The INSPYs Advisory Board Announces the 2016 Longlists

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For the INSPY Awards, change was the word as we began 2016.

To help simplify our nomination process, we made some adjustments to our awards program. To that end, instead of publicizing our long list of nominations as they poured in, the Advisory Board kept the list private since the method of nomination involved a process of popular vote. The number of books that received the most nominations (the top 15 from each category) came out as the winners, which then determined the long lists.  

After some behind-the-scene delays, today we are thrilled to announce the results from those votes. From the lists below, the Advisory Board will be narrowing these respective lists down to five books per category which will become our 2016 short lists. From there, the same judging process and practices will follow.

Grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy browsing through the books that YOU nominated, propelling them into “phase two.”

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense:

  1. Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz (Prism Book Group)
  2. Moments of Truth by Sandra D. Bricker (Bling! Romance)
  3. Together with You by Victoria Bylin (Bethany House)
  4. Anna’s Healing by Vannetta Chapman (Harvest House)
  5. Legitimate Lies by Julie B. Cosgrove (Prism Book Group)
  6. The End Begins by Sara Davison (Ashberry Lane)
  7. No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason (Revell)
  8. London Tides by Carla Laureano (David. C. Cook)
  9. To Dance with Dolphins by Bonnie Leon (Ashberry Lane)
  10. Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl (Bethany House)
  11. The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer (Zondervan)
  12. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt (Howard)
  13. A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade (Bethany House)
  14. The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House)
  15. Her Brother’s Keeper by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

Debut Fiction Longlist:

  1. A Light in Bailey’s Harbor by Bethany Baker (Mantle Rock Publishing)
  2. The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham (Vinspire Publishing)
  3. Whitewashed by Amy Blake (Mantle Rock)
  4. To Soar on Eagle’s Wings by Renee Blare (Prism Book Group)
  5. Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan (Vinspire Publishing)
  6. Jaded by Varina Denman (David C. Cook)
  7. Blood of a Stone by Jeanne Gassman (Tuscany Press)
  8. A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)
  9. Love’s Rescue by Christine Johnson (Revell)
  10. Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Bethany House)
  11. Cavernous by Monica Mynk (Mantle Rock)
  12. Broken Dolls by Tyrolin Puxty (Curiosity Quills)
  13. The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea (Whitefire Publishing)
  14. Finding Mia by Dianne J. Wilson (Harbourlight)

General Fiction Longlist:

  1. Hidden Storms by Nancy Shew Bolton (Prism Book Group)
  2. A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson)
  3. A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner (Kregel)
  4. The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (WaterBrook Press)
  5. Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale House Publishers)
  6. Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green (River North)
  7. Tea & Crumples by Summer Kinard (Light Messages Publishing)
  8. The Dog that Saved Stewart Coolidge by Jim Kraus (FaithWords)
  9. The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem (Howard Books)
  10. The Road to Terminus by Catherine Leggitt (Mountainview Books)
  11. Water From My Heart by Charles Martin (Center Street)
  12. Chapel Springs Survival by Ane Mulligan (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
  13. The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson)
  14. The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson)
  15. Final Grace for Reverend G by RJ Thesman (CrossRiver Media)

Historical Romance Longlist:

  1. A Light in Bailey’s Harbor by Bethany Baker (Mantle Rock)
  2. The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (Waterbrook Press)
  3. A Thousand Shall Fall by Andrea Boeshaar (Kregel)
  4. Not by Sight by Kate Breslin (Bethany House)
  5. The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall (Whitaker House)
  6. The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide (Ashberry Lane)
  7. The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz (Revell)
  8. Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep (Shiloh Run Press)
  9. Where Two Rivers Meet by Londa Hayden (Tate Publishing)
  10. Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund (Waterbrook Press)
  11. A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House)
  12. Guardians of the Heart by Loree Lough (Whitaker House)
  13. The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea (Whitefire Publishers)
  14. Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin (Revell)
  15. Promise to Keep by Elizabeth Byler Younts (Howard Books)

Literature for Young Adults Longlist:

  1. Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren (Blink)
  2. Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black (WaterBrook Press)
  3. A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)
  4. Lightning by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Revell)
  5. Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon (Blink)
  6. The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker (Tyndale)
  7. The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson)
  8. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson)
  9. See No Evil by Mary Hamilton (HopeSprings Books)
  10. The Sound of the Stones by Beth Hammond (eLectio Publishing)
  11. An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund (Zondervan)
  12. Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman (Bethany House)
  13. Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman (Bethany House)
  14. 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia Toney (Write Integrity Press)
  15. Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson)

Mystery / Thriller Longlist:

  1. The Last Con by Zachary Bartels (Thomas Nelson)
  2. Whitewashed by Amy Blake (Mantle Rock)
  3. Gone without a Trace by Patricia Bradley (Revell)
  4. Murder Freshly Baked by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan)
  5. Deadly Doll by Brooke Cox (Mantle Rock Publishing)
  6. A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker (Center Street)
  7. Honor at Stake by Declan Finn (Eternal Press)
  8. Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Revell)
  9. Taken by Dee Henderson (Bethany House)
  10. Falcon by Ronie Kendig (Shiloh Run Press)
  11. Where Hope Dwells by Elizabeth Ludwig (Guideposts)
  12. Desperate Measures by Sandra Orchard (Revell)
  13. The Bones will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson)
  14. Shattered Trust by Chris Richards (Prism Book Group)
  15. Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr (Kregel)

Speculative Fiction Longlist:

  1. The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry (Kregel)
  2. Heir of Hope by Morgan L. Busse (Enclave Publishing)
  3. The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House)
  4. Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan (Vinspire)
  5. The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey (Thomas Nelson)
  6. Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry (Howard Books)
  7. The Sound of Stones by Beth Hammond (eLectio Publishing)
  8. Embers by Ronie Kendig (Enclave Publishing)
  9. The King’s Scrolls by Jaye L Knight (Living Sword Publishers)
  10. The Sword and the Song by C.E. Laureano (Nav Press)
  11. Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin (Enclave)
  12. Cavernous by Monica Mynk (Mantle Rock)
  13. Found and Lost by Amanda G. Stevens (David C. Cook)
  14. Take and Give by Amanda G. Stevens (David C. Cook)

…and there you have the 2016 INSPYs longlists.

We’d like to congratulate all of the nominated authors and thank all of the bloggers and readers who put forth their favorite reads of 2015.

We’re ready to get to work and find the top five in each of these categories.

2015 INSPY Award Winners

After our panel of judges careful consideration, the INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2015 INSPY Award Winners. Below are the seven winning novels in their respective categories and a statement from our judges on the reason why they felt it was worth the award…

Book - Miracle in a Dry SeasonDebut: Miracle in a Dry Season (Bethany House) by Sarah Loudin Thomas: 
We chose Miracle in a Dry Season not only because of the talent of the author, but because it is a unique and engaging story. A refreshing tale of miracles, love, and laughter set in the 1950s, Sarah Loudin Thomas pens an intriguing take based around the miracle of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Through the story, characters – led primarily by a male character, Casewell, and events we gain a deeper understanding of faith and what it means to embrace the gifts and blessings God has given us.
Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense: Meant to Be Mine (Bethany House) by Becky Wade: Book - Meant to be Mine

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade is the epitome of Christian romance. The chemistry between Ty and Celia is fabulous, and we could feel the sparks in every interaction between them! While the romance is spectacular, this book has so much more to offer. Beautifully written, it is an emotional experience in the best way. Wade’s descriptions of the characters brought them to life, and their relational, emotional, and spiritual journeys rang true. The other four novels in this category are wonderful, but Meant To Be Mine’s excellence is unable to be denied.

 

saving amelieGeneral Fiction: Saving Amelie (Tyndale) by Cathy Gohlke: 

What a challenge, to pick one winner from five fabulous titles including Biblical, historical and contemporary fiction. We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2015 INSPY Award for General Fiction is Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke, which impressed us all with its complex characters, fascinating historical detail, and bold yet subtle Christian message. The story is set in Germany in the early days of World War II, and plot centres on rescuing the deaf Amelie, from her father and from a regime which prized “perfection” over the sanctity of life. The characters face danger, hardship and uncertainty over the course of this thought-provoking and sometimes harrowing read. We were particularly impressed with the sensitive way Gohlke showed how God can use ordinary people in the bleakest of circumstances.

Book - Mark of DistinctionHistorical Romance: Mark of Distinction (Tyndale) by Jessica Dotta: 

We chose Mark of Distinction because it exemplifies the historical romance genre and confronts unique spiritual themes. Jessica Dotta has woven a story with a captivating setting and characters. The writing style and mystery of the plot draws the reader from the beginning into a Victorian society of restraint, secrets, and consequences. At its center is the theme of full surrender and trust in God. With complex characters and a unique voice, the story unfolds with unexpected twists and romance.

Book - Storm SirenLiterature for Young Adult: Storm Siren (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber:

Our panel decided to choose Storm Siren as the winner for the YA category. Nym deals with insecurities about her elemental powers and wondering why she was born with such a curse. This makes Nym relatable to young women all over the world and from every generation – we have all dealt with insecurities at some point in their lives. To see Nym have to come to terms with how she was created and to use those powers for the greater good shows tremendous character growth. Another reason we chose Storm Siren was because of the amazing and magical world that Mary Weber created. World building is one of the first things in a Fantasy novel that draws you into the story. Oh…and who doesn’t love a map inside their book!Book - A.D. 30

Mystery/Thriller: A.D. 30 (Center Street) by Ted Dekker:

A.D. 30 is a fast-paced adventure that keeps you turning the pages until the very end. Ted Dekker delivers a powerful, faith-filled story that brims with perils – each with their own kind of mystery and suspense, struggles, and most importantly hope. Dekker takes us on a journey to Jesus through the eyes of the daughter of Maviah, a gentile and an outcast, readers rediscover the message of Yeshua, experiencing it as never before. Dekker masterfully conveys the depth of God’s love for us — a knowledge we often hold in our heads, but fail to carry in our hearts. Warring kingdoms, power-thirsty adversaries, and fickle rulers are only a few of the obstacles in Maviah’s journey that keep the reader flipping pages. Whether she will succeed in her quest is a mystery. An uplifting and simple message, encased in a sweeping historical epic, is the primary reason it was selected A.D. 30 to be the winner of this year’s INSPY award.

Speculative Fiction: Spirit Bridge (Thomas Nelson) by James L.Rubart:

Book - Spirit BridgeSpirit Bridge is a brilliantly written story that was thought provoking and yet easy to follow as a standalone novel, though it is the third and final book in the Well Spring series. The story-world was populated with an excellent group of lead characters who were complex and easily relatable in their struggles in both the physical and spiritual realms. Their struggles challenge the reader to examine aspects of their own lives.  The story’s message, dying to self and keeping the enemy from gaining a foothold, was clear throughout, not getting lost in the suspense and action of the story. Spirit Bridge fully satisfies the reader’s expectations of the genre. It is a powerful spiritual thriller, with the speculative elements underpinning the novel and not requiring any further explanation to better understand it. Spirit Bridge is very worthy of the INSPY for Speculative Fiction.

 

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We’d like to thank our judges for their hard work and careful consideration of each title.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

Author Interview with Jordyn Redwood

Today the INSPYs blog is pleased to welcome Jordyn Redwood. In addition to being an author, Jordyn is also an ER nurse which is where she draws inspiration for her medical mystery trilogy, her novel Poison is on the Mystery/Thriller short list.

2412 cvr final.inddSummary from Goodreads

Five years ago, Keelyn Blake’s stepfather took her family hostage, raving about Lucent, a being who forced him to commit unspeakable acts. Some of the family made it out alive; the rest did not. Even Lee Watson, the best of SWAT, failed to overcome the man’s delusions and end the standoff peacefully.

Now, Lucent is back– and he’s no hallucination. He has kidnapped Keelyn’s niece, and although Keelyn is estranged from her half-sister, Raven, she feels compelled to save what little family she has left. But Raven is nowhere to be found, and when others involved in that fateful day start dying under mysterious circumstances, Keelyn wonders if she and Lee– and their budding relationship– will surive.

Poison follows Proof in the Bloodline trilogy with another rollercoaster plot that makes it an irresistible adventure for all suspense fiction fans.

What do you do outside the world of books?

I work as a pediatric ER nurse and also just started working for a faith-based organization.

2013-12-21 20.44.42As book lovers it interests us – What books or authors have influenced you, both as a writer and a reader?

I can’t tell you how honored I am to be among fellow book addicts. The biggest influence on my writing has been Dean Koontz. I’m hoping if I put this out there enough times he’ll call me up and ask to do lunch. After I recover from passing out I’ll happily accept. Other authors I read consistently are James Patterson (the Alex Cross series), Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, Lisa Gardner, Steven James and Ted Dekker. They write intriguing story lines with tight suspense on every page. This is the kind of author I want to be.

What are the challenges or benefits of incorporating faith into your storyline?

The challenge is always having the faith element generate authentically from the story line so the reader doesn’t feel like they’re getting thumped on the head with a Bible. The benefit of having inspirational fiction of all genres on the market is that it is often easier to hand someone a novel than the Bible as an introduction to the elements of the Christian faith. Jesus used parables a lot to help people to understand faith, hope, grace and mercy.

What do you hope readers take away from Poison?

At its core, Poison delves into about what we believe about truth and how that impacts our lives. I believe there is universal truth and having an understanding of that can help us lead less complicated, more joyful lives.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life?

Jordyn's Writing Space

Jordyn’s Writing Space

This is such a great question on so many levels. For writing in general, the hardest thing about being an author for me is the actual writing of 90,000 words. It’s just flat out hard work. First drafts are probably the hardest thing for me to do and I’ve learned to edit myself a lot less as I’m writing one so I can just get it done. The second hardest thing for me is not having my novels come across as too technical. I am a big medical nerd at heart. I LOVE research so I have to be careful the book isn’t just a clever way to discuss a medical topic. The third hardest thing for me and the thing I work on the most is depth of characterization. As a plot/action oriented author, this is the biggest challenge. It amazes me to hear of authors spending hours trying to pick a character name. That is just not me but I also need to find a way for readers to identify with my characters because that’s what ultimately keeps them interested in the novel—how much they care them.

Specifically for Poison—the medical question is can someone be influenced to do evil under hypnosis? A lot of research was involved to decide if this was medically possible and I had the novel reviewed by a graduate student in psychology for this reason. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Thanks so much for hosting me on the INSPY blog. It truly is an honor to be nominated for two years in a row for this award and I am still pinching myself that I am sitting alongside such prestigious authors.

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Thank you for joining us today, Jordyn! It was a pleasure to host you. Visit Jordyn on her website to learn more about her novels and work.

Interview with author Tom Davis

Tom Davis’ novel Priceless is on the INSPY shortlist for Thriller/Suspense/Crime fiction.

Summary of Priceless (Goodreads)

Photojournalist Stuart Daniels has found purpose in life. After suffering the fallout of a tragic assignment, Daniels rediscovered his faith while helping a young African orphan. Now his photo work carries a greater mission: To educate people about social injustice happening around the world.   Daniels next assignment carries him back overseas and into the heart of Russia. Once there, Daniels is persuaded by an old friend to help save two girls from a desperate situation. Soon he becomes a key player in a dangerous campaign to rescue helpless women trapped in the sex-slave trade. What Daniels encounters during his journey will shake his faith, test his courage, and even threaten his life. Yet as Daniels gets deeper and the stakes get higher, he will discover that hope can be found in the darkest of places.

INSPYs:  Why do you write?

Tom:  I write to give faces and voices to those who are forgotten. There are many stories in the world that deserved to be told, but their voices remain silent. My desire is to tell them. I travel around the world and constantly encounter wonderful people like the characters in Priceless and their lives inspire me. It doesn’t matter how poor they are or how difficult their circumstances, I always leave their presence a better person.

What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?

The topics I tackle deal with difficult, real-life issues – life and death, disease, extreme poverty, and human trafficking. You can’t help but ask serious questions when walking in the shoes of an orphan who has been trafficked for sex. Where is God? Why does evil seem to triumph? What about justice? What can I do? Through my writing, God’s hand is clearly seen in the most difficult circumstances, but these issues are a sticky mess. Even in the midst of that, God is always there, watching, guiding, and somehow working out all things for good. I didn’t say He causes those things, I don’t believe that. But He is working through them.

Favourite book – favourite movie – favourite TV show?

Book – Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I love Russia and Russian writers. I may be a bit biased since I’ve traveled to Russia fifty three times.

Movie – Les Miserables.

TV Show – Don’t watch many TV shows. Guess I would have to say The Office.

How do you feel about blogging?  Do you have a blog?

Blogging is a way I can inform and disciple others about the things God really cares about. I can’t believe how many incredible people I’ve met from blogging. I’ve taken trips to Africa where fifteen of the twenty people in the group were blog friends. The airport in Washington DC was the first place we officially met in person!

I blog for BeliefNet.com on issues of social justice at www.cthomasdavis.com

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Without a doubt, my favorite is The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I read this book as a child, but the older I get the more meaningful it becomes.  I think everyone wants to be swept away into Narnia and fight the good fight against the evil snow queen. Wait a minute, that’s kind of what I do as the President of Children’s Hopechest (www.hopechest.org <http://www.hopechest.org> ). I entered my own Narnian dream! Anyone want to join me?

Tom Davis currently serves as CEO of Children’s HopeChest, a global orphan care ministry headquartered in Colorado Springs. A tireless advocate for fatherless children, Davis has spent most of his adult life calling U.S. believers to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to the 143 million orphans living around the world. He and his wife Emily have seven children, including two adopted daughters from Russia.

Interview with author Sibella Giorello

Sibella Giorello’s novel, The Clouds Roll Away is on the INSPYs shortlist for the Thriller/Suspense/Crime fiction.

Summary of The Clouds Roll Away (Goodreads)

Closing her assignment with the FBI’s Seattle office, forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon returns to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, expecting a warm welcome. Instead she finds herself investigating an ugly cross burning at a celebrity’s mansion and standing in the crosshairs of her boss at the Bureau. And the deeper Raleigh digs into the case, the murkier the water becomes…until she’s left wondering who the real victims might be.

To make matters worse, Raleigh’s personal life offers almost zero clarity. Her former confidant is suddenly remote while her former boyfriend keeps popping up wherever she goes. And then there’s her mother. Raleigh’s move home was supposed to improve Nadine’s fragile sanity, but instead seems to be making things worse.

As the threads of the case begin crossing and double-crossing, Raleigh is forced to rely on her forensic skills, her faith, and the fervent hope that breakthrough will come, bringing with it that singular moment when the clouds roll away and everything finally makes sense.

INSPYs:  Why do you write mysteries?

Sibella:  I write mysteries because life has alway struck me as one big Whodunnit. But I write Christian mysteries because crime strikes me as a theological problem. Secular mysteries tend to portray crime as sociological — people are born good, then “go bad” through lousy environments and various victimhoods. Those are the same mysteries that tend to show Christians as hick grotesques and twisted hypocrites. I got tired of reading those books because not only are they ignorant, they’re dishonest. I wanted mysteries that reflected my Christian worldview, which might be summed up as: God is good, people stink, He loves us anyway, and sent his son to die in our place.

What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?

The challenge is to keep the faith element organic, so that rises naturally from characters and situations. As someone who grew up Jewish, I was periodically exposed to a certain amount of ham-handed proselytizing. All that bad delivery provoked scorn, and that unfortunately that scorn carried over into my perception of Christianity itself. By the grace of God alone, I finally heard the truth.  But I never want to forgot that feeling, that sense that somebody seems like they’re “on the make” with Scripture. That helps keep me from writing propaganda.

My goal is to write about truth, even when it’s not all sweetness and sunshine. Maybe especially when it’s not all sweetness and sunshine.

What are the benefits of that challenge? Tremendous, life-altering things. I can only write honestly if I live honestly. So, no zooming out of the church parking lot, cursing at other drivers. No lunging for that speck in someone’s else eye when a plank is planted in mine. To write about authentic faith, God has to hold up a mirror to the author, continually revealing places where we’re Pharisees, or fakes, or convenient Christians. Not exactly fun, but it’s wonderful sandpaper for removing veneers.

Favorite book – favorite movie – favorite TV show?

Favorite book: The Bible. Sounds like a cliche but the Bible’s got mystery, romance, geology, crime, persecution, redemption — and truth. And it continually breathes new life. No other book on the planet can do that.

Movie:. Either “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Gran Torino.” They’re not as different as you might think. Both are redemption movies.

TV Show: Rockford Files, hands down. When I hear that theme music, see that gold Firebird, James Garner — oh, man, that’s the greatest TV show.

How do you feel about blogging?  Do you have a blog?

I do have a blog and really enjoy it. Each entry feels like a letter to friends, held intact by the boundaries of journalism. Personally, I think blogs are saving the world, especially from tv and newspapers. And I say that as a former newspaper reporter.

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Lit by Mary Karr. The book isn’t new. And it isn’t fiction. But it reads with that heightened sense of reality of great literature.

The title is a play on words — Karr taught literature at Harvard, and she was a drunk. Black-out drunk. Forget-where-you- were-last-night drunk. Like her other books, including mega-selling The Liar’s Club, Lit is a memoir, and Karr’s writing sings with poetic wonderment.

Toward the end, as she’s cobbling together her broken life, she writes about God. That passage is so intimate, so honest, so real, it’s like reading Augustine.

And it’s a brave book. Karr chooses God over her tribe of New England intellectuals.

But the, that’s another important element of good faith-driven lit: The courage to write what God puts on your heart.

Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

Interview with author Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker’s novel The Bride Collector is on the INSPYs shortlist for Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction along with his novel Green on the INSPYs shortlist for Speculative Fiction

Summary of The Bride Collector (Goodreads)

FBI Special agent Brad Raines is facing his toughest case yet. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and he’s picking up his pace. Unable to crack the case, Raines appeals for help from a most unusual source: residents of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals whose are extraordinarily gifted.

It’s there that he meets Paradise, a young woman who witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped his hand. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Paradise may also have an extrasensory gift: the ability to experience the final moments of a person’s life when she touches the dead body.

In a desperate attempt to find the killer, Raines enlists Paradise’s help. In an effort to win her trust, he befriends this strange young woman and begins to see in her qualities that most ‘sane people’ sorely lack. Gradually, he starts to question whether sanity resides outside the hospital walls…or inside.

As the Bride Collector picks up the pace-and volume-of his gruesome crucifixions, the case becomes even more personal to Raines when his friend and colleague, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector’s next target.

The FBI believes that the killer plans to murder seven women. Can Paradise help before it’s too late?

INSPYs:  Why do you write your stories?

Ted:  I write to explore and discover big questions that move and challenge me. There are many things that people think about late at night when they’re left to their thoughts. I’m interested in those things. For me, the most satisfying experience is when a reader says, “I never thought of it that way.” Then again, I also write for the pure entertainment value of following an ordinary person thrown into an extraordinary situation that tests their limitations and understanding of the world.

What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?

It’s impossible to separate worldview and faith from anything you do. The real challenge is being willing to go in search of the whole truth and accept it no matter what you find, even if it is not what you expected. Finding it is the payoff, if you’re honest in your pursuit. I benefit of accepting that challenge is finding truth in the story itself, rather than layering a story with truth you already think you have.

Favorite book – favorite TV show?

The Stand, the first book that truly moved me. Favorite TV show: A shifting target. At the moment probably Sons of Anarchy or Kitchen Nightmares.

How do you feel about blogging?  Do you have a blog?

I don’t have a typical blog, but I do post essays to my Facebook page.   <http://Facebook.com/teddekker> .

Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Blue Like Jazz. An honest and intriguing exploration of faith and life as opposed to a Christianized self help book on the right way to do things.

Synopsis for Green (Amazon)

As foretold by ancient prophets, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, he gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called…Green.

But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest. Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying death.

That was then. Now the Circle has lost all hope. And Samuel, Thomas Hunter’s cherished son, has turned his back on his father and is aligning dark forces to wage the final war. Thomas is crushed–but determined to rescue the Circle and his son even if he has to cross two worlds to do so.

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty novels and resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.

Interview with author Ronie Kendig

Ronie Kendig’s debut novel,  Dead Reckoning is on the INSPYs shortlist for Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction

Summary of Dead Reckoning (Goodreads)

Dead Reckoning is the story of a young woman anxious to abandon the crushing effects of her father’s espionage career only to find herself tangled in the very web of mystery and intrigue that consumed his life.

Underwater archeologist Shiloh Blake is consumed with passion for the water and inflamed at the injustices of life, blaming her secret agent father for her mother’s death. When her first large-scale dig traps her in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash, she flees for her life and is followed by an unknown man. Who is he? How is he always one step ahead? Reece Jaxon is a former Navy SEAL, who now serves his country as a spy. His mission is threatened by the beguiling Shiloh Blake as he hunts down the sources to a nuclear dead drop in the Arabian Sea. The only way to end this nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown is for Shiloh to join forces with Reece. Will Shiloh violate her vow to never become a spy like her father? Will she reconcile with her father? Will her trust issues destroy her chance for love? And will she allow God to help her through this ordeal?

INSPYS:  Why do you write thrillers?

Ronie:  My answer is multifaceted. First, when I read stories, I tend to bore easily. If there’s not enough action or movement, I usually move on to the next book. So, in my own writing, I like a fast pace. I think also that thrillers fit my view of life, which is that it doesn’t hold anything back, so why should I (when I write)? And last, the reason I write thrillers is because I am not a mystery writer. I”m not interested in tricking or “getting one over” on my readers–and that’s what thrillers do. Generally, you know who the villain is and you move forward, thrust the hero into a situation against insurmountable odds…then get them out of it.

What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating your faith into your story?

As a Christian, I live my faith out in my life. I’m not an in-your-face Christian; my beliefs and love for Christ are, however, an inseparable part of who I am. So those elements will be in my stories. In some of my books, the faith thread is more overt, in others a tad covert–it all depends on the story, the events in the story, and the character.
Favourite book? Favourite Movie? Favourite TV show?

Okay, how about one of each–and that’s even tough for me because these answers all depend on genre. My favorite book is CS Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. Favorite movie (whoa, this is tough…)…um, probably How to Steal A Million with Audrey Hepburn & Peter O’Toole. If you want a favorite thriller, then I’d have to say either Sixth Sense or the Bourne series. My favourite TV Show is probably the hardest question because I don’t typically watch TV anymore since that’s my writing time. However…I have DVR and DVDs, so when I take a break or go on a movie/TV-watching binge, my favorite shows include Firefly, Lie to Me, Heroes, The Unit, and thanks to my friend Lori Twichell, Farscape.

How do you feel about blogging?

I think it’s a fabulous, unobtrusive way to share your world with someone else. It can also be quite cathartic to write about what you’re going through or an epiphany you’ve had, but it’s also a great avenue to come alongside one another, lift each other up and be to our brothers and sisters in Christ what God intended–a support system.

Do you have a blog?

Indeed I do. The one I use most and reveal most about myself through is the supernaturalcraving.blogspot.com site. On it, I provide news about the industry, about my spiritual journey, but I also post reviews of books I’ve read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also have a blog for the Discarded Heroes series I’m writing and one under my name (roniekendig).

Tell us about a book that epitomises quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Oh man. This is tough. Although several authors popped into my head, the first one and the one that I think is current and most relevant across the board, is James L. Rubart’s ROOMS. I am not being over-dramatic or gushy when I say that book changed my life, and I hear that thing from a lot of others. Jim writes what I call “living” books, ones that can reach across time and beliefs to touch hearts.

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. She is also the author of Nightshade and Digitalis (Jan, 2011) the first books in The Discarded Heroes series from Barbour Publishing.

Interview with author Steven James

Steven James’ The Knight is on the INSPYs shortlist for Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction.

Summary of The Knight (Goodreads)

In The Knight, the third installment in the bestselling series of thrillers featuring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, the stakes have never been higher. Agent Bowers is used to tracking the country’s most dangerous killers, but now it looks like a killer is tracking him. When he realizes the murderer is using clues from an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes, Bowers faces a race against time to decipher who the next victim will be and to stop the final shocking murder–which he’s beginning to believe might be his own. Gritty, chilling, and intense, this psychological thriller is guaranteed to keep readers up all night

INSPYs:  Why do you write suspense?

Steven:  I write suspense because it gives me a natural avenue for exploring deep moral and philosophical questions about good and evil, human nature, the meaning of life, our relationship with the Divine. After all, when you are working a murder investigation it’s natural to ask why this has happened, or if God really exists, why would he let this child get raped and then slaughtered? And of course, the question rises—what am I capable of? Is redemption possible? What makes me different from those who do the unthinkable? Suspense is the one genre where you can escalate both the external struggle and the internal questions about morality all the way to the limit.

INSPYs:  What are the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith into your story?

Steven:  I find that when I strive to tell a great story that asks big questions, I don’t have any trouble writing from a Christian worldview. My books are not agenda-driven. In other words, I don’t set out to make a point or teach a lesson, rather, I try to explore moral dilemmas, tell the truth about the world (both good and evil), and show that hope must come from something beyond ourselves. I also strive to celebrate the things God celebrates and abhor the things he abhors. This comes out in the way I deal with evil and violence—never glamorizing it, and never muting it. Instead, presenting evil as disturbing rather than alluring and showing how real it is in our world.

INSPYs:  Favourite book?

Steven:  Choosing favourites like this is always difficult for me. I loved the book Christianity for Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft (nonfiction) and have started reading Thomas H. Cook’s crime novels, which I consider very well-written.

INSPYs:  How do you feel about blogging?

Steven:  I’m all for blogging when people have something to say.

INSPYs:  Do you have a blog?

Steven:  I do have a blog but I wouldn’t say I’m a blogger! I post infrequently, but enjoy the chance to share thoughts with my readers.

INSPYs:  Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Steven:  I found Silence by Shusako Endo to be an engaging and, in a way, troubling read. He retells the story of two missionaries to Japan and the consequences of what happens when they are asked to deny their Savior and abandon their faith. The book makes you ask what it would take for you to do the same—the threat of physical harm or the lure of self-indulgence.

Critically-acclaimed author Steven James has penned 25+ books and appeared more than 2000 times since 1996 at conferences, special events, festivals and churches across the country.

Thriller/Suspense/Crime Judges

The 2010 Inspys Advisory Board is pleased to announce the judging panel for the category of Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction:

Mark Buzard

I am a single guy that lives in northeastern Ohio. I have no kids, but have 3 nieces and 3 nephews who I am crazy about, and love being an uncle. As far back as I can remember, I have loved to read. About a year ago, a couple of friends urged me to check into reviewing books on my blog, which I am thankful for. I really enjoy that.

My favorite genre to read is Christian suspense/mystery and I enjoy pretty much any Christian author who writes that kind of book.

I was raised in the church and feel like I am still struggling to find where and what God wants me to be.

I believe Christian fiction can be more than entertainment. God can use it to speak to people, and has used it to speak to me. I hope and pray the authors strive to write fiction that will not just be enjoyed by we mortals, but that will please God.

www.thoughtsofasojourner.blogspot.com

Nike Chillemi

Like so many other writers, I started writing at a very young age. I still have a Crayola, fully illustrated book I penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about my then off-the-chart love of horses.

Today, you might call me a crime fictionista. My passion is crime fiction. I like my bad guys really bad and my good guys smarter and better.

I write book and movie reviews for The Christian Pulse on-line magazine. Mostly I review serious crime fiction novels or other types of edgy Christian titles. In movies, I generally prefer to review thrillers and action-adventure films. I also write topical articles and reviews for Ezine Articles. I’ve penned several Christian themed detective novels which I’m shopping around to agents and publishers.

I’m a wife and mother, animal lover, also an urban dweller, living in coastal metro New York City, a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean. I’m crazy about the ocean. I can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

My blog is Nike Chillemi~Crime Fictionista http://crimefictionandfaith.blogspot.com/

Kim Ford

Kim Ford has been a resident of Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of Christian Fiction for more than 20 years. A mother of two teen sons and married to a technical writer and Army veteran, Kim’s life is full and blessed. She and her husband also volunteer as teachers for a resident rehab program for women with life-controlling issues. She uses her fiction to encourage the ladies she teaches.

Kim blogs at: Window To My World

Tim George

Tim George has spent the last few years highlighting the best of faith-based suspense, mystery, and Sci-Fi at his blog, Unveiled. Along with book reviews, and interviews, Unveiled has also sponsored joint contests with authors such as Mike Dellosso and Athol Dickson. He is also a featured reviewer at FictionAddict.com where he has done a number of audio interviews with well known CBA authors. Tim is a full-time freelance writer and now represented by Les Stobbe for his own fiction.

Dee Stewart

A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart’s writings have appeared in Precious Times, RT Book Reviews, Spirit Led Woman Magazines and on The Master’s Artist Blog. She is also the owner of DeeGospel PR (www.deegospelpr.com,) Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA.

Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 6 years old in July at http://christianfiction.blogspot.com.  Her debut novel “A Good Excuse to Be Bad” (Kensington) releases July 2011. Talk to her in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.