Wow, wow, wow. Friends, have I got an interview for you! Today’s guest is my long-time friend, author, speaker, and Christian Communicators grad, Cindy Sproles. Cindy and I met years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and she’s been a dear friend ever since. You may know Cindy as director of Writer’s Advance Boot Camp or through ChristianDevotions.us or Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, but now I introduce her a master storyteller of unforgettable fiction. I’ve never read a book like her new novel, Mercy’s Rain. Never.
There were many important aspects to discuss related to this unusual book, and with having a 5th Tuesday this month, this was the perfect time to do a two-part interview. Be sure to leave a comment for Cindy and you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of Mercy’s Rain. Then return next week for Part 2.Â And yes, if you post comments both weeks, you get TWO entries! (Be sure to return April 7 to see if you’re the winner.)
Okay, let’s get started. Welcome Cindy! You have a long career writing and teaching writing. Congratulations on your debut novel! Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
Thanks for having me. Iâ€™m a true born and raised mountain girl. Raised in the mountains of East Tennessee. I started writing seriously in my mid-40s. I always knew I wanted to write but I never afforded myself the privilege. I had a family, two jobs . . . there just didnâ€™t seem to be time for frivolous ventures. But God piqued my interest, then called me. I listened, attended my first conference and the rest is history.
I know we didn’t talk about this, Cindy, but I want to include the back cover blurb for Mercy’s Rain so readers can get insight into the overall story. I hope you don’t mind.Â
Mercy Roller was raised by a twisted father who wore the collar of a Pastor, and chose to be Jesus, judge, and jury, by his own appointment. Abused, broken and bitter, Mercy lifts the hand that takes the Pastorâ€™s life. In one swift action, she becomes what she despises most about the Pastor. Now she seeks redemption. Can the unconditional love of a mountain preacher and his friends, guide Mercy to find peace?
Having read your book, I’m dying to know how you came up with the idea for Mercyâ€™s Rain.
Funny what goes through your mind at 3 a.m. I had the title for Mercyâ€™s Rain long before I had the story. But one morning I couldnâ€™t sleep so I flipped on the television and got one of the old time, down home, spittinâ€™ and hollerinâ€™ preachers. It made me laugh, but I thought, â€śWouldnâ€™t he make a great bad guy?â€ť I turned the channel and landed on a documentary (which to this day I still do not know the title of) but it was on sexual abuse in children under 7 years of age. It broke my heart. The more I thought on it the more I realized the perfect storm had formed. Mercy Roller was born.
You wear so many hats, how do you protect your personal writing time?
Sometimes itâ€™s hard. Between the ministry of Christian Devotions, the devotions that pour in, project management for LPC and editing, it gets testy. But Iâ€™ve learned, you make the time. And I do. When I write on my own, itâ€™s restful for me. I do wear many hats, and I find myself not always having the sympathy for writers who whine they just donâ€™t have time. If you love to write, and you know that is your calling â€“ and you are serious — you make the time to be obedient and write. Folks make time for everything else. This is no exception. (Iâ€™m on my soapbox, arenâ€™t I? Sorry.)
Was the transition from non-fiction to fiction an easy or challenging one for you?
It wasnâ€™t hard, but it was different. I wanted to do fiction right and so I studied the fiction writers I love, Alton Gansky, Steven James, Ann Tatlock, Yvonne Lehman, Nicholas Sparks, DiAnn Mills, Francine Rivers. These folks are masters of the art. Iâ€™ve taken their classes at conferences, sucked in everything they taught, and it paid off. It was an adjustment to write fiction. I fell into all the first time fiction writers blunders, but I quickly learned. So it wasnâ€™t hard, but it took practice. I still feel like I need practice. Fiction is a fun place to go to let go of all your inner fears, wild ideas, and imaginary friends. Just put them in a story.
Why did you choose the particular theme in Mercyâ€™s Rain? What do you want your readers to gain from the book?
First off, Mercyâ€™s Rain was not geared to the Christian Market. I wrote it to the secular market. There were a number of things I wanted to accomplish:
1) I wanted to thread the underlying idea of redemption and its availability to everyone. The Christian worldâ€™s television evangelists falling to sin and bearing it in a very public manner gave me an easy â€śinâ€ť to the secular market. That market of readers tend to call Christians hypocrites, so why not capitalize on their already established ideas? By their standards, who doesnâ€™t love to hate a preacher?
2) I wanted to address two difficult subjects. The first to the Christian market: Worship your God Almighty, not your preacher. Iâ€™ve seen so many congregations crumble because they put their faith in the man, not God. I wanted to address this issue. Let me be clear. I donâ€™t have a vendetta against ministers. I went to Bible College and married a minister. But I do want people to understand that preachers are men . . . men who can be equally as tempted, who can fall to sin, just like everyone else. I also want folks to know that just because they are preachers doesnâ€™t mean they canâ€™t have the same redemption you and I get. Itâ€™s a balance. And one that can easily tip either direction.
The other topic was one of child abuse. I was just broken-hearted to watch that documentary that morning and see infants murdered from the cruelty of their abusers. Maybe I could address it with a deep passion through the eyes of my character Mercy Roller. We see and hear about these types of abuse on a daily basis, but we choose to look the other way. I donâ€™t want you to look the other way. I want you to be aware that these horrible things happen and itâ€™s up to us to help find a way to stop it. Iâ€™ve had a lot of folks blast me over this subject. â€śHow could someone who calls themselves a Christian be warped enough to write such trash?â€ť My case in point. We donâ€™t want to see this horrible state of affairs.
My husband and I watched a show called In an Instant this week. It was a horrible story of spousal abuse. Half way through the show I was in tears. This stuff REALLY happens. It wasnâ€™t a figment of this poor womanâ€™s imagination. She was nearly killed. So call me warped if you like, but Christian or not, we have to open our eyes to this and become active in working together with authorities, doctors, and support groups, to find legal and appropriate ways to combat abuse to both women and children.
3) Finally, I wanted the world to understand that Christians ask God the same questions â€“ Why do you allow these horrible things to happen? But it is through our deeper relationship with Him that we see God is present in every situation. That’s what sets us apart. Faith, trust in the higher power of Christ. God doesnâ€™t create the sin, but He is ever present, even when we do not see the reasons why. I feel sure God cries at the atrocities some can concoct.
My goodness, Cindy, I can’t imagine how difficult it was to go through the emotion of writing Mercy’s Rain. Thank you for your faithfulness to bring such difficult subjects to the forefront for Christian readers.
Friends, I hope you’ll return next week to see the conclusion of this interview as we see more of the hows and whys Cindy wrote Mercy’s Rain as she did.
AND there’ll be a special gift for everyone who returns next week–you don’t want to miss it!
Thanks for Tweeting!
I’m sorry but Twitter and/or ClickToTweet are on the blink this morning, so here’s a Tweet you can copy and paste into Twitter, if you would, please. Thank you!
You’ve never read a novel like Cindy Sproles’ Mercy’s Rain! @CindyDevoted #BookGiveaway @VondaSkelton #MustRead http://bit.ly/1ELi2tB
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