My first introduction to the author I am interviewing today occurred when his debut novel, The Eden Conflict (God’s Warriors Book 1), was free on Amazon. I was drawn to the plot and that it covered several of the genres I love to read, fantasy, spiritual warfare, angels and demons all under another genre of edgy, Christian, speculative fiction.
In my review of this book, I stated,
One thrilling tale packed with action, suspense, the supernatural, the angelic, the demonic, deception, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, His sovereignty, spiritual warfare, and interspersed throughout a faith building and edifying account of the reality of spiritual warfare and the power of prayer.
Now when an author delivers this kind of content, I am very curious as to what makes him tick as an author, especially a new one! So I hope you enjoy having Peter as my guest as he tells us his journey to published author, what fueled his imagination for The Eden Conflict and how he developed it.
Now let me introduce you to Peter Way! Thanks for stopping by Peter! Let’s start by you telling us a little about Peter Way, the person.
Part nerd, part geek, part sportsperson, and all Christian. What a mix I am! I grew up on superheroes, sci-fi, and Bible stories. I think I have always known God and Jesus, but it wasn’t until age eleven that I gave my life to them. Unlike your average nerd, I’m not uncoordinated and have played sport since about age eight. I was twelve when I took up basketball and have played it on and off ever since. I got married in 1998 and have two beautiful daughters. Life was pretty good and pretty normal until mid-2010. The short story is that I was (mis)diagnosed with Melanoma, given twelve months to live and had chemo for twelve months. Then a mistake was found, and I was then treated for Lymphoma for six months. I was then told that I was ok, but not considered clear until 5 years have passed. I say mistake because that’s what they tell me it was, but I know it as my miracle, which I (and my friends) had prayed for. That experience added together with my marriage falling apart, changed me. In 2012, I was asked to move out and started to learn how to live again. I had been on so much pain killers that I could only sleep most of the time. I even had to learn to walk, run, jump etc all over again (I should mention that happened during the last six months of 2011). In the three and a half years since then, I have played basketball again, finished writing The Eden Conflict and self-published it and found a new love. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and I look forward to seeing what else the Lord will bless me with.
Now let’s talk about your writing.
What inspired you to become an author?
I read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness when I was a teenager and loved it. I’ve looked for similar books and couldn’t find any. I said to a friend, back in 2000, maybe I need to write those books as there isn’t anyone else doing it. I wasn’t serious at the time but did have a play with writing anyway. By 2004, I was up to chapter 50 and after a few friends read what I had done they encouraged me to keep going.
You are a new author. How did you come to construct your novel? Authors tend to use one of the following methods:
-by extensively plotting it out (plotter),
-or as it came to you (pantser, that you write by the seat of your pants) or was it a bit of both?
At first it was pantser, it was as if I was writing it as I would read a book. That was until I got a fair way in and started to lose track of where I was. Then I went back over everything and wrote down what happened and what I wanted to happen next. It was more like a chart of every plot line. In the back of my mind, I always had a rough idea of where I was going but it wasn’t until I created the chart of plot lines that I wrote it down.
What obstacles did you encounter in writing The Eden Conflict? How did you overcome these?
The lack of info on Angels that was Biblically sound was my biggest obstacle. I did a lot of research and most of what I found I couldn’t use because it wasn’t backed up in the Bible or was the exact opposite of what the Bible said. I just kept researching and researching until I found info that helped. And even then, I ended up writing what I thought was right, without having any real evidence to back it up. Every time I did write something I wasn’t sure about, I checked it with someone who was proficient in that field. I asked my Doctor questions, I asked a friend who is a scientist and I checked Theology with my minister friends.
How has writing and being an author impacted your relationship with Jesus Christ and vice versa?
It has strengthened it. Writing something that, at times, is so intimate with His nature, had me overwhelmed. I would get so excited at times that I was physically shaking and so emotional at others that tears were running down my face. When that happened, I had to stop and relax a bit before I could continue.
Do you have a favourite genre that you read?
Action/Adventure mostly. But I do have a lot of Fantasy novels too.
What have you learned about becoming an author?
That it’s not easy. It’s not just about writing a book. You write, you re-write, you edit, you send it out to be edited, you then re-write what the editor suggests and then get it edited again, if you’re lucky you then try to get it published but usually your back to re-writing again, eventually you send off submissions to publishers who all knock you back (for me that was mainly because it was so big), then you look into self-publishing and realise you can’t afford it, then you look at print on demand and once you find someone you think you can trust, you try it. Then you have to market it and if you spend all your time on that, you have no time to write the next book. Eventually, if you really are an author at heart, you decide it was all worth it and start to write your next book.
You write well. Have you always found this to be an easy feat? What have you done to improve your writing? Writing course, NaNoWriMo?
Thank you, I appreciate that. Especially since I haven’t done any writing courses. I have read a lot of books. I think that has helped my writing style, I know what I like to read and try to write like that. I also do quite a bit of re-writing to make sure that I’m happy with what I have written.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I first started out, in 2000, I was working in IT and Telecommunications. Then I chose to be a home dad in 2006 and write in my spare time, which wasn’t much. These days, I’m trying to be a full-time author so I’m either playing PlayStation games, reading or doing housework when I’m not writing.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I read an interview with Clive Cussler, in which he said something like if you want to write in a certain style, read a lot of books in that style.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
If you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is writing, then you are a writer. Keep trying, don’t give up. If you have a passion for it, nothing anyone says will stop you from doing it.
Did any specific author(s) motivate you to begin writing?
More like the opposite. As I said earlier, it was a lack of authors in this style that motivated me to start writing. Authors like Frank Peretti, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Anne Rice, James Patterson, JK Rowling and quite a few more, have influenced me and my writing style.
Thanks for discussing your writing and your experiece in publishing your novel. Now let’s talk about The Eden Conflict.
How long did it take you to write The Eden Conflict?
Eight years overall, but I wasn’t actually serious at first. The first year I only wrote one chapter.
Did you expect that you would get 5-star reviews so far? I know there are 2 on Amazon, even if they are the only ones. That is a good start!
Thanks. No, I didn’t expect it. I remember when I saw the first one, I have no idea who he is or where he lives, but I was totally over the moon!
It is quite a feat for a debut author to achieve a full-length novel of between 300-400 pages, but yours comes in at an impressive 532 pages! Was this your original intention? If not, how did this happen?
I know what I like to read, and most of those books are 200,000 words plus. So my aim was to get close to that if I could and I hit the 190,000-word mark on the first draft – which was about 510 pages. After editing, trying to separate it into three books and then combining it back into one, and editing again, it added another twenty pages.
Not having any previous experience as an author, did you have any help/mentoring in the development of the plot, characters, flow, biblical depiction of angel/demons, or the development of the supernatural, and spiritual aspects of TEC?
Not really. Most of that just came from me and my beliefs or interpretations from Bible passages, or research I did. However, I did have friends reading it from time to time and they did give me help on some aspects, mostly editing. One friend did help more than the others. He acted as my sounding board and critique at times.
You have stated that you based TEC on Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness (TPD). What was it about that book that inspired you to create your novel in a similar fashion?
The whole depiction of angels and demons being around us all the time. His descriptions of how the humans were influenced, by both angels and demons has always stuck with me. I see our world being very similar and I wanted to show that through my words so that others could experience this world in that way.
When I read Peretti’s TPD and its sequel Piercing The Darkness, I remember reading an article by a Christian apologist (cannot remember his name, it was 20 yrs ago!) who repudiated Peretti’s doctrine in the novels that the more prayer received by God, the more permission given to the angels by God to deal with demonic forces and assist their human charges. Peretti’s response was that he developed the angels like this to encourage Christians to be more active in prayer concerning their lives as spiritual warfare is real and we have the victory in Christ. What are your thoughts on this?
I agree with Peretti, but I don’t think that the prayers were always specific enough, or that the angels always acted on behalf of God. I researched a lot about this and tried to make sure that I followed Biblical doctrine. Angels don’t act without God’s approval or do anything that is not Christ centered. But the Bible does say in Hebrews chapter 1 that the angels will obey the ‘heirs of salvation’, being us according to Galatians 3:29. We have to make sure that what we say is Christ-centered or the angels will not listen, idle and wicked talk will ‘turn them off’. So it’s actually more than spiritual warfare, it is everyday life. According to Joshua 1:8, our words should always reflect ‘the book of the law’. The way that I have used prayer and the actions of the angels is how I think we should be doing it every day ourselves.
I stated in my review that I found the appendices very helpful and encouraged readers to read these after they finish TEC. Did you include these just for the readers knowledge or was it for the reason I stated in my review, that due to some controversial topics covered in the novel and differing Christian opinions on these, that it was to quell any criticism of the way you handled these issues?
The later mostly and partly to impart knowledge. As you said, even in Christian circles there are differing opinions on these topics and they can be considered controversial. I wanted to make sure that the readers understood where I stand, what I used and why. The map was something I drew more for myself and thought that others may appreciate it. In a lot of ways, this information became my fall back guide as I wrote. If I wasn’t sure on something, I referred back to this information to see if I was contradicting myself or going against Biblical doctrine. In some cases, it was information that I found really interesting and couldn’t put in the story as such, so I put it here instead.
How long did it take you to complete the research needed for this novel? Any difficulties you experienced conducting this? It has definitely paid off and you have used this research well.
Thanks. I didn’t keep track of my research hours. In most cases, I performed the research as I needed it. If I struck difficulties finding something, I either asked for help or dropped it and moved to a different approach or idea. That didn’t happen too often but when it did the new idea usually blossomed.
Have you experienced any criticism regarding how or why you have created the spiritual warfare issues, the angelic and demonic hierarchy structure, moving the Tree of Life, having a fruit from this Tree being stolen, portals used to access the physical and supernatural worlds, demons dissolving into a mist before being sucked into the vortex and taken to the Abyss, or any other issue? I ask this as novels or this genre tend to bring out many critical attitudes and opinions of Christians (sadly!)?
I can honestly say I’ve been expecting some but haven’t received it yet. I’ve had a few non-Christian friends read it, those that bothered to comment just said it was an interesting story.
What are your thoughts on what I mentioned in my review about some Christian readers resenting full prayer being included in a novel or explicit details of witnessing to a non-believing character? I applaud you for portraying both these issues as you have. It might just be the final encouragement for a non-believer who is searching for God and this convincing them to accept Christ. I guess those who do not like these inclusions need to realise that Christian fiction is not just about the Christian reader.
I’m surprised to hear it really. For a book like this, I think the full prayers are necessary. As for the witnessing/conversion, I was once told that, years ago, the prerequisite for a novel to be called Christian, was that a conversion had to be in it. That was one of the reasons I added it, but mostly for the hopes that it would help non-Christians see a logical approach using the passages I did, and maybe they would pray the prayer too. I actually prayed over those sections, asking the Spirit to guide me in what I said and how I said it.
A lot of authors struggle to write realistic fight scenes. You have written your fight/sword scenes very convincingly. Did you have some instruction on how to do this, or were able to write them as you saw it in your imagination?
I wrote them how I saw them in my mind. As if it was a movie being played out in my head.
Are any of the plot structures concerning the corrupt business deals relating to the resorts based on any real life situations?
No, they’re not. I tried to think of things that could be realistic and went with that. I must admit that I struggled with a lot of the demonic scenes and the bad guys in general because I don’t think that way.
In TEC, who is your favourite angelic character? Human character? Who was the hardest to develop?
Angelic – Itzal. He was fun and he’s an angel on the outside, he’s not really accepted by the other angels because he embraces too many human traits. But this actually makes him the best of the angels to me. I really like Daniel too.
Human – That’s kind of hard to pick. Glen, as he is partly based on myself and his relationship with Max is very familiar to me. Max as he is the friend we all want to have. And Jack… he is a complex and unfolding character that I am afraid I’m going to have to torment a bit in future books and that is going to be fun to write.
The hardest to develop… Cain. The bad guy of the piece. As I mentioned previously, I struggle with the evil characters and this demon is evil on top of evil. He’s ambitious and cunning and well, I don’t even fully know where I’m going with him. But he will be around for a long time so I’m going to have to work that out LOL!
Any of the human characters based on yourself? I get an impression that Glen or Jack could be!
Both of them are in some aspects. Glen has more of my Christian traits and ethics while Jack is kind of who I want to be. A little more exciting and adventurous than I am in real life.
Without giving away any spoilers, what can we expect from the next book in the God’s Warrior’s series?
The main plot is about Phillip, the kidnapped minister and how the different characters are searching for him. The trouble is I don’t want to slow the action down at all so you can expect some twists and turns to occur which will keep everyone busy. Oh, and even though it is a stand-alone novel (each one in the series will be) there are other ties from book one that need to be tied up… like the stolen fruit. I will also be starting the plot for book three and setting up other things that may well carry on over the whole series.
Other than the God’s Warrior Series, is there a new project in the works?
Yes. Many. I get ideas all the time and some of them will be incorporated into the God’s Warriors Series and others just can’t be. At the moment, I am around twenty chapters into book two but have put that on hold. Just for something different, I’m converting a friend’s screenplay called Engolfed into a novel. I edited it for him and asked if I could do this and he said yes. It’s about golf so it’s completely different. Apart from that, I have a Vampire story (who doesn’t) that I started that takes a whole new approach and is Christian related, a superhero story, a spy story and something that might be scary. Most of them are mainly just concepts, so only a chapter or two has been done. They may turn into something more one day but for now they’re just fun. The other main project I have started and will continue is rather ambitious. I want to re-write the Bible as a fiction story. Tell the stories more as the characters who are in them. I have started with Zacharias and the birth of John the Baptist, the New Testament basically. I read a similar undertaking a few years ago by Walter Wangerin called The Book of God and while it was good, there was a lot left out too. You can read a sample from that on my website and blog site in ‘Other Writing’, it’s called The Incarnate Deity.
What take home message do you want readers of the TEC to embrace?
Non-Christians – God is real, Jesus died and rose again… the whole Christian message.
Christians – Spiritual Warfare is happening and you are a part of it whether you know it or not.
Anything else you would like to say about TEC, God Warriors series or being an author?
It’s a series, not a trilogy, although each book will have links to the next it doesn’t mean that three books will be one storyline. I love writing and loved writing TEC. I will be back on book two after the current project is complete. If you want to be kept up to date with that, then follow my blog or Facebook page.
Where can readers find you?
Any closing comments?
Thanks for this opportunity, I’m so very happy that you enjoyed the book and are looking forward to book 2. I’m excited now to finish my current project, Engolfed, and get back to writing book 2.
Well, Peter, I really enjoyed your interview and I thank you for giving us a comprehensive insight how you created The Eden Conflict. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I look forward to your future works, especially book 2 of God’s Warriors. You are one author to follow and I pray more readers will agree with me as well. One quality I appreciate about your as an author is your passion for writing and to not write anything that is not backed up by the Bible. That is definitely honouring God and not man and this is what Christian fiction should be about. Thank you for achieving this standard.