The following guest post is by Creston Mapes, author of the inspirational thrillers Sky Zone, Poison Town, and Fear Has a Name. He has written for some of the world’s most recognized corporations, colleges and ministries, and has ghost-written seven non-fiction titles. His early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.
The following excerpts are reprinted with his permission from the novel Fear Has a Name.
The husky man lurking outside the front door of Pamela Crittendon’s house carried a black leather satchel, like a doctor’s bag.
His face was hardened and pasty, with tiny eyes and a thatch of curly red hair. He wore all black, from his T-shirt and leather vest to his jeans and cowboy boots. And he stood uncomfortably close to the door.
The doorbell rang a third time.
Pamela’s head buzzed.
He clamped the doorknob. “Open!”
The hardware made a sickening racket.
“Get out of here!” Her stomach turned. “I’m calling the police!”
She rushed for the phone in the kitchen.
Pamela halted, turned toward the noise at the door, and gawked in horror as the stranger bent over and drove his shoulder—the size of a medicine ball—into the door, splintering the wood frame.
• • •
After the home invasion, from which Pamela and her children escaped, the following conversation ensued between Pamela and her husband, reporter Jack Crittendon.
“I want us to get a gun,” Pamela said.
Jack’s face fell.
“How else will we defend ourselves if he comes back?”
Jack’s mouth sealed and his eyes narrowed.
“We can’t count on a patrol car coming by here once every few days,” she said.
He still didn’t speak.
“Your dad had a gun,” Pamela said. “Mine has one.”
“Does that make it safe?”
“Safe? Let’s talk about safe! There’ll be nothing left to keep safe if he comes back!”
Pamela waited, resolute.
“Look,” he finally said, “his coming back today raises the stakes, I admit it. I just think that before we buy a gun and learn to use it—which we can certainly do—we need to ask ourselves if that’s the best choice, the wisest choice. Is it what God wants? If it is, great; we’ll do it.”
Pamela’s head dropped into her hands. She didn’t want to talk about what God wanted. Not now. She knew what she needed and that was all there was to it. Her mind and body and spirit felt utterly spent, and the day was only half over.
“I understand you felt helpless,” Jack said. “We just need to make sure we both agree completely before we decide to keep a weapon in this house that can take someone’s life . . .”
• • •
In my book, Fear Has a Name, there’s been a home invasion. Time reveals that the young wife and mother in the book, Pamela Crittendon, is being stalked by a former classmate. She wants a gun in the house to defend herself and her children in case the fiend returns. Her husband feels they need to discuss some important issues — would it be safe to have a gun with two girls in the house; would you be willing to use the gun and shoot to kill; is this something God wants for us?
Gripping fiction can cause readers to think about things from a perspective they never had before, and perhaps even explore the issues in greater depth once they’ve put the book down.
One of my intentions when writing fiction is to cause readers to stop and think, and to contemplate controversial issues they may have never come to terms with before. All six of my books have reflected what God was doing in my life at the time of writing.
One of the biggest questions I was wrestling with when I wrote Fear Has a Name was, why do terrible things happen to good people, especially Christians? Why does God allow such trials for His children? This was burdening me. Here is a quote I found that we inserted at the beginning of Fear Has a Name, reflecting on those same weighty questions:
“It’s a very long story, but the short version is this:
I realized that I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith
with the facts of life . . . I could no longer explain how there can be a good and
all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things.
For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery
and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a
good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it.
Bart D. Ehrman
Indeed, are we Christians supposed to skim over unfairness and atrocities — purposefully squelching any thought of them? How do we reconcile events like 9-11, the Holocaust, the ISIS beheadings, and things like home invasions, kidnappings, and random rampages?
I still don’t have a concrete answer. These things grieve me. My heart mourns for the people impacted. But, somewhere deep down in my soul, I know my Maker reigns. And that became the overarching theme of Fear Has a Name: “No matter what — even the unthinkable — God is in control. He is bigger. Mightier. On His throne. And I can trust Him; I must trust Him. Who else can I turn to in my distress, but the Maker of heaven and earth?”
We ended the book with several thought-provoking statements that I found in my research:
“Evil is a departure from the way things ought to be.
But it could not be a departure from the way things ought to be unless
there is a way things ought to be. If there is a way things ought to be,
then there is a design plan for how things ought to be.
And if there is such a design plan, then there is a designer.”
R. Douglas Geivett
“Thus it is not like a child that I believe in Christ and confess him.
My hosanna has come forth from the crucible of doubt.”
I wonder if a fictional story has ever had a profound or life-changing impact on you? If so, we would love to hear from you — on that, or any other thoughts or opinions this blog may have brought to mind.