Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A View from Mike Dellosso's Window - FRANTIC! and a GIVE AWAY!!

Mike Dellosso is the author of 5 novels of suspense. His latest, Frantic, just released February 7 and is already getting great reviews. Mike lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and four daughters. He blogs regularly about matters of faith and life at www.mikedellosso.wordpress.com. Keep up to date with what's going on in his world by "liking" his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mikedellosso.

I want to welcome Mike to my Window as he shares his heart with everyone about his latest (and greatest!) novel yet! Mike has a really tender heart toward God, and he has been obedient to write a story that was different than he imagined it would be. Please give him a warm welcome!

Marny suffers emotional scars from an abusive step-dad, and that proves to be a real stumbling block to faith and the chance to stand up for someone else suffering abuse.

Esther is a peripheral victim, and trying to protect her brother almost costs her life – yet her faith remains strong.

Betrayal has deeply affected all of the characters in the story, and it proves to be an insurmountable obstacle to faith for some and a place of coming to faith for others. Do you think that evil is ultimately rooted in betrayal and lies?

Actually I don’t. I believe the root of all evil and sin is pride. It was Satan’s original sin (he wanted to be like God) and it was what he tempted Adam and Eve with (that they could be like God). From pride grows betrayal and lies.

Think about it, what is the ultimate purpose of betrayal and lies? What motivates them? Serving my own interests, pleasing myself, doing it my way. Protecting my image or reputation or ego.

Also, what was the first change that occurred in Adam and Eve after they ate of the forbidden tree? They realized they were naked and they were ashamed. They were suddenly aware of Self and their pride pushed aside their innocence.

There turns out to be a sort of double layer of evil in the story that adds a great dimension of suspense to the overall effect on the reader. What inspired the idea? How was the idea for the overall story inspired?

I’ll start with the second part of the question first. The story was inspired by a young man I had as a patient. My full-time job is in homecare physical therapy and a couple years ago I worked with a young man with cerebral palsy. Despite the challenges he had to overcome every day, despite his handicaps and disabilities, despite the fact that when I started working on him he couldn’t even walk, he never spoke a harsh word, never appeared frustrated or angry, and never once complained. He was patient, kind, sweet, gentle, and loving. And he blessed me. I just knew he had to be a hero in one of my stories. That was the seed that began the plotting.

As for the double layer of evil, honestly, that just kind of evolved as I wrote the story. I plot on the fly, staying a few steps ahead of where I am in the story in real time. So I was writing along and—bam—there it was, this extra layer of evil that inserted itself into the story. I know non-writers think it sounds crazy when writers talk about the story writing itself or the characters doing something unexpected but it does happen. This extra layer of evil showed up out of nowhere and caught me by surprise, It actually put me in a funk for a few days because I didn’t quite know what to do with it. It wasn’t where I saw the story going.

I had a decision to make. Either scrap the new direction the story was taking because it wasn’t in my plans, wasn’t what I had plotted, or let the story go where it wanted to go, take the path of least resistance, if you will. After some deliberation and nail-biting I decided to give in and let the story have control (there’s a spiritual implication in there too). And I’m glad I did because I think in the end it adds depth the story didn’t have before.

You added some very realistic emotional turmoil in the lives of every character. I found it easier to relate to them because of their struggles and became invested in the outcome of their trial. Was this difficult to create? Did you find yourself emotionally drained while writing the story?

I always get emotionally drained while writing a story. I think one of the hardest things to deal with is living in two worlds at once. The real world where my family resides and I work and have real responsibilities and the fictional world I’ve created. Sometimes the two overlap but I try my hardest to keep them separate. I draw so much from my own emotional blueprint when creating characters that I often feel as though I’m going through whatever it is they’re going through.

Is it difficult? In a way, yes, because it’s draining and takes up mental space, but in another way it isn’t because I only have to look inside myself to tap into the emotional storehouse where I find the hurts and struggles and fears and triumphs I give my characters. There’s a trick to it, though. You have to be completely honest with yourself, no holds barred, no secrets, no shame. And that’s something I think a lot of people have a difficult time with.

The emotional element in the story made the bad guy particularly evil! How difficult was this to create? What research was required to build these characters into someone believable?

The only research was to study myself and human nature. It’s a dangerous undertaking and must be considered with care and humility. I take creating villains seriously because it means I must tap into the area of my soul I usually keep behind bars.

Let’s face it, all of us have the potential for heinous acts, for malice and hate and vengeance and but for the grace of God we’d give into that potential. When creating a villain I have to open the window and only take a peek into that realm of evil that lurks on the other side of grace. It’s a sensitive thing and I don’t take it lightly.

I do have my limit, though, my boundaries. There are certain places I won’t allow myself to go. I’ve never written in anything but very broad and blurred strokes about sexual crimes, especially against women. I just won’t tread on that ground, not even lightly.

One thing I do try to do, though, is allow the villains to be real people, to have struggles of their own, hurts, marred pasts. I want readers to see villains as not just cold-hearted killers, but as people, lost souls in need of a savior just like the rest of us. Jesus loves them just as much as he loves us. And they are just as redeemable as we are.

Who was the character you most closely identified with? Why?

Marny, definitely. I’ve always had a rather low self-esteem, never really saw myself as someone who could accomplish much, sort of trapped by my own insecurities and limitations. To see him break those chains and become the man he had to become was very inspiring.

His struggle with the “curse” that shadowed him is no different than my struggle with stuttering for most of my life (and continues to be a struggle). While Esther proved to be his “hero” sweeping in to blow those storm clouds away, my “hero” was (and is) my wife.

Stepping out of our lives and risking our own comfort and safety is something that is rare in many Christians’ lives. Do you hope that believers’ faith will be challenged by your story? Challenged to invest their lives in the lives of others?

I hope every one of my stories challenge people. Yes, I hope readers are challenged to step out in faith, a simple faith, like that of a child. There’s so much talk about great faith and having enough faith or not enough faith . . . I don’t think it’s so much an issue of the amount of faith one has but rather the object of the faith: Jesus. If we could all just grasp that it’s not about us (that goes back to that betrayal and lies thing, doesn’t it?) and our faith; it’s about Him and His power, His love, His grace, His will.

Let go of yourself. You’re holding on too tight. [He] had learned a long time ago that life was an untamed beast and death even more wild and unruly.” (P. 257)

“[He] then understood that trust required selfless surrender; faith was about doing God’s will, not his own.” (p. 258)

Trust is so hard to regain after it has been betrayed. Satan uses this betrayal to create a road block to real, intimate faith in Christ. You create a believable struggle in your characters’ lives in regard to trust. What do you hope readers take-away will be from this struggle? The take-away from the novel as a whole?

People will fail you every time. Circumstances will fail you. But Jesus never will. He is the object of our faith, our trust. He will never let us down, never fail, always endure. When it’s about Him and His will, His glory, faith can move mountains because it’s not our faith moving the mountain, it’s Jesus. It’s about Him, it always has been and always will be. We need to get ourselves out of the way and let him go to work.

What is your favorite part of the story? Why?

My favorite part is the conclusion. I’m a sap for a happy ending and this story has one of the happiest. And that last line by William just cracks me up. It’s so much like him, so honest, so innocent.

How has God used this story in your personal faith walk?

Like most people I lack trust, I lose faith. I worry and fret and devise my own plans in case God doesn’t come through. William taught me to look heavenward, to set aside my own ambitions and plans and focus on Jesus and His will, His power, His love.

What closing words of encouragement would you like to share with your readers?

Building 429 has a song “Where I Belong” that I consider an anthem for myself and every Christian. The chorus goes like this:

“All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong.”

A powerful reminder that we are temporary residents, put here to fulfill a purpose: to glorify God and spread his message of love and hope and salvation throughout the world. We can all do our part and remember that when life gets hard (and it surely will) it’s only for a time and then we’ll be home.

Frantic hits the store shelves TODAY! But you can win a FREE copy - sent to you by the author - by leaving a comment on this post and "liking" Mike's Facebook page! DON'T miss this opportunity!

My Review:

"[He] then understood that trust required selfless surrender; faith was about doing God's will, not his own." (p. 258)

A man seeks to protect a boy at any cost – taking life violently and randomly when he perceives that the protection he offers is jeopardized. Another man seeks vengeance for a personal betrayal in the dark persona of a maniacal serial killer. Yet another seeks to outrun what he perceives to be a lifelong curse upon his every relationship. In the midst of all of the darkness and depravity there is a child who exercises a faith that seems almost mystical. The truth of that faith is revealed through a series of fiery trials that causes the main characters to face their own mortality time and time again. When one man submits his will in total surrender to the One who has the entire situation in His hands – that’s when things begin to change!

Mike Delloso has written a powerful thriller that will keep the reader glued to the pages! The characters – even the bad guys – are so well-developed that their struggles are very real and personal. The reader is never certain who will survive the tale, and there are so many twists and turns in the plot that you feel almost dizzy trying to read fast enough to find out what happens next!

Delloso has touched the deepest recesses of the human soul in this story, and everyone who reads it will have to step away and examine their own faith in the midst of whatever trial they face. He stays true to his passion for a well-told story and his faith that places every written word on the page. God has honored his obedience with a great thriller tale, and Frantic will reach into your heart and mind in a fresh new way!


KKAT said...

would love to win the new book! I already follow his FB page

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I would love to win a copy of his newest book.
I follow him on facebook.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Noah Arsenault said...

I'd love to win a copy of Frantic! Thanks!

Granny said...

So excited to have just finished Scream and discovered this author. Now I would love to win FRANTIC!

TracyLynn said...

Liked Mike Dellosso's Facebook page! Downloaded my copy of Scream today. Already have read several chapters. I have a feeling I’ll be buying all of his books eventually!
Would be nice if I were to win Frantic so I'd have a little extra cash to download all of his other titles! =)