Christian Romantic Suspense with a thread of Women’s Fiction
A pastor with a past uses his underworld connections to try and save the child of the woman he wronged many years ago.
Pastor Vince Steegle thought his destructive beginnings were ancient history, but the ramifications of his prior choices just walked in the door of his church. Is Romans 8:28 really true? Can God really make all things good? Or is Vince's past just too ugly?
After the death of her much-beloved husband, Cassandra Whitaker is looking for security for her children. One, a teen on the cusp of womanhood. The other, a young boy struggling with the effects of autism. But there are those who seek to destroy them. Can Cassandra keep her family safe, or must she flee from evil?
TIP: H ow do you get inspiration for your stories (plot, characters, etc.)
Connie: My inspirations for novels include a hodge-podge of experiences. The first book I wrote, One Among Men, about a woman who lived in an all-male dorm at a major state university, was inspired by my semester running an all-male dorm as a grad student at the age of twenty-four. It was an experience that needed to be written about through the eyes of a new-Christian whose faith was often mocked by those around her.
In contrast, my current release, Flee from Evil, was originally inspired by a question I asked myself almost twenty years ago while watching the movie, Ransom. I wondered, “How could this story be turned into a Christian romance?” The answers swirled in my head since that time, taking many twists and turns, until it formed into something that doesn’t resemble the movie in the least. Though the story was inspired by Hollywood, many of the characters came from templates in my own life: The spiritually wise and generous hair dresser. The tattoo-laden, Harley riding elder of the church. The crusty retired dirt-track race car driver with a soft—and well protected—heart. And last, but not least, the sweet ten-year-old boy struggling with autism who brings peace with a single word (that’s my son!). It was a lot of fun writing these very colorful real-life people into my stories.
TIP: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Because I am such a music fan, each of my books has a different “muse.” Third Day was my first muse, and will always be dear to my heart for that reason. David Crowder (both old and new bands) was the muse for Flee from Evil. Others include NEEDTOBREATHE, Tenth Avenue North, and for my next novella coming out as part of an anthology next summer, the smoky sounds of Lauren Daigle.
3. TIP: Do you read much? Who are your favorite authors? Do you read across genres?
Excerpt (From the middle of Chapter One)
Cassandra stopped at the closed sanctuary door. The minister’s voice murmured from the other side. Not the familiar rasp of the senior pastor, Pastor John, whom she’d grown accustomed to as a child attending Water’s Edge Community Church. Something about the tone gave her gooseflesh. Smooth and silky—like a scam artist’s voice, selling a bill of goods she didn’t need to buy. Boy, she was predisposed not to like this guy. Was it because her mother wanted to fix them up?
A greeter wished her a good morning as he opened the door. If only Mom didn’t have to sit near the front—probably to ogle the minister she’d been raving about for years now.
Cassandra accepted the Bible from the gentleman in the back, and walked down the center aisle as the pastor’s voice praised his Creator. Too embarrassed at coming in late, she focused on straightening her pencil skirt and finding her family in the second-row pew.
But that voice …
So familiar, it drew out memories she’d hidden deep—dark memories.
This time more than gooseflesh erupted from her skin. Her knees threatened to buckle. She didn’t want to confirm her fears, but she had to. She pulled her gaze from the carpeted floor, up the steps of the altar, ascending from the loafers, crisp jeans, tidy polo, dark goatee … into the eyes of …
Whoa! That was worse than the knife that nearly killed him so many years ago. Vince knew the congregation noticed too. They shifted in their seats waiting for him to continue what had formerly been an unblemished sermon.
The woman looked up and stole his sanity.
Man, she still looked good. Those auburn curls cascading down her shoulders. But it was more than that. Her green eyes blazed as she caught sight of him in the pulpit. He thought she might take the rest of the aisle and hammer him dead.
Instead, she froze. Jaw clenched. Hands balled. She stepped back like she was going to flee the enemy, until a young girl called out to her.
“Mom,” the dark-haired teen whispered forcefully. “We’re right here.”
Cass thawed. Vince could almost see the icicles breaking off her shoulders and hitting the ground. She managed a weak smile, but her eyes were filled with something else. Probably the memories he’d given her. Memories he wished he could cherish, but he’d ruined them. Instead, they held themes of betrayal and hurt.
I am forgiven. He had to say that to himself in a way he could believe it. He shuffled through his sermon notes and saw those words scribbled on the sides. When had he written them?
A peace washed over him, but the cloud still hung over his head. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …
He sensed he was headed to that valley again. A different path this time, but shadow and death lurked all the same.
Infinite Characters, a writers',group blog