Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today we welcome Jonathan Wakefield to Write This Way. Jonathan is a fellow OakTara author, and his debut novel, Fatal Reality, released last month only days after my debut novel, Peril: Fast Track Thriller #1.

JONATHAN is an IT professional, holds a degree in Biology from the University of Richmond. A Craftsman graduate of the Christian Writers Guild, he has trained under authors Jerry B. Jenkins, John Perrodin, James Scott Bell, Jeff Gerke, and Douglas Hirt. Jonathan’s short stories have appeared in The Rose & Thorn and The Messenger, and he has written articles for various magazines and journals, including New Man, Men of Integrity, Live, The Gem, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Fatal Reality—a finalist in the 2009 Operation First Novel contest—is his debut novel.

When media celebrity Kyle Borders wins a spot on Extreme Mortality, the biggest reality show ever, he’s determined to use the opportunity to live out his faith before the worldwide audience.
Daniel Vats, the show’s creator, has never killed anyone, but he can hardly wait to start. Kidnapping the contestants, he thrusts them into a fight for survival of the fittest, forcing them to run a perilous race to the death—televised on live feed before the world—on a remote South Pacific Island.
Who will live? Who will die? And why is Daniel so vehement about proving Kyle a phony? The shocking revelations will stun the watching audience.

Tell us a little about yourself:

1)    How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since third grade when my teacher surprised me by reading my poem “Family Sounds” to the entire class. In fourth grade, I discovered my love of fiction, often finding myself taking an assignment to write a half-page story and turning out one that was seven or eight pages (which seemed like a novel at the time) with an intricate plot involving G.I. Joes and Transformers. I simply couldn’t stop writing long stories. That has never changed in the twenty-six years since. Writing has always just been part of who I am, which is how I know that God designed me to be an author.

2)    What is your best writing advice?

Writing is a profession that takes as much training and practice as any other in order to do it well. Natural talent plays a big role, but learning the techniques of creating a compelling book requires tremendous time, patience, and perseverance. I got serious about publishing a novel when I was twenty-two and averaged about two hours of a writing a day, six days a week for thirteen years before I finally wrote a novel that led to a publishing contract.

I think many young writers believe that they are simply born with the skills to write a great book. I certainly believed that at first. I could hardly wait to get on Letterman and dazzle the audience with details about my latest bestseller. It’s funny to look back about how unrealistic I was to think that I could just put something down on paper with some semblance of a story and expect the entire nation to spend their hard-earned money and limited time on reading it.

Besides being a father, getting a novel published is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t say that to scare off aspiring writers, but to be honest about the challenges involved. But the good news is that the skills can be learned with enough dedication and willingness to learn. All the experts I had talked to before getting published told me that it would one day happen if I kept at it long enough. I’m happy to finally prove them right.

3)    Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I’m a Christian, so naturally I write about topics and themes that Christians care about. I also love stories that feature strong characters dealing with life-and-death struggles that will challenge their basic beliefs—and perhaps the reader’s beliefs as well.

Fatal Reality tackles some controversial spiritual and cultural issues, making it edgier than a lot of what the Christian fiction industry offers. I like to write about the weightier—and sometimes messier—issues of faith, giving my readers something to ponder while taking them on a thrilling ride.

4)    What kind of things to you enjoy doing when not writing?

I’m married and have two little boys, so most of my free time is spent with them. We enjoy playing games, watching movies, hiking, swimming, and traveling.

Now a few fun questions:

5)    What is your favorite candy?

Rainbow sprinkles when mixed in cake batter ice cream with a brownie and fudge. Cold Stone Creamery fans may recognize this as the always-delectable Birthday Cake Remix signature creation.

6)    Kindle or Nook? (or neither)

I actually still prefer reading a printed book, but I do have a Kindle. I like that it can read to me, so sometimes I listen while driving. The robotic voice is a little strange, though, especially when it’s not sophisticated enough (yet) to read something correctly in the context of the passage (like reading the calendar year in a date as if it were a regular number).

Tell us about your new book:

7)    Tell us what motivated you to write this novel.

I have always loved thrillers that pack an emotional and philosophical punch. Combining this with my intrigue of the cultural impact of the reality-show industry, I thought it would make a fascinating story to thrust a Christian into a reality show featuring a diverse cast of strong characters and forcing him to react as the show is taken hostage and turned into a battle for survival.

8)    Is there a Bible verse that fits this book?

Many verses are quoted in Fatal Reality as part of the game that the antagonist, Daniel Vats, plays with his reality show contestants, but the one that carries the most significance for the story is Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That verse plays a critical role in understanding the protagonist, the antagonist, and the internal and external battles they fight throughout the novel. I’ll leave it at that, though, so people have to read the book to find out what that all means. J

9)    How much of yourself is in the characters?

Not very much, believe it or not. The cast of major characters is diverse in a number of ways, and the only one who is a devout Christian is the protagonist, Kyle Borders. Obviously, I have that in common with him, sharing the same basic worldview. He’s also a writer. But beyond those few similarities, he and I are very different. And as for the other major characters, I have almost nothing in common with any of them.

I have to live with myself twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s actually refreshing to lose myself in a world where I don’t exist.

10) What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

A theme running throughout Fatal Reality is the importance of being honest with ourselves and each other about who we are and our shortcomings. I want readers to finish with the thought that we rob Satan of his power when we face those shortcomings head-on and thereby allow God to turn them into our greatest strengths.

11) What are you working on now?

I’m actually working on my first non-fiction book, which should be released next year. I’m not prepared to discuss the details yet, but I will say that it is political in nature. This is something I’ve become quite passionate about, especially in recent years. I used to think that as a Christian I should avoid discussing politics because it might distract from my attempts to spread the gospel; but I’ve come to realize that the Bible has much to say about government (the word “king” and its derivations—such as “kings” or “kingdom”—appear over 2,500 times in the Bible), so Christians should as well. But I want to make it clear that my political writings are entirely separate from my fictional writings. Fatal Reality doesn’t carry a political message or address politics in any way. It’s a straight-up thriller driven by spiritual and cultural themes.

As soon as I finish writing the political book (which should be in January 2012), I plan to return to fiction. I have another novel already finished titled Ark of Redemption (suspense) that was never published, but I would like to rework. I’m also plotting a sequel to Fatal Reality. Readers don’t have worry about being left hanging at the end of Fatal Reality, though, because it is a standalone novel, despite its potential sequels.

  • Websites where people can buy your book

  • Your website and/or blog

Thank you for joining us today, Jonathan. I enjoyed the opportunity to read Fatal Reality. It hooked me from the beginning and kept me guessing through the entire book. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. You can read my full review here: FATAL REALITY REVIEW.

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