Q&A With "Last Light" Author Terri Blackstock
- 2005 28 Nov
Following is an interview with best-selling author Terri Blackstock regarding her latest murder mystery, "Last Light." The Jackson, Mississippi, author has more than 1.5 million Christian novels in print.
AgapePress: "Last Light" centers on a global catastrophe that brings out both the best and the worst in people. How did you choose such a subject?
Terri Blackstock: I wasn't setting out to write a book about global catastrophe. I was mainly interested in showing what might happen if we suddenly had to do without all our technology. In all my books, I try to put ordinary people in jeopardy, and I thought it would be fascinating to portray this upper middle-class Christian family who suddenly has no money, no car, no phones, no electricity, no food or water, in a neighborhood where everyone is suffering. I wanted to show this Christian family having to decide between hoarding and sharing, when their own survival is at stake.
I think we saw this same dynamic at work after Hurricane Katrina. Though the news media mainly concentrated on the negative, there were wonderful stories of people who'd lost their own homes who were working in shelters or at distribution centers, helping others, sharing what they had to give, and looking out for others' needs before their own. Our church became a shelter for evacuees, and it was staffed by volunteers who had lost all their food, who couldn't drink their water, and whose power was out. Later, our church partnered with Pass Road Baptist Church in Biloxi. That church sat in the middle of the devastation, and its members, who had lost everything they owned, worked tirelessly for hours a day giving out supplies and food to victims who lined up in their cars for help. This is the kind of thing I wanted to show in my book, though I never dreamed how close to reality it would become at the time of its release. I wanted to show that Christian people are to "be Christ" in every situation, even when their own survival is at stake.
AP: Could an event like this really happen?
Blackstock: Yes, it could happen. A nuclear bomb exploding in the upper atmosphere could cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would knock out all technology in a given region. People would be spared, but they'd be thrust into the exact same situation I portray in my book.
AP: How did you go about research for this one?
Blackstock: I had to do a ton of research, since I wanted to make it as realistic and plausible as possible. It was important for me to understand the science of what I was describing, including EMPs and semiconductors (not something I had an interest in before). I had a physicist who advised me on the disaster and read the book after it was written, and he was able to advise me. I also had a banker brainstorm with me on what the financial institutions might do in such a situation. I also read and studied a lot of old Y2K publications that came out before the year 2000, predicting a disaster similar to this if the world's computers shut down.
AP: Regarding the theme of sharing and sacrifice, what do you hope readers take away?
Blackstock: I hope that readers will be reminded that God sometimes allows difficulties into our lives to refine us. Sometimes, we find ourselves in the middle of a disaster like Katrina, and if we're strong enough in our faith, we can see that we were included so that we would be in place to help others. Since the book is also a murder mystery, I hope readers will see that when we step outside of God's will, as my 22-year-old character does in the book, we're bringing even more trouble on ourselves, but that God is faithful to provide and protect us when we turn back to Him. And above all, I want readers to ask themselves the question, "What might God do to get our attention?"
Often, when we look back on terrible, tragic times of our lives, we can see the blessing in it so clearly. There are blessings to be had through our suffering, and if we keep our focus on the Lord, rather than our immediate circumstances, He can show us amazing, beautiful things, and strengthen our faith and our relationship with Christ.
AP: What can suspense and adventure stories teach us about faith?
Blackstock: Suspense novels are a great backdrop for showing common, ordinary people in great mortal danger because of evil coming against them. In stories like that, God becomes the hero, not swooping out of the sky to rescue them, but protecting, providing, and redeeming them, sometimes in the quiet, surprising ways we're all familiar with. I want to remind my readers of the way God has worked in their own lives, and comfort them with the promises He has all throughout scripture. As my characters grow closer to Christ, through danger and trials, I hope light bulbs will come on for my readers, and that they'll be challenged to a closer walk with Him.
© 2005 AgapePress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.