Every so often you come across a book, and an author, that has a natural knack for really touching your inner most being. A book that truly makes you think and consider your own life and where it is heading. A story that begs you to discover your place in God’s plan and His universe. Author John Herrick’s book “From the Dead” is just such a book.
Here’s the product description straight from Amazon.com:
A preacher’s son, a father in hiding, a guilty heart filled with secrets: When Jesse Barlow escaped to Hollywood, he hungered for fame–but eleven years of failure result in a drug-induced suicide attempt. Revived at death’s doorstep, Jesse returns to his Ohio hometown to make amends with his preacher father, a former love, and Jesse’s own secret son. But Jesse’s renewed commitment becomes a baptism by fire when his son’s advanced illness calls for a sacrifice–one that could cost Jesse the very life he regained. A story of mercy, hope, and second chances, From The Dead captures the human spirit with tragedy and joy.
Now before you think this is a straight up Christian novel, think again. Though the message is clearly spiritual and Christian in nature, John has expertly woven a fantastically gritty, some times down right poignant yarn. It’s real life with all its pain, sorrow, and joy.
Here’s what people are saying about “From the Dead”:
“Eloquence with an edge. In a single chapter, John Herrick can break your heart, rouse your soul, and hold you in suspense. Be prepared to stay up late.” – Doug Wead, New York Times bestselling author and advisor to two presidents.
“Evocative … I felt breathless … You’ll want to get this book.” – Michelle Sutton, Bestselling author of Danger at the Door.
“From the Dead” is a solid read with a powerful spiritual message.” – Midwest Book Review.
There are so many things I could say about this book. It was edgy. It was heart-wrenching. It was honest. Bottom line…it had a lot of guts. In some ways the story made me think of a Nicholas Sparks novel, at least for the second half of the book. The first half was more gritty, especially the language – yeah, that included those touchy f-bombs. But it didn’t upset me, because it truly fit the story. And I can’t stand that word, but it wasn’t overly done, in my opinion. It just made the characterization more real in my mind. I love a story that is emotionally gripping and makes me think about my own life. This book does that. I seriously didn’t want to do anything except read this book and nearly read it straight through (darn that day job.) – Michelle Sutton, Barnes and Noble reader review.
Sounds like some pretty good endorsements to me!
Well, recently, I had a chance to talk to John about his book, his dreams of writing, and just about everything else under the sun. Here’s what he had to say:
1) Tell us a little about “From The Dead”. In your own words, what’s it about? Where did the inspiration come from for this spiritually uplifting novel?
“From The Dead” is a story of second chances. The main character, Jesse Barlow, is a preacher’s son who has spent 11 years on a quest for fame in Hollywood, but ends up failing at it. On a subconscious level, he is on a search for his identity. As an actor, he has the opportunity to wear a variety of masks. Jesse is a guy with secrets and broken relationships.
The first 1/3 of the novel follows Jesse’s final months in Los Angeles, where he slips into a downward spiral. He makes a series of unfortunate choices, faces regrets about his past, and hits rock bottom in a suicide attempt that nearly ends his life. The next 2/3 of the novel follows Jesse’s upward journey into victory. He returns to his hometown with a sense of living on borrowed time. Jesse reconnects with his past, sorts through deep-seated issues, and works through the process of restoring relationships with his family, with a former love (and a son he didn’t know he had), and with God.
The concept began with a what-if question. After listening to Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” song with fresh focus, a thought occurred to me: “A preacher’s son is often expected to live a nearly perfect life. What would that son look like, how would he feel, if he fell miserably short of people’s expectations?” It began as an intriguing concept and grew in a flourish from there. In my heart, I knew this was the novel I was supposed to work on next.
2) The Prodigal Son parable seems to be the major theme of “From The Dead.” What do you think would be the greatest lesson a person can take from that parable for encouragement if they need it?
As long as you have breath in your body, a second chance is available. God always offers us a second chance. Jesse walks through a broad array of challenges, and I hope readers can relate to at least one of them along the way—if not the particular circumstance, perhaps the core emotions beneath it. Because it’s easy to forget ministers and their families are regular human beings like we are, we tend to place them on pedestals. Jesse’s fall from such a pedestal made for a much more dramatic illustration.
3) Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional writer? What was the process like for you? What have you learned about yourself as you’ve struggled to see that dream of writing fulfilled?
I wrote my first short story at eight year old and fell in love with it. At ten, I decided to become a novelist when I grew up. But at that age, I had no idea how to complete a long-term project, so I gave up on it. Without delving into the details, it took a couple of decades to come full circle. For many years, though I focused on songwriting as a hobby, I literally looked at my novelist dream as dead—I literally used that word, “dead,” to describe it.
For the final few years before I returned to the goal of writing a novel, I felt so dead and dry inside—couldn’t even motivate myself to put a story, song, or anything else on paper. But the desire burned in me, so I couldn’t ignore the predicament. Perhaps God used those years to prepare me so that once I received the opportunity, I wouldn’t let go of it for anything. When God drops something into your heart, you can try to escape it—but it will nag at you inside until you face it.
4) “From The Dead” was just recently released (and I wish you the very best, by the way!). So I know you have your hands full getting the word out about it. But are you currently working on any other projects? What can readers look forward to seeing in the future by John Herrick?
I’m on the lookout for the next novel. I have a couple of ideas in mind. Typically, I go through a brainstorm period where I’m more sensitive to stimuli around me, such as songs, news stories, and my dreams (I seldom remember my dreams unless I’m pondering book ideas). Eventually, after I’ve primed the pump for a while, a concept seems to rise up in my gut when I’m not looking for it. But I do believe it will be another human-heart type of story with a similar straightforward, honest tone. I keep wanting to write a romantic comedy, but it’s hard to resist a solid drama where I can dig down into the deepest recesses of a character’s heart and soul.
Thanks very much, Kent. I wish you the best on your books, too!
5) Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Hobbies? Fun stuff?
I love to follow politics. I’m a junkie that way. As far as fun stuff goes, by the time the weekend rolls around, all I want to do is get a latte and bury myself in a book at a Starbucks or Panera Bread! Other than that, I’ll take a beach anywhere but seldom get there!
6) I always try to ask this of all my guest authors…if you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
Never give up. You never need to!
And of course, you can pick up his book here: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-John-Herrick/dp/0982147015/ref=tmm_pap_title_0. It’s also available for the Kindle as well!