Author Interviews

A Chat with Author James Hannibal

Chat with Author
James Hannibal

James Hannibal
James Hannibal

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing novelist James Hannibal, one of our newest CAN members. A graduate of the US Air Force Academy, James has flown both fighter aircraft and the Stealth Bomber—and has done covert work on the ground! So he knows what he’s talking about when he writes thrillers.

Welcome, James! Please tell us about your book The Paris Betrayal.

The Paris Betrayal by James Hannibal
The Paris Betrayal by James Hannibal

The Paris Betrayal is a “spy left out in the cold” story. To restore his name and stop an attack, Ben Calix must find the sniper who tried to assassinate him, the doctor who saved him, the spymaster who trained him, and the man who killed the woman he loved.

That sounds amazing! What inspired you to write this book?

One day in Sunday School, my mind drifted. I know. I should have been listening. But we were deep in the book of Job, and in that book, the mind wanders. Anyway, it occurred to me that this was a “spy left out in the cold” story. Job feels betrayed. He’s been turned out of God’s grace, so he thinks, and he doesn’t understand why. The friends he seeks for help don’t have an understanding of the Creator’s ways. None of us do. And they give him poor answers. The Paris Betrayal is not strictly allegorical, but that story of a man coming to grips with his own place in the world and the sovereignty of his Creator (or spymaster) is what I tried to capture. I also had fun recreating Job’s friends as members of Ben’s elite covert operations world.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes story notes at church. Ahem. So how has God used the message of your book in your own life?

When COVID-19 struck, Cindy and I had just started a new business creating games and stories for use in discipling Christians. This is the same fantasy world in which my next upcoming novel Wolf Soldier lies. We experienced a loss of income in one of my jobs, income which was supporting the new business. We cried out to God, “Why would you do this?” But I was working on The Paris Betrayal at the time, studying Job. We realized our error in questioning Him and repented. Within hours, orders for one of our games started pouring in. Long story short, God had used a well-thought-out review by an atheist in the game community to generate enough sales to keep us going for a year. He is so good.

He is indeed. With such an exciting story line in your novel, you must have some incredible scenes. What was the hardest scene to write?

Ben’s frozen lake scene was the hardest for me. I had to get the details right for surviving a fall through the ice, complicated by the fact there for a spy, there’s no help, no paramedics to call once you’re out. But I also had to capture the agony and delirium that accompanies frostbite and hypothermia. Having experienced some of that on a small scale in the past while working as a survival instructor and battalion air liaison officer, it was painful to relive. It also hurt to put my beloved character through it.

Those painful-to-write scenes are the richest to read.

What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

I love London, so I see a lot of stories turning up there. Of course, you can’t throw a stone in London without hitting some incredible piece of history. I also see forgiveness showing up. God’s grace is so incredible, it has to be shared. Maybe I don’t speak about it in day-to-day life enough to meet that need, and so His forgiveness and our need to forgive each other crops up—often unexpectedly—in my writing.

Why do you love writing?

I always wanted to write and to be that person telling the story in the light of the campfire. As a kid, I checked a seek-and-find book out of the library. On the center spread, the artist had drawn a fair in a grassy vale with tents, colorful guests, and a juggling jester, but my eye went straight to a little boy peeking out from the edge of the forest, watching it all. I felt the boy wanting to know the stories of all those people at the fair, especially the jester. I wanted to know their stories too. And I knew, even then, if I wanted to know their stories, I’d have to write them myself. I’ve been working at it and loving it ever since.

I love that! Now, you’ve done a lot with your life. Do you still have an unfulfilled dream?

Racing flying cars. Hopefully I will remedy that soon, but I’ve got to lose some weight. No joke.

What ministries are you involved in, and why?

Lightraider Academy is our family’s ministry, and it is the focus of God’s calling for me to use my artistic skills for His purposes. He’s been incredibly clear on that point. The Lightraider world is a fantasy world from the 1980s that we took over. Today, it has two sides and two functions. On the one side are games and the other are stories and books. These two “sides,” of course, cross paths, especially since the games are story-based. The two functions are evangelism and discipleship. Too often, Christians attempt to use evangelistic tools for discipleship and vice versa. Did a parent or mentor ever say, “Use the right tool for the right job?” Same concept. Through Lightraider Academy we hope to create distinct tools for each job.

It seems obvious that you have talents aside from storytelling—any more talents you’d like to share?

I was pretty good at catching bad guys for a time, but those days are past. Nowadays, I’m not bad with digital art programs, including CAD, and I’m getting better at 3D printing. I’ve also learned how much math goes into good board game development.

Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?

I studied the Middle East and counterterrorism at the US Air Force Academy. I went on to fly a fighter aircraft that had me doing occasional ground work with international special forces groups. After that, I flew the Stealth Bomber, which also included all sorts of fun, non-flying extracurricular activities, and then Predator drones. I’ve worked undercover, and I’ve hunted (and found) snipers in a combat zone. All that experience in tactical and secret worlds gets poured into my novels—enough that the first three had to be reviewed by multiple security committees before publication.

I’ve had lots of kinds of edits, but never a security edit. Well. You certainly have a lot on your plate. Please tell us about your next project.

Wolf Soldier is a young adult fantasy set in a world first created for a 1980s Christian adventure simulation (similar to a role-playing game). The Keledan Assembly has stopped sending knights of the Lightraider Order into Tanelethar to rescue those oppressed by the dragons. By pulling back within their borders, they’ve let evil fester at the gate, and now it encroaches on the land. A new class of lightraider knights must train fast and set out across the mountain barrier to find a hidden portal before a full-scale invasion destroys their home.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

That sounds incredible! And thank you, James, for a fascinating interview.

To learn more about James and his books, please visit James’s website.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Dr. Craig von Buseck

Greetings from Marti Pieper in lovely Seneca, South Carolina, where April showers came in March this year! No April Fools here today as I introduce author, editor, and friend Dr. Craig von Buseck! Craig and I first met at the Florida Christian Writers Conference a number of years ago and have renewed our acquaintance at various conferences along the way. I know you’ll enjoy hearing from him.

Welcome, Craig! Please tell us about your featured book.

Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S Grant by Dr. Craig von Buseck
Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S Grant by Dr. Craig von Buseck

In the greatest victory of his life, Ulysses S. Grant overcame financial collapse and throat cancer to write an American classic and to care for his wife after his death. Read this inspiring true story in Victor! The Final Battle of Ulysses S. Grant, from Dr. Craig von Buseck.

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Deb DeArmond

Deb DeArmond
Deb DeArmond

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the honor of interviewing author, speaker, and relationship expert Deb DeArmond. Deb writes and speaks about family relationships, but her latest book . . . well, honk if you love the concept!

Welcome, Deb! Please tell us about your book Bumper Sticker Be-Attitudes.

Bumper Sticker Be-Attitudes is a humorous devotional built on the belief there are spiritual principles everywhere we look—if we open our eyes to the truth. From the bumper of the car in front of us to the fortune cookie after the Chow Mein, one-liners meant to entertain often hold a deeper meaning when seen through the eyes of Christ-followers.

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Jeanette Hanscome

Jeanette Hanscome
Jeanette Hanscome

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California, where I’m processing the wonderful time I had at the online West Coast Christian Writers Conference last month. I had the absolute joy of serving on the conference leadership team with my good friend Jeanette Hanscome—who is our lovely guest today! A multi-published author in a variety of genres, Jeanette has some exciting news.

Welcome, Jeanette! Please tell us about your new project.

I just signed a contract to write two novels for Annie’s Fiction as part of their Rose Cottage Book Club series. It’s work-for-hire, and Annie’s created the cast of characters and the story world, but I couldn’t be more thrilled. The series takes place on Nantucket. It centers around a book club, most of the characters are knitters, crocheters, and quilters, and one of them owns a bookstore. It’s a perfect fit for me. Getting this contract felt like confirmation that fiction is the right path for me right now. In a way it also felt like God’s way of saying, “You have my permission to write something fun.”

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Linda Goldfarb

Linda Goldfarb and Linda Gilden
Linda Goldfarb and Linda Gilden

Welcome Readers. Davalynn Spencer here, pleased to introduce today’s featured author, Linda Goldfarb and her book, LINKED® for Couples: Maximizing Heart Connections One Link at a Time, co-authored with fellow CAN member Linda Gilden.

Linda, please give us a quick overview of your book.

Hitting #1 across five separate Amazon categories upon release, LINKED® for Couples Quick Guide to Personalities is a communication shovel to help readers dig deep into their relationships, their hearts, how they think, and how they react to situations, both big and small.

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Winnie Griggs

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing Winnie Griggs, author of 25 novels, which have won awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award! Her novels have had a Western setting, both historical and contemporary, but her latest novel branches into a new genre for her—Amish fiction.

Welcome, Winnie! Please tell us about your book, Her Amish Wedding Quilt.

Spirited Greta’s been told to change or she’ll be a spinster. When her last hope for a husband chooses another, Greta pours her efforts into her quilts.

Widower Noah needs a new wife so when Greta offers to matchmake, he accepts. But no one seems right. Have they unexpectedly grown close?

Author Interviews

A Chat with CAN President Angela Breidenbach

Author and genealogist, Angela Breidenbach
CAN President Angela Breidenbach

February greetings from Marti Pieper, who is grateful to have had both power and water throughout this chilly month! I’m also grateful to reintroduce a familiar face to our CAN readers today. It belongs to our multitalented president, Angela Breidenbach. I first met Angie when we were both teaching at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I then had the privilege of working closely with her on the CAN newsletter for several years. I know you’ll enjoy learning more about her and her books.

Welcome, Angie! I’m so glad you’re with us today. Please tell us about your latest book.

The Mail-Order Standoff: Marriage plans put on hold in the Old West when four mail-order brides have second thoughts. How will their grooms win their trust?

This four-in-one book includes Right on Time by Angela Breidenbach. Could two people be less suited than an English gentleman and a Western gal who is used to giving the orders? From the wild Montana Territory to the refined Kentucky horse farms, can Timothy prove worthy of Tara’s heart?

Do you have an unfulfilled dream?

The Mail-Order Standoff
The Mail-Order Standoff by Angela Breidenbach and others

I do, but I’m constantly working toward them. Them—because as I achieve one, I move to the next on my list. Oh yes, I have a long list. Currently I’m close to graduating with my genealogical studies degree and specialty in English records. I’d like to add more specialties (halfway to Scottish records already) and take small professional tours on genealogical research visits to Scotland, England, and other countries. I’m also working toward having my screenplays produced on TV and big screen. I dream of writing movies that touch lives and of leaving a body of work. I’d also like to have an endless lap pool someday inside a heated sunroom. Why not, right? Who wants to walk out in the snow to swim? Some very big stretch dreams.

Especially when you live in Montana, as I know you do! What talents do you have aside from storytelling?

Music. I love singing and am learning the harp. I hope to use both of those talents in church and music therapy. I also really enjoy teaching/speaking on genealogy, writing, and historical topics.

You amaze me with all you fit into a day! Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?

I’ve had a variety of jobs from airlines to radio to heating company co-owner (still am, but no longer in the day-to-day). Every job I’ve had informs my writing as I create characters. Once I’m finished with my last few genealogy classes, I’ll take genealogy projects for clients starting late summer/fall 2021.

Anyone who follows you on social media knows the answer to this one: Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?

Muse, my fe-lion executive assistant, inspires a lot of humor. I share our Muse and Writer conversations on social media and my website. He also inspired An A-Muse-ing 2021 Calendar. We hope to work together more this year to produce A-Muse-ing Tales series in the genre of cat comedy.

Sounds purrfect! What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

Themes are a little harder to define because they’re not as interesting as the story world that reveals the deeper meaning. But the themes I tend toward are unique life experiences that reveal our life purpose and overcoming. For instance, I’ve written nonfiction in story form that deal with one specific characteristic like becoming a confident woman in Gems of Wisdom: The Treasure of Experience, and I’ve taken that same thing and built it into a character’s sense of not being good enough in the historical romance Right On Time (Mail-Order Standoff).

What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?

Writing is telling stories whether fiction, nonfiction, articles, screenwriting. The biggest thing to me is that as a writer, I don’t read one genre or write only one genre because I’m interested in so many different things. As much as the industry tries to box writers into brands, and we have to establish that for readers, but my writing interests are hugely varied.

I understand that well! What inspired you to write this book?

I love following obscure historical tidbits, then setting characters into those interesting events. This one is in 1883, the year my own grandfather was born. The time zones, as we know them today, did not exist. Train crashes killed thousands of people because clocks and watches were set to the sun at high noon at the nearest town. I was fascinated by how something so mundane and normal today changed the entire world my grandfather was born into. I wondered how something that seemed so small might actually have caused a huge shift in societal life. What would that be like? How would that affect families? Business? I was stunned how long it took for the time zones to be normalized, but how it immediately saved lives. Some of the smallest decisions have the biggest impact.

And what do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Change, though scary in the expectation, becomes an amazing opportunity. Change in hindsight becomes normal, and fear disappears as that change becomes normal life. Each time we conquer the fear of change, we gain confidence.

So true. So what was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

I’ve been in college for that genealogy degree. Writing while in college, while speaking at conferences, and while caring for my family was really an adventure in pushing myself and my capabilities.

And I know you did it with excellence. Please tell us about your next project.

Coming this summer, I’m excited to release my Queen of the Rockies series. It’s set in Helena, Montana, starting in 1889. Helena was a very modern and beautiful city in what was considered the wild west. I love this gorgeous series full of vivid characters and real history.

Muse and Writer will also release A-Muse-ing Tales, book 1, cat comedy for the whole family in time for Christmas.

Marti Pieper
Marti Pieper

To learn more about Angela Breidenbach, visit Angie’s website or Angie’s blog.

For His glory,

Marti Pieper

Marti’s website

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Kathy Ide

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in the Redwood State! Today I have the joy of interviewing multi-published author and professional editor Kathy Ide. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Kathy at writers’ conferences, especially when she served as director of Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the redwoods. Yes, I mentioned redwoods twice—read on to hear about Kathy’s redwood hobby—and to hear about her latest book as well!

Welcome, Kathy! Please tell us about your book, Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors.

Editing Secrets can help aspiring, beginning, or established authors polish their writing so it communicates clearly and has a powerful impact on readers. It contains a treasure trove of suggestions from best-selling authors whose books have touched the hearts and lives of readers around the world.

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Sarah Sundin

Davalynn Spencer here, pleased to introduce you to our regular host today, Sarah Sundin. It’s her turn for the spotlight, and what a light it is for her new book, When Twilight Breaks.

Sarah, tell us a little about this book.

Munich, 1938—Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to expose the tyranny in Nazi Germany. After brutality hits close, American graduate student Peter Lang uses his connections in the Nazi Party to feed information to Evelyn, pulling them deeper into danger as the world marches toward war.

Your titles are always so intriguing, drawing us into the lives of people impacted by WW2. What inspired you to write this particular book in your collection?

When we visited Ellis Island several years ago, I fed family names into their computer. I found a record of my grandfather’s trip from Hamburg back to New York after his junior year abroad in Munich. In 1936. I knew he’d studied in Germany—he was a professor of German—but it had never occurred to me that he’d studied in Nazi Germany. My novelist brain got to spinning. What was it like for Americans living in Hitler’s Germany? And—of course—what sort of trouble could I get my characters in?

Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Carol Grace Stratton

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing a former Californian, now a Michigander—Carol Grace Stratton is one of our newest CAN members and a multi-published author of fiction as well as a nonfiction book for frequent movers. And she has a fun dream career . . .

Welcome, Carol! Please tell us about your novel, Deep End of the Lake.

Ally has it all: an upcoming wedding, new writing gig, and two great kids. But when life turns upside-down with a rebellious daughter, shaky job, and shakier engagement, she leans on her newfound faith, learning if you’re in the deep end of the lake, you’d better learn how to swim.