For a writer who’s sold more than 12 million books, Frank Peretti is a bit at loose creative ends at the moment. The novelist, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Christian Fiction Writers, is working on a nonfiction book, and he doesn’t have a contract or publisher for it.
“God’s talking to me about a nonfiction book,” Peretti says. “That’s where the sparks are firing. I want to go where he wants me to go.”
In the 1980s, the sparks fired for a novel of spiritual warfare, This Present Darkness, in which demons and angels battled in a small town. Peretti’s supernatural thriller sold more than 2.7 million copies and spawned a generation of writers. “I hear a lot of ‘I’m a writer because of you,’ ” Peretti, who is 62, said at the ACFW conference where he received his award, held Sept. 13-15 in Indianapolis. “It’s not a bad feeling, but it sneaks up on you. You don’t ask for it.”
What’s currently sneaking up on him is what he calls, invoking biblical stories and metaphors, a dry season. He’s reading material about the critical issues facing evangelical Christian churches, taking an empirical bullet so that others don’t have to wade through studies and analyses. “I’m trying to write a book that’s an easy read,” he says. “The Lord’s bringing his church into a new season.”
His most recent novel, Illusion (2012), deals with a longtime husband-and-wife magic act whose partnership is not ended but altered when the wife, Mandy, dies in a car wreck. After finishing the novel, “there was a kind of postpartum depression,” Peretti says. Illusion also met a market expecting something other than a love story from someone who made his mark as a supernatural thriller writer. “I’m best known for books I did 28 years ago,” says Peretti. “I don’t think I can look back.”
Peretti, who now lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, after living more rurally in that state, is open to creative nudges from the Lord as he proceeds on his newest writing project on the state of evangelical Christianity. “I have gotten quite a bit of input (that) ‘you should do a novel on that,’ ” he says. “The Lord can keep you guessing, and the only answer I’ve had (is) ‘Wherever you’re taking me, that’s where I want to go,’ ” he says.