The Cross & the Pen: Craig Parshall on Fiction and Ministry
- Friday, May 16, 2003
Welcome to "The Cross & the Pen," Crosswalk.com's author-to-author interview column. Ladies and gentlemen, as a novelist I can tell you that there is nothing zanier than two people who live in "La-La Land" engaging in "real" conversation. We talk about subject matter that if overheard would surely result in our being put "away" in some nice quiet hospital for the "titched." So it was GREAT FUN to talk with Craig Parshall, author of Custody of the State, about the reality of writing fiction and the purpose it serves in ministry. After speaking with Craig and hearing his heart, I am proud to say I am among the ranks of such novelists as he.
Eva: Craig, your book is "edge of your seat" kind of stuff... What inspired you to write Custody of the State?
Craig Parshall: Several different factors led to Custody of the State. First of all, I wanted a definite change of pace from the first book. In The Resurrection File, the story line is global and international. In Custody of the State I wanted to be much more provincial, with the vast majority of the action taking place in a small, fictional farming community in rural Georgia called Delphi. The second factor was the story line itself. I wanted to write a story that addressed the slow, subtle, but powerful trend in the law where the rights of parents and families have been massively eroded.
Eva: Your last novel, The Resurrection File, introduced main character Will Chambers. Do you consider Custody of the State to be a sequel and will there be other novels featuring Will?
Craig: Both The Resurrection File and Custody of the State are part of the "Chambers of Justice" series. The entire series features Will Chambers, who in the first book (The Resurrection File) appears as a broken, and disillusioned former ACLU lawyer. In Custody of the State, Will Chambers (and Fiona MacCameron - a gospel singer with whom he has fallen in love in the first book) continue their relationship - while Will continues to take on challenging cases that involve a high degree of intrigue as well as personal challenge. Book number three in the series (The Accused) has already been completed, and is scheduled for release in July 2003. I am currently under contract (and well into) writing book number four. I am also scheduled to write a fifth book in the series after that. You'll see a number of the main characters following through from book to book, and, in an overall sense, the plot will ultimately weave together as the books go on in the series. Will and Fiona are, of course, constant characters in the series. You will also see some of the antagonists (Jason Bell Purdy, in Custody of the State as an example, is introduced in that book but also appears in The Accused). The master menace in Will's life, billionaire Warren Mullburn, is a presence in all of the books, sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly.
Eva: Tell me a little about Will Chambers.
Craig: In The Resurrection File we're first introduced to Will Chambers. His father was a politically liberal editor of a small Massachusetts newspaper. His parents were divorced late in life. Will is an interesting combination of two tidal forces, both in his background. He was raised a skeptic and an intellectual liberal. After law school he works with the ACLU in New York until he is forced to resign his affiliation with the ACLU because of what he perceives as their hypocrisy in touting civil liberties and yet they want to use federal racketeering laws to destroy prolifers. He then has a short (and turbulent) career with a civil rights law center in the South, but is fired there for disregarding a command not to represent a flamboyant evangelist who has been wrongfully accused of arson. In a sense, Will is like some of the more intellectually honest liberals I've met - those who have the courage to really face the tough questions that they don't have answers to. The other tidal force in his life is a close relationship with an aunt and uncle in the Cape Hatteras coastal area of North Carolina. His Aunt Georgia and Uncle Bull (a retired North Carolina judge) are strong, believing Christians and have planted spiritual seeds in his life.
The Resurrection File begins as Will's personal life is slowly beginning to devolve into disaster. His first wife (Audra) had been murdered in the prior year, leading Will into alcoholism and despair. His professional life becomes so tawdry that his law partners in the law firm kick him out. He has no clients left except one - a new case that's just walked in his office that presents him with a unique challenge: he is required to defend a fundamentalist pastor who is being sued for defamation relating to an archaeological find that, on its face, seems to substantiate the non-resurrection of Jesus Christ. In order to defend his client, Will needs to prove the credibility of the gospel story regarding Christ's Resurrection. Being a genuine truth-seeker, Will finally faces the historical facts regarding the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
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