Greetings from Marti Pieper! It’s May, and that means we’re already having temperatures in the 80s where I live in Mount Dora, Florida. My friend and fellow author C. Kevin Thompson knows that, because he’s basically my neighbor and fellow Lake County resident. Kevin is also an ordained minister whose background no doubt assists him in his present position as an assistant high school principal. As you may know, Kevin has posted many of our author interviews, but this time, we get to turn the questions around and point them at him instead.
Welcome back to the CAN blog, Kevin! Tell us about your book, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen (a Blake Meyer Thriller – Book 4).
At this stage of the story, Blake laments his past, how it is infiltrating his present, and how the future may irreparably harm his family. He has a lead on his family’s whereabouts, but they are still captives. Pawns in a deadly game of vengeance. And the plan to release the contagion that threatens to infect America with its own version of the Black Death is being modified by those responsible, making it harder to defend.
Thriller indeed! What inspired you to write this book?
The title, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, is a modified title taken from a line in the novel From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. In Hardy’s work, to signify a crazy time that made little sense, the clocks were striking thirteen (I know this phrase is also used in the opening line of George Orwell’s classic 1984, but Hardy’s work came out about 90 years earlier, if memory serves).
In my book, things are even crazier at this point in the story. Blake is finding his enemies to be his friends, and his friends to be his enemies. The “bad guys” have a soul, and the “good guys” seem to not have one. As the readers progress through the series, they will see this phenomenon in one very particular character. The reader will understand why the character did what has been done. The reader won’t condone it, mind you (nor should they), but it shows how the sin of this life affects others, especially those who have experienced sin at the hands of others. This is one of the main points/threads of the series: Not everybody who is evil is evil for evil’s sake. Their vengeful recourse might be all they know because they’ve never been shown the love of Christ.
I love the way you weave an inspirational thread through your work. How has God used the message of your book in your own life?
When I came to this series, at the very beginning, the main, overarching topic to cover was answering this question: “What is true peace?” We hear about peace in the news all the time. We watch people protest in the name of peace. We see wars waged in the name of peace, which seems silly when you truly think about it. It’s because we unfortunately believe in the political equation of “security equals peace,” or vice-versa. But in the devil’s playground known as Planet Earth, where sin runs rampant, how can we ever believe such things as war for the sake of conquest, killing in the name of religion, protesting that turns into a bloody confrontation, name-calling and political backstabbing (the likes of which occurs daily on our own Capitol Hill, more so than ever these days) will ever bring about the peace mentioned in Scripture and by our Lord Jesus?
Yet despite His admonitions, we try all these things nevertheless. And as the world turns, it seems peace becomes more elusive with each rotation. So as I have worked on this story, God has brought other books across my path to help me solidify the message that will become clear at the end of the saga. Books like Brian Zahnd’s Postcards from Babylon: The American Church in Exile, is one of them I’m reading right now. The quote at the beginning of each book in the series by C. S. Lewis is another. This series and Brian’s book now have me formulating my own work of nonfiction on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
What was the hardest scene to write in this book?
I don’t want to give away anything or write “SPOILER ALERT!” first, then divulge the information. That never works. People read it anyway. Then, their reading is spoiled. So, I’ll tell you that it is in chapter 52 toward the end of the book. Once you read it, it should become clear. Now, as for the first three books, the hardest scene to write was the exchange between Blake and Arina Filipov in chapter 70 of Triple Time (Book 2). Her background and why she became an assassin broke my heart.
So, broken heart and all, why do you love writing?
It started as a kind of therapy, and still is, even though it’s now become more like a second job. Some people like working in the garden. Others like to fish. I like to write. I began my “therapy” writing Sunday school devotions for a little weekly paper that came out through our denomination at the time. Then I branched out into some articles that appeared in some weekly Sunday school papers. Afterwards, I started writing articles for a missions magazine and had an old seminary paper for a theology class published in a pastor’s magazine at the urging of my professor.
I then wrote an article, at the urging of a local elementary school principal, on the issue of Halloween when we lived in Iowa. Man, did that stir up Satan’s hornet nest. Flushed out exactly what it intended to flush out: All the practicing witches, Wiccans, etc., in that part of the country and how Halloween is a religious holiday, too, just to a different crowd than most. I had people tell me they had no idea there were so many or how much they venerated Halloween. You should have seen the replies to the editor’s section the next Sunday. I’m sure they didn’t print them all. I even got phone calls from California, North Carolina, and Canada, calling me every name in the book or asking me to come “debate” the issues raised in the article. It was pretty amazing what God did through that article. We got the school board’s policy changed, just like the principal and I hoped would happen.
Why do you write thrillers, Kevin?
I’m a guy who loves good stories. Can be action/adventure, thrillers, mysteries, even dramas. However, much of what was being written within Christian fiction at the time I was maturing in the faith was Janette Oke and. . . . well, Janette Oke. Then, Amish people became a thing. We lived in Western New York at the time. We even lived next to an Amish family for a short time. I didn’t realize they had so much drama in their lives! But many of the stories I hear about in Christian fiction involve the Pennsylvania Dutch country, so maybe the Amish in Western New York are more reclusive than most and live rather dull lives by comparison.
So, what was a guy like me to do? Venture off into secular fiction, of course. Peter Benchley, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, etc., etc. If I wanted something to read, I had to go there (and so did many of my Christian brothers). Sad, huh? That made me long for similar stories with a more Christian worldview and a cleaner page so if my grandkids wanted to read it someday, I wouldn’t blush (and neither would they).
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
How hard it is to get a story from the recesses of one’s brain to a printed copy someone can hold in their hand. The man-hours for one book (and I’m talking about just the author’s time, not all the other folks who play a part along the way), coupled with advertising costs, time spent on social media, and more make many authors long for centuries long past, when writing a book or two a year, having it come out in print only, with no Facebook or Twitter, would be such a wonderful way to write (although I’m not sure writing with a feather dipped in ink is a good tradeoff). Writers just want their work appreciated. And that’s hard sometimes when it needs to sell for ninety-nine cents or be free in order to drum up more readers.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
As you mentioned, I am an ordained minister, and I served several churches earlier in life before moving back to Florida. I now presently work as an assistant principal at a high school. Being a minister, I always look at life through a biblical lens (as much as humanly possible, that is, but I find it gets easier the older you get). So, works like the Sermon on the Mount book I’m gathering information for are one influenced by my former life/job as well as the core truths I weave into my fiction.
I would say my present job is coming into play with a young adult series I’m working on in my spare time (although I’m having to put it on hold while I finish the Blake Meyer series). It’s set in middle school, where I spent over half of my educational time. I’m very familiar with that scene, and from what my critique group tells me, it shows. They love it so far.
Tell us about your next project.
A Pulse of Time, Book 5 in this series, is my current WIP (work in progress). It will continue the story and lead the reader into the final installment and conclusion of this series. I tell people to think of the TV show 24 with Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, then think of that series with a Christian twist, and you have an idea of my Blake Meyer Thriller series. I also plan to try my hand at writing the pilot teleplay for this series once it’s finished.
Sounds great. Kevin, thank you so much for sharing your heart and your stories with our readers today!
For His glory,