Jack Cavanaugh is the author of a dozen novels, including the award-winning "An American Portrait" series, of which "The Puritans" won a ECPA Silver Medallion Award. His novels "While Mortals Sleep" and "His Watchful Eye" won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction. An inspirational speaker, Jack and his wife live in southern California.


Q:  How did you begin as a writer?

A:  The seed was planted while I was attending seminary at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. During a counseling class, Dr. John W. Drakeford said: “Men, if you want to expand your ministry, geographically and beyond your own lifetime, write.” He himself was a prolific writer. The seed lay dormant until my second year in the pastoral ministry when it dawned upon me that writing was going to figure into my ministry.

From the beginning I felt my call to ministry was to communicate the Gospel, which to me meant preaching and teaching. And while I loved that part of the pastoral ministry, to my chagrin I soon learned that preaching and teaching comprised only about 20 percent of a pastor’s time. The other 80 percent was spent in administration, visitation, counseling, meetings, and a host of other ministry duties. While I did those things because that was part of the pastor’s job, it bothered me that only 20 percent of my time was spent fulfilling my call.

I prayed that God might work things so that a greater percentage of my time could be given fulfilling my call. It was about that time the seed planted by Dr. Drakeford began to take root. I began attending a writers critique group that had started recently with the formation of the San Diego Christian Writers Guild.

To wrap this story up, I gave God three years to increase the percentage of my call. He took 10. It was His way of telling me I needed a lot more work than I thought I did. But when things opened up, they opened up quickly and now I’m spending 100 percent of my time fulfilling my call to ministry.

One thing that changed during that 10 years was the Christian book market. As a preacher I was fully aware of the power of the story to communicate eternal truth. I became intrigued by the possibilities of Christian fiction, particularly biblical novels. But when I approached Christian publishers they told me that Christian fiction just didn’t sell.

Then, along came Janette Oke, and Brock and Bodie Thoene, and Frank Peretti and publishers opened their doors to the possibility of fiction. When they opened the doors, they found me standing at the threshold.

I had met Linda Holland at writers conferences when she was working with Gospel Light, which didn’t publish fiction. Then, Victor Books hired her to start a fiction line and presented a contemporary fiction proposal to her at Mt. Herman Writers Conference. She said she thought she could get me a contract for it and I was soaring. Then, things got even better. She told me told me they were looking for someone to write a series of books spanning American history. With a degree in history, I’d been dreaming of doing something like that for years. She told me what they were looking for. I gave them a proposal custom tailored to what they wanted, and as a result they offered me a four-book contract. I’ve been writing novels ever since.

Q:  How did you happen to write "Death Watch" and "Dear Enemy" so close together?

A:  Actually it’s a publisher’s decision. Last year I had only one book come out. This year I have four books coming out — "Proof", "Fire", "Death Watch", and "Dear Enemy." I also have three books in the "American Family Portrait" series being re-released this fall. To the casual observer, I dogged it last year and have been hustling this year. In reality, it’s a result of scheduling decisions made by four different publishers.