Stormi: Tell me about yourself.
Frank: With only a 12th grade education, much of my schooling came from the School of Hard Knocks. A wide range of blue collar jobs, good and tragic life experiences, wise and foolish decisions—all of who He made me to be—goes into my fiction. I glorify God by being the best Frank Creed I can be, in everything I do. I’m someone who realized that God’s will for my life is that I live at the intersection of my God given talents, and passion. Every day. God then blessed me with the faith to act upon the literary gift, with which I’m supposed to be glorifying Him. I’m very team-minded, so I founded The Lost Genre Guild, to get all the like-minded Biblical speculative artists into one place. I’m just a guy who’s pointing up.
Stormi: Speculative fiction is sort of a new genre in the Christian world, what made you decide to try and write in this genre?
Frank: I was just discussing this with TL Hines in e-mail last week. As a kid I really enjoyed fiction of any form. Lewis and Tolkien wrote my then-favorite novels. When our mother would take my sister and I into a Christian bookstore, we went to find the Chronicles of Narnia—or more books like them. There weren’t any.
Finally, Stephen Lawhead’s Empyrion came out in 1984, then Peretti’s Darkness novels in 1989. I thought this was really going to break out Biblical speculative fiction, but we had to wait another 10 years for Ted Dekker.
Biblical Spec-Fic is finally coming around with some names like Donita Paul, Bryan Davis, Karen Hancock, Sharon Hinck. It is a lesson in patience, but fans will start hearing these names.
To discover what is finally out-there in Biblical speculative fiction, check Christian Fandom and the Latest in Spec newsletter. I was quite pleased to find Jeff Gerke’s site, wherethemapends. com and his book list on the left sidebar; it is a pretty comprehensive survey of spec-fic. I’ve met many of these authors listed here while networking on the Web. For those who aren’t familiar with Christian or Biblical speculative fiction, there is an excellent and detailed definition at wikipedia.
Christians who are fans of fantasy, science fiction and spiritual thrillers have been starved by the big houses in the publishing industry. Readers have stopped looking the religion/ spirituality shelves for Biblical speculative fiction, but this is the kind story I’ve got to tell. I’ve got to trust God’s more important than the big Christian Fiction publishers.
Stormi: )What would you say to those who sort of snub this genre and say that it shouldn’t be considered Christian fiction?
Frank: This is much like your last question, because it has to do with the chips on the shoulders of Biblical speculative fiction readers. People like L. Ron Hubbard, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke have been using speculative fiction to portray their own worldviews. They recognized what makes speculative fiction such a powerful genre for a worldview fiction is its total creativity of setting and characters. We Christians have been missing out on a great opportunity to present the Christian worldview. Many Christians see Christian science-fiction as a contradiction in terms, most of fantasy has magic, and they don’t realize that horror is supernatural thriller, stories with angels and God.
For some reason our subculture is slow to recognize things that can be used for ministry. Look how long it took Christian pop & rock music to break in. Many Christians in the 1970s said rock music was of Satan. The same is true for any another vehicle of fiction: the role-playing game. The few Christian role-playing games, both tabletop and computer, tend to be very preachy and are not popular with gamers. I do hope that trend changes when Mike Roop’s Flashpoint: the RPG comes out in 2008, and gamers can play a fun, quality action-paced tabletop role-playing game in the Christian setting. The RPG is a great tool for discipleship and even evangelism because the fiction is interactive, not passive as are novels and movies.
Stormi: Your newest book is called Flashpoint, why don’t you tell me about it. What do you like most about it? How did you come up with the characters?
Frank: Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground is set in the dark Post-Modern Humanistic 2036 Chicago Metroplex. Calamity Kid and e-girl fearlessly walk the valley of death, because He is with them. But they’ll need every molecule of the re-formed faith to face down peacekeepers, gangers, One-State Neros, and fallen angels.
I did not realize until I was well into Flashpoint, but almost all of its characters reflect aspects of yours truly at different points of my spiritual sojourn. e-girl (and the relationship with her brother) are based on my own sister Lydia , and that part’s a big advantage because the old adage reads “write what you know”.
The thing I like best about Flashpoint is its characters. Seeing the world through Calamity Kid’s sarcastic jaded eyes is much fun to write. Many people expect a book about a one world government oppressing Christians to be depressing, but readers are surprised by how upbeat Flashpoint is. The trick was because of Calamity Kid’s sarcastic first-person PoV. When Stephen Macon of yellow30scifi.com reviewed Flashpoint he said “I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a long, long time”.
Stormi: Are you working on anything new right now?
Frank: Yeah, this interview, ya’ big silly. It’s brand-new!
I’m also consulting with Mike Roop as he creates Flashpoint: The Role-Playing Game, and about halfway through War of Attrition: Book Two of the Underground, both due out in 2008. I’m also starting a company with novelist Caprice Hokstad, and Cynthia MacKinnon, editor-in-chief of The Writers Café press, called The Finishers. It’s a manuscript evaluation service in which we’ll do an exhaustive critique, edit, and proof, finishing a manuscript so it’s ready for market. I have been doing critiques for writers for the past couple of years and the wait list became so long that I had to put a cap on it. You know how word gets out in this subculture! Besides writing fiction, I also feel called to help others. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I am not better at helping. However, I don’t even pretend to be skilled at editing or proofreading which is why I called upon two of the best I’ve found in the business to help out. If you are interested, check out www.thefinishers.biz after the new year. Since we first made the informal announcement in my newsletter, The Finishers already has bookings into June 2008—but there is still room for more!
Something else the publisher encouraged me to do this year is a bi-monthly newsletter. I agreed, as long as it wasn’t “all about me.” So, we have this great resource that features member profiles, a rpg column as well as a column about issues a Christian writer faces, industry news, writing tips, fan fiction, etc. and a new writing contest each issue (winners are published in an end of the year anthology). We’ve received some great feedback and the subscription list grows bigger with every issue. Polly Harris, a reader I have very little knowledge about, described The Underground newsletter as quite possibly the best she’d ever received. There is a url for sign-up if anyone is interested (www.booksoftheunderground.com). The most recent edition came out a week or two ago.
With all these irons in the fire something else that’s new is high blood pressure. We are praying that I’ll finally be able to earn a modest income with writing endeavors, including my fiction, and get my crippled butt off the factory floor.