Simple Little Words
by C.J. Darlington
John Perrodin Interview
"Research can tie your hands if you don't know when to stop. My signal that I've got to hit the keyboard is when I feel least like buckling down and writing." -- John Perrodin
By night, John Perrodin dutifully dashes off book proposals and scribbles out sample chapters while simultaneously searching for a willing, responsive publisher. During the day he assists Jerry B. Jenkins with research and writing projects and is also the Senior Editor for the Christian Writers Guild. His first novel is The Tattooed Rats. It was published in 2006 and co-authored by Jerry B. Jenkins. The next book in the Renegade Spirit Trilogy, Demon's Bluff, came out in Spring 2007. The third book, Seclusion Point, should be in bookstores in January 2008. The book, Simple Little Words: What You Say Can Change a Life, co-authored with Michelle Cox, will be released in April 2008.
C.J.: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
John: I’ve always loved writing stories and letters. My mom taught me to write “thank yous” very young and I just went on from there.
Were books a big part of your life growing up? If so, what books would you say inspired your imagination the most?
I have a picture of myself as a first grader. For a library summer reading program I read 200 books. Of course, the Hardy Boys were favorites, also the military Dave Dawson books, C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. In other words, virtually any books I could pick up.
For almost 12 years you worked with Focus on the Family before moving to the Christian Writer’s Guild. How did you come to be involved with Focus on the Family?
I sent off a letter asking Dr. Dobson if maybe he (and God) might want me to work for FOF. I started my career at Focus answering mail for Dr. Dobson.
What was the number one thing you learned from working with Dr. Dobson?
To check my facts. Getting the details right was always a top priority.
Tell us about your latest project, The Renegade Spirit trilogy for young adults. When did you get the idea for this series, and how did you come to co-author them with Jerry Jenkins?
I was intrigued by Jerry’s SOON series, (Soon, Silenced, and Shadowed) and pitched him on the possibility of creating a similar series for teens. He liked the idea and we created a proposal. Integrity (now Thomas Nelson) picked up the series which morphed into the Renegade Spirit trilogy. The publishers picked the first two book titles, The Tattooed Rats and Demon’s Bluff. I named the final book, Seclusion Point. It comes out in Feb. 2008.
How does your co-authorship work? Does one of you come up with plots while the other writes, or do you trade off chapters?
Jerry has been an incredible encouragement to me because he lets me “go for it.” We’ll talk out general story arc and characters. Then he lets me run with it. Of course, he’s always there for questions and he edits each book personally.
What’s been the hardest part about writing the books?
Making sure that the internal timelines and the various subplots work together. It’s a lot harder than it looks!
How about the most fun?
I am delighted by the opportunity to slip in some deeper insights into a story. For example, lessons about the power of prayer, learning to trust God with our lives, and so on. I don’t want to “preach” but do want young readers to think.
When you start a book, do you find you always have a message in mind, or does that come about as you write the story?
Often I’ll discover concepts as I write. As I’ve learned from Jerry, you have to be open to where your characters lead you.
As the personal research assistant to Jerry, you’ve no doubt uncovered many amazing stories that never made it into a book. What’s something you learned in your research that you’ll never forget.
When I was assisting Jerry with research for Glorious Appearing I was thrilled to help mine various passages from Scripture that spoke to the essence and person of Jesus Christ. I loved the way Jerry wove those lines into the book showing how the Word is truly living and active – and sharper than any sword.
Often writers get bogged down in their research. How do you know when you have enough information and it’s time to just start writing?
Research can tie your hands if you don’t know when to stop. My signal that I’ve got to hit the keyboard is when I feel least like buckling down and writing. When I’m at the peak of procrastination I figure that’s the moment I’d better start writing. Otherwise I probably never will.
The Christian Writers Guild is a labor of love for so many including the amazing staff led by Kerma Murray. Jerry purchased the Guild years ago and has been striving to make it the premier correspondence course for writers who are serious about getting published. Jerry’s goal is to raise the writing bar for everyone, starting with those authors who claim the name of Christ. We have courses for young writers as well as adults at every stage of their career. We’re about to launch the Craftsman Course which will allow novelists to take their work to the next level of professionalism. Your readers could visit www.christianwritersguild.com for more details on the Guild.
What’s the most inspiring success story you’ve heard from a writer thus far?
Jan Watson was the winner of our first novel contest. Her book, Troublesome Creek, is extremely touching. Sadly, Jan’s husband passed away soon after she was announced the grand prize winner. Her boundless faith even in her pain uplifted all of us at the Guild.
As someone who has contact with so many new authors, what would you say are the three most common misconceptions aspiring writers have, especially those hoping to write for the Christian market?
First, that writing is easy. I’ve talked with people who think that they can scribble down a first draft and walk away with a contract at a Writers Conference. It takes time, years, to move from enthusiastic writer to professional writer.
Second, you must re-write repeatedly! I think the key to being a pro is being able to edit your own work. That can be extremely difficult.
Third, that you’re going to get rich writing. If that’s your goal then you probably should find something better to do with your time.
What would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
I have many more ideas than time to write them. However, I’d love to write a story that entwines personal family events into a novel. Haven’t worked out the details yet though.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?
That the physical act of writing would be so exhausting. As Jerry has said, it’s like you’ve been digging a ditch for eight hours. I don’t think the typical reader who plucks a book off the shelf has any idea of the effort that went into creating the beautiful volume they hold in their hands.
What’s next for you book-wise?
I’m thrilled to be working with friend and co-author Michelle Cox on Simple Little Words from Honor Books (David C. Cook). It releases in April 2008 and includes a collection of the most powerful stories of encouragement I’ve ever seen. We were blessed to have Jerry Jenkins write the foreword and one of our endorsers is Tim LaHaye. Needless to say, we’re excited! For those who can’t wait until spring, you can enjoy Michelle’s first delightful book, Mothers Who Made a Difference, right now.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
That my wife, Sue, and I have seven children. Our oldest is 18 and youngest is 1. And that when I grow up I’d like to be a lifeguard.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love taking long walks with Sue, reading, swimming laps, and playing with and talking to my children.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Generic Rice Krispies with milk.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Spinach, milk, and apples
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
Cleaning and organizing the garage.
When was the last time you cried?
At the last Marty Goetz concert I attended.
Three words that best describe you:
Creative, bizarre, amusing.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Marty Goetz: Psalm Enchanted Evening
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
Thank you for reading. If you have comments, please write to me. I’m convinced that the health of our nation is in direct proportion to the number of thinking readers in our population. I write for young adult readers because I want to encourage them to think for themselves and discover what God has planned for their lives. With three teens myself I’ve got my own built-in focus group. They’re wonderful for helping me decide which projects are worth pursuing next.
the Trailer for Demon's Bluff:
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.