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!