship that god.

Then later we learn this:
I walked slowly to my apartment. Not because of the crutches, but because of my thoughts. With every step, I silently denied the existence of God.

Michelle: Sadly, I think this is a very common reaction. Do you know a real-life Chris who allowed anger and pain to pull them away from their faith?

Sid: I didn't realize it until someone told me both my books are about men who have suffered tragedies that pulled them away from God. My first book, Where Love Once Lived, is often mistakenly thought of as a romance because of the title. However, the title refers to where the love of God once lived in Brian's (the male protagonist) heart.

I have to confess that this happened to me, although not in the way it happened to Chris in The Vengeance Squad or Brian in Where Love Once Lived. My pain came from a broken relationship that led me to doubt the existence of God. Although I was able to come out of the experience with my faith stronger than ever, I know some people who are still suffering.

Michelle: What's your favorite reader comment you've received for The Vengeance Squad?

Sid: Here is part of a book review on Amazon:
All in all I found this book a fun read with a lot of action and interesting characters plus the spiritual food for thought I already mentioned. I think the book would make an even better movie.
Michelle: How exciting would that be? So what's next? What should we keep an eye out for from you?

Sid: I'm writing a sequel to Where Love Once Lived currently called Do Unto Others. Several readers have asked about Liz Siedo, the librarian character, who is in both Where Love Once Lived and The Vengeance Squad. I've added a romantic interest for her in Do Unto Others, but there are some surprises for the readers. However, this new book is primarily about Karen and Brian. However, this time it is Karen who begins to doubt her faith. Will Brian's love be enough to pull her through the experience?

Michelle: Thank you, Sid. It was really great interviewing you today and I wish you the best of luck in your writing career. Is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

Sid: Yes. Do you prefer reading eBooks or printed books? Why?

Michelle: OK, readers, it's your turn. What do you think? Join the discussion or ask the author a question and you'll be entered into the book drawing. Wednesday we'll talk with MaryLu Tyndall. Be sure to join us!
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Gail Pallotta said... Monday, 16 January, 2012

Thanks for the interesting interview, Michelle and Sid.

April Gardner said... Monday, 16 January, 2012

Welcome, Sid! It's heartbreaking to hear about your wife. I bet she would be so proud of you.
As to your question, these days, I prefer ebooks. Never thought I'd say that! But I adore my Kindle and the fact that I have dozens of books waiting to be read and they aren't in a piles on my floor!

Sidney W. Frost said... Monday, 16 January, 2012

Thank you, Gail. I feel honored to be interviewed here.

Sidney W. Frost said... Monday, 16 January, 2012

Thank you, April. Regarding ebooks, have you noticed a trend where the cost of ebooks for new books is greater than paperback and sometimes hardback? Does cost enter into your decision to buy ebooks?

Joy Hannabass said... Monday, 16 January, 2012

Thanks for the interview. And I've had the honor of reading The Vengeance Squad and I LOVE it! I was hooked from the very first page. A must read for all of you suspense, thriller likers out there!

Sidney W. Frost said... Monday, 16 January, 2012

Thanks, Joy, for your kind words.

April Gardner said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Sid, I don't know that I've noticed ebooks being more expensive. Maybe a few times, yes. I do believe that on average they're more expensive than they should be. Since I'm cheap (grin) I keep track of the blogs that notify readers of all the free or very cheap ebooks currently available. I've fallen in love with several authors that way and then of course paid money for their next books. I think it's a great marketing strategy. So no, cost really doesn't come into play. I've actually saved a load of money this way. I have probably thirty books on my Kindle waiting to be read that I got for free. Gotta love FREE!!

Elaine Marie Cooper said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Great interview, Sid (and Michelle!). And it sounds like a powerful story filled with realistic emotions and experiences. I also extend my sympathies about your wife. Those are hurts that heal but always leave scars. May the Lord continue to use your writing to minister to others.

As far as e-books—I JUST got my first kindle and I love it! However, I still enjoy a paperback as well. I have divided loyalties. ;-) But like April, I like the opportunities to buy e-books when they are offered at a temporary reduced price. And many of the classics are FREE! You can't get a better deal than that. But Sid, you are right that some of the newer books are releasing with e-books at a much higher cost than before. It does seem to be a new trend. The great thing about Amazon is the variety of choices. Last night I found an out-of-print NEW book at a bookseller that was WAY less than a used one at another seller. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain...especially with research books. :-)

Tom Blubaugh said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Michelle and Sid, great interview. I haven't read either, but have them on my Amazon wish list now. I've had that kind of anger, but I had a misperception of God and it scared me. Over the years He has made Himself real to me and my perception is healthy. However, the fear drove the angry thoughts deeper and He is still healing me. This issue is not talked about in churches, from my experience. It should be, because it wasn't, I felt like I was the only person who experienced it, a the time. I know better now.


Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack

April Gardner said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

I think I'm going to have to pay closer attention to Kindle prices! Obviously, I've missed something.
Tom, great comments. Thanks for sharing!

Sidney W. Frost said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

April, I did a blog documenting some of the Kindle prices of new books (http://christianbookmobile.blogspot.com/2011/10/kindle-prices-up.html). I'm wondering if it is to placate the bookstores. Seems the prices go down soon after the book is released.

Sidney W. Frost said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Thank you, Elaine. My wife and I were both Stephen Ministers and Stephen Leaders and had studied grieving. I think it helped. We also had eight months of near 24x7 time to talk. She taught me a lot during that time and my faith is stronger for it.

Sidney W. Frost said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Elaine, it took me a long time to switch, but now I like Kindle best. I used to say I'd miss the feel of the book and the ability to highlight and make notes. But Kindle thought of that. Now, when I'm reading a book to review, I freely "mark" my Kindle edition to help me remember. However, I will still buy a hardback or paperback if the price is right. I have a printed copy of every Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

Sidney W. Frost said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Thank you for sharing your experience, Tom. That means a lot to me.

Michelle Massaro said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Great conversation here! My apologies for being MIA yesterday. My computer got a virus and I spent all day trying to fix it. (Still no luck.) But I was here in spirit!

I am so so glad for the opportunity to interview you, Sid. And to see the wonderful comments coming in lets me get to know everyone more. Especially hearing the stories of others who relate to the feelings expressed in Vengeance Squad. It always touches me to see how the Lord works through us to minister.

MaryLu Tyndall said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Great interview, Sid! And a very exciting excerpt!! I knew when I read it, I was in for a great competition.
I love how God can use us and the pain of our past to write stories that help others see HIm more clearly. What a wonderful job this is!
I, too, just got a kindle from my hubby for Christmas. So far, it's AWESOME. I can't believe how easy and quick it is to get a book and start reading. And I really don't miss holding a real book.

Sidney W. Frost said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Thank you, Michelle. And thank you for coming up with questions that made me dig down and feel.

Sidney W. Frost said... Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

MaryLu, I'm honored to be in competition with you. I've heard some very positive remarks about your books and enjoyed reading the excerpt. It made me wish I could have had a few more words to help my scene. Re Kindles, I believe there were probably many given as gifts this year. My book sales in January were the best yet, mostly Kindles. It is fun to be able to grab a new book so quickly. I also like the Book Descriptions and the reader comments entered via Shelfari.com.

Michelle Massaro said... Thursday, 19 January, 2012

You're welcome, Sid! I enjoyed reading your answers and getting to know you. Thanks for being here. =)

Item Reviewed: Vengeance Squad: Interview with Sid Frost Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Massaro