Thursday, December 10, 2009

James Pence Joins Us to Talk About Terror By Night and Blind Sight






Hey gang!

Today, we are joined by author James Pence to talk a little about two different books that he has released this year. First, you'll get a little detail about both books and then the interview. Read the bottom as you can have an opportunity to win something cool just by posting. Also, keep in mind that I'll be reviewing Blind Sight a week from today (Thursday, 12/17) to give you another reader's perspective. So here we go!

About Terror by Night:

(Greenville, TX) – A father denied his daughter dating privileges with a certain young man. Typical teenage behavior might have included pouting, a bad attitude or perhaps even a yelling match. Never in a million years would Terry Caffey have suspected it would involve murder. Yet, in the early morning hours of March 8, 2008, Terry’s whole world turned upside down. His wife and two sons where brutally murdered and burned in the house they lived and Terry was shot twelve times…by his daughter and her friends.

Terry Caffey and James Pence reconstruct this tragic yet strangely beautiful true story of God’s sovereignty, forgiveness and grace in Terror by Night. As if the story of Caffey’s family wasn’t enough, readers will be captivated by the way God ordained the meeting between the Blind Sight author and Caffey with a burnt page from Blind Sight found at the crime scene.

About Blind Sight:

No one plans for bad things to happen. No one plans on losing their family. No one knows how to move on after horror strikes. No one. Not even Thomas Kent. After receiving a strange phone call from a long-ago friend requesting Kent to pick up a package at the airport, Kent begins a spine tingling, suspense filled journey in which he hopes to reunite the package (his friend’s children) with their mother, Justine, a traitor in the Fellowship for World Renewal Cult. Twists and turns in this page turning drama make Blind Sight not only a journey of extreme action and thrills, but one of discovering the sovereign plan of God.
James H. Pence is a full-time professional writer and editor living near Dallas, Texas. James is a multi-talented writer who has been published in both fiction and nonfiction. His publishers include Tyndale House, Kregel, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. James holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in creative writing and journalism from Dallas Theological Seminary. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from Dallas Bible College.

James is also a vocalist and gospel chalk artist, and he regularly uses his talents to share the gospel in prisons. James is the author of Blind Sight, a gripping novel about mind-control cults and coauthor (along with Terry Caffey) of the new book: Terror by Night: The True Story of the Brutal Texas Murder that Destroyed a Family, Restored One Man’s Faith, and Shocked a Nation.

And now the interview with James Pence.

1. You've dabbled in a little bit of everything career-wise. Give us a brief summary of your journey so far.

I have definitely had a colorful background as you've already mentioned. I guess the one unifying thread that has run through everything I do is the service of God. I knew when I was 14 years old that God had called me into the ministry, and I've never wavered from that. And even though that ministry now includes such things as teaching karate to homeschoolersI consider that as much a part of my calling as anything else.

Since finishing Bible College back in 1978 I have been a youth pastor, a camp director, a pastor, a prison evangelist, a gospel chalk artist, a speaker, a singer, a Web designer, a writer, a karate teacher, an art teacher, and a writing teacher. Amazingly, I'm still active in most of those things. I'm not pastoring anymore, and I've long since left directing summer camps behind me, but everything else I still do.

It would be a book in and of itself if I were to try to go into the details of all of those different things and how I got started doing each of them. Suffice it to say that I've always believed that the talents that we have are stewardships. Thus I've always felt that if I have a talent in an area I have a responsibility to develop and use it for God's glory. And that's why do so many different things. I wouldn't have it any other way.

2. There was a tight deadline for Terror by Night. Tell us a little bit about how you interviewed Terry Caffey and the timeline you had to submit your book.

There was definitely a tight deadline for Terror by Night. I had a total of 12 weeks in which to write it and that included doing all the interviewing with Terry. I'm very happy to say that I was able to meet that challenge, but there were times when I wondered if I could get it all done.

Terry and I got together every Wednesday for several hours and I would interview him. Our first few interviews were just for getting the layout of the book planned. I had to get an idea of the different aspects of the story that needed to be pulled together, sort of like a plot outline. And then I actually had a plan the storyline based on my discussions with Terry.

It was sort of a cumulative thing, because as we talked each week more questions would come up and I would make notes on those and we would discuss them in subsequent weeks.

I recorded all of the interviews with a digital voice recorder and then transferred them all to my computer. After that I edited the interviews down into soundbites of two to three minutes all according to topics. Then I put them all on my iPod and would listen to them at every spare moment. My goal was to be familiar enough with Terry's voice so that the book would sound natural and that it would sound like Terry was doing the speaking or writing.

3. Because of the intensity of this book, how did you deal with the emotional side of writing? Did it ever become more than you or Terry could deal with at one sitting?

This was a very difficult story to write and it was very stressful for both of us, but in different ways. As we went through the interview process Terry began to struggle with depression and had some rough moments. Once or twice we had changed the topic of our discussion because it was just getting to be too hard on him.

For me the stress came from the deadline more than the storyline. The fastest I'd written a book before was 20 weeks, and writing this one in 12 weeks was like running a marathon. Near the end I was exhausted, but still had to get that word count out every day. There were times when I would just become overwhelmed with the size of the task. But there was nothing to do but keep moving forward.

So we were both very happy when this project was complete.

4. You enjoy some great ministry opportunities outside of your writing. Share how God is using your other gifts to reach others for Christ.

As I mentioned earlier, in addition to being a writer I am a gospel chalk artist and a vocalist. I've been doing that for over 30 years now and really enjoy being able to use art and music to bring a message to people. For about the last 15 years I've been going into prisons with my art and music and sharing the gospel with inmates. That's been a huge blessing to me. In fact, I often say that after a prison service I've been far more blessed than the inmates. And recently God has begun to open up more doors both in prison and out. Over a six-week period, I'll be drawing in Florida, Iowa, and Alabama.

One of the great things about chalk art is that even if the people who see a drawing don't remember everything I say, they will remember the picture and the scripture that the picture represented. I've had people write me who saw my pictures 20 years ago and came to Christ through them, and now they are serving Christ in churches and other ministries. That's one of the great joys of this ministry.

5. With the re-release of Blind Sight, it's almost like two books releasing at once. What message do you hope readers will take away from reading both books?

I was so excited when Tyndale decided to release Blind Sight a second time. It's rare that a novel gets a second chance at life. And it's especially satisfying that both books were released simultaneously. And even though one is a novel and the other a nonfiction book, the message that people can take away from the books is really the same. God is sovereign.

So often we are confused when difficult circumstances come into our lives and we wonder why God would allow that. Sometimes we even get angry with him and demand an explanation like Terry did. But the message of both Blind Sight and Terror by Night is that while God doesn't explain himself to us, we can trust in his goodness and sovereign grace. We know that he is working all things together for our good and we can trust him in that. Blind Sight communicates that message by way of a novel; Terror by Night communicates the same message by way of a true story.

Now comes the fun part. How you can win something really cool!

Special Gift Basket Opportunity!

Each blog tour host has the opportunity to send in the name of one of their commenters for a chance to win a gift basket from the author.

This special one of a kind basket includes:

Angel- James Pence
Bind Sight- James Pence
Terror By Night- James Pence
Quality 8.5 X 11 in printing of the scorched page
DVD of Chalk Art Illustrations from James Pence

So comment and give me your thoughts!

I love you guys!
Frank

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