Inspiration Behind Illusion
New York Times best selling author Frank Peretti talks about the inspiration for his new novel "Illusion."
BY: Gayle Trotter
Gayle: Are the trials of Mandy and Dane similar to the trials many Christians face during the Lenten season, and if so, how?
Frank: I’m not very familiar with the Lenten season, maybe you can describe that and build your question a little bit and then I can answer.
Gayle: Sure. The season of Lent is basically a representation of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted before Easter and the thinking about that time that he spent in the desert — in the wilderness — is he was being prepared for the major trials that he would face in going through the events leading up to his crucifixion and ultimately his resurrection. And it seems to me that in reading your book, Dane and Mandy go through unbelievable trials that are hard to comprehend for them, for the reader. And did that in some sense prepare them for the final victory of their life together?
Frank: Yes, that’s right, that’s exactly right because this is a biblical pattern. Moses had to herd sheep in the wilderness for 40 years. David was anointed king of Israel and yet had to flee Saul for who knows how long and cry out, “Lord, why are you doing this to me?” It’s a pattern where the Lord, when he calls you he also takes you through a time of testing and trial to prepare you for what you’re doing and every Christian has to go through that. In some form or another we often go through many, many different trials and lessons in life, and the Lord continues to hone this character in us. So what you have in the book is this really neat long-term testing of faith where Mandy is continually crying out to God because she doesn’t even know who she is or where she belongs. That, of course, is metaphorical of our own lost condition in which we also try to find our way and God can be just so silent.
Gayle: Do you see Illusion as a Christian novel or a novel written by a Christian author?
Frank: I see it as a novel written by a Christian author. It’s a novel anyone can enjoy and those who have the insight, they can see that oh, this guy was a Christian all right. He comes from a Christian view of reality. Kind of like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, just to draw names out of a hat here. I think that it must be a cross because there are authors who are pessimistic. They are decrying the evils of the world and the struggles of man but they never have an answer. I won’t name any names though I’ve got some coming to mind, but there are authors that are really good at showing how bad things are and decrying the evil in the world, but they don’t have an answer for it and I’m delighted that I could write about the struggles of life but you know what? There really is meaning behind it. And that’s what’s cool about being a Christian writer who writes novels. My novels reflect that kind of hope.
Gayle: Is writing hard or easy for you?
Sometimes the planning stage, planning and outlining, that’s the hardest part. That’s all work. I admit I’m a slow writer. I take about two years to do a book and for the first year I spend planning and researching and outlining, laying the whole thing out. That’s just nuts-and-bolts work and it’s not a whole lot of fun. But then the second year when I’ve got it all planned and I can just write it, that’s a whole lot of fun.
Gayle: Why do you write?
Frank: Because that’s what God made me to do. It’s really hard to explain other than that. God makes you to do a certain thing. You’re just made to do it. You love it. It’s the one thing that brings you peace and joy in your life. I was a carpenter. I was a printer. I tried a lot of different things. I was a minister — a pastor of a church — but I was never truly happy and fulfilled unless I was writing. And so it took me until I was turning thirty before I finally zeroed in and said God wants me to be a writer. And once I made my mind up about that — oh man, the joy, you just feel this race in your heart. It’s almost like that guy from Chariots of Fire — Eric Liddell — he said, “You know, God made me for a purpose, for China, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” When I write, I feel his pleasure. That’s what God made me to do so it’s this back and forth. I can feel God saying, “Go get ‘em Frank. Write away because that’s what I made you to do, and you pay attention now because I’m going to give you an idea for your next book. You keep your eyes open.” And check this out: It’s working. Because God called me to be a writer, and so I write, and guess what: it works. Because God has reached a whole bunch of people with the writing I’ve done. And so I sit at home getting my books written and then he takes care of the rest. So, wow, what a deal! Works great.
Gayle: I really enjoyed your book and I can just see someone trying to make a movie about it because it’s got such amazing scenes in it. I don’t know if they’d be able to be faithful to the original work that you’ve done, but it’s really a gripping novel.
FP: You read the book, and it just cries out to be a movie, but I like to write cinematically anyway. It’s kind of bridging those two worlds I guess. I try to write visually and give the eye of the mind a lot to look at.
Gayle: Thank you so much for speaking with me about your new novel, Illusion, Mr. Peretti.
Frank: Oh yes.