I recently reviewed Messages by John Michael Hileman. He also agreed to an interview! Both the review and interview were first published on www.christianfictionbookreview.com. Be sure to visit the website for even more reviews and author interviews!
Christian Fiction Book Reviews: You’ve written two novels that have been published so far. Was the writing process pretty much the same for both books, or did you find it different the second time?
John Michael Hileman: Most of VRIN took place in a Fantasy world of my own creation. It’s pretty easy to write about a world that doesn’t exist. No one can say, “Hey! There aren’t any stairs in front of the Blah Blah Blah museum!” When you’re writing about a man hunting for a dirty bomb in the streets of Boston, you need to have a working knowledge of Boston and the surrounding area. Since part of my childhood was in the suburbs of Boston, I have a good idea of how things work. The internet filled in the blanks.
CFBR: What drew you to the speculative fiction genre as a writer?
JMH: I like being able to create scenes no one has ever created before. Speculative fiction offers a canvas for that kind of out of the box thinking. Plus, alternate realities allow you to examine the principles and precepts of God from another perspective.
CFBR: What has the publishing process been like for you?
JMH: Lots and lots of waiting. Writing a book is merely the beginning of a vast journey. If you set foot on the road, prepare your heart to enjoy the walk, because there aren’t’ many rest stops on the way.
CFBR: What’s been the most difficult part of the writing/publishing process for you?
JMH: Overcoming doubt. When I started as a writer, I wanted success, and I feared failure. God has shown me that success is not in the quantity of people who love you, but in the quality of people who love you. It is fair to say, my readers have given me more than I could ever give them. I no longer wonder if I was meant to write, because I have a stack of e-mails from dear friends, who remind me how important what I do is.
Just last night I got a letter from a concerned mother who asked whether or not my latest novel would transform the heart of her Atheist son. I shared this insight. A stonecutter was once asked, “which strike of the hammer broke the stone?” The stonecutter replied, “The first. The last. And every one in between.” I don’t know if my book will be the strike that breaks her sons hard heart, but knowing that I am partnering with someone of such great character, gives value to the work I put in to writing it.
CFBR: There has been the suggestion that Christian authors should not write any sort of fantasy/science fiction type novels. What are your thoughts on the topic?
JMH: I don’t think most Christian outright object to fantasy and science fiction. It is more of a cautious apprehension–at least towards science fiction. As Christians we must guard our minds against the enemy of our souls. He is continually pleading his case through all forms of media. He wants to sow seeds of doubt in our minds, and turn us away from the truth. Since truth is so important, most Christians stick to stories that are grounded in reality. Most science fiction starts with a premise that is a lie, like: in thousands of years mankind will take to the stars and meet other life forms. This premise is silly and fanciful as Gene Roddenberry wrote it. But Christian authors tend to put Biblical truths into everything they write. As soon as you turn Star Trek into an Allegory, you’ve lost your Christian readers. They cannot take the story as pure fiction, because you’ve injected the real God into it.
As for Fantasy, that is more of a witchcraft/magic issue. God tells us to avoid such things. And yet, most fantasy stories have some form of it mentioned.
I believe science fiction and fantasy are like firearms. They are only as dangerous as the person wielding them. I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful police carry firearms.
CFBR: What are your favorite books? The ones you read over and over.
JMH: I did most of my heavy reading before I was right with the Lord. The only books I read over and over–lately– are mine.
CFBR: When you write, do you prefer background music or quiet?
JMH: I like it quiet. I’m easily distracted.
CFBR: Any words of wisdom for aspiring speculative fiction authors?
JMH: Tread carefully. You will be accountable for your actions.
CFBR: Do you have any other novels on the horizon that we should be watching for?
JMH: Yes I do. But I can’t tell you about it. It’s super duper top level secret stuff. All I can say is, I’ve been working on it for the past eight years, and it has one overriding theme: the holiness of God.
CFBR: We will be looking forward to it! Thanks for the interview John!