Gayle: Yes, absolutely. The main protagonist in your book is Mandy, the wife. How are you able to get inside the mind of a woman?
Frank: Man, I don’t know. Being married to one sure helps. A woman is — just speaking from experience, being married to Barb — women are sure marvelous creatures. They are so delicate and insightful, and they’re just fun. There’s a certain word — I don’t want to use the word “mystique” because there’s a book, The Feminine Mystique, and that’s not at all what I’m talking about. Women are just intriguing and kind of mysterious to me. I don’t know, it’s just part of their charm, I guess. The Lord made them that way. Guys tend to be the logical, macho, warrior caveman — even when we’re sophisticated and wearing a suit, we’re still going out there and clubbing a bear and dragging it back to the cave. But the woman is the nurturer, the creator. You know what’s even interesting about that is how — this is a sidebar, but — women magicians, as opposed to man magicians, it’s interesting how man magicians are: sawing women in half and blowing things up and you have big saw blades cutting people in half. When you have a woman magician, she produces flowers, she weaves things together, and she uses scarves and produces these fun, creative things. The woman is the nurturer; she’s the creator; she’s the one who brings things to life and all that stuff weaves in. I just gave my wife a kiss; she’s going off on a plane. Now getting back to how did I get inside a woman’s mind, I don’t know. You just have to be real sensitive and just live with a dear wife like mine for all those years and for me, in terms of my own personal experience, you just have to maintain a sense of fascination. I think Mandy is fascinating.
Gayle: I agree.
Frank: Even as I’m writing this story I’m just kind of caught up and really intrigued with the character because she’s just so interesting. And that’s the way Barb is; she’s just so interesting. I never have quite figured her out.
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.