Cross-Interviewing ~ Terric Darken and Nike Chillemi ~ Newbie Authors

Teric, we’re both the new kidz on the block in what is being called Indie/alternative publishing houses friendly to Christian themed novels. You’re with a very small press that takes chances and I’m with an ebook publishing house that has been at the forefront in publishing Christian stories.

I think it’s going to be fun throwing questions back and forth about our experiences. Then this interview is going to be put up on both of our blogs.

NC:  Teric, you, and I are both newbie authors at what is now being termed Indie/Alternative Christian publishing houses. You’re the new kid on the block at TreasureLine and I’m new at Desert Breeze. You must’ve been excited when they offered you a contract for your new novel WICKFLICKER.. I know I was ecstatic when I got my contract. Did you turn cartwheels or go for a ride on your motorcycle to celebrate?

TD:  LOL!  No, I didn’t turn cartwheels or go motorcycle riding. Writing has taken SERIOUS time away from my riding. Writing and riding: the two sound the same but are two totally different beasts! Maybe I should try motorcycle writing… kill two birds with one stone. On the other hand, I would need both hands for both, so that might be a bad idea. I surmise that all would grow dark very quickly for the Darken if I tried it. So much for motorcycle writing. I believe I played air guitar like a madman and told my wife — the illustrious Mrs. Darken — a million times that TreasureLine held interest in my works. Yes, I was very happy and grateful that they took interest in me.

I am not an official spokesman for TreasureLine, but I should probably mention that they are not an “Explicitly Christian “publisher. TreasureLine features many great titles ranging from varying genres: from romance to children’s books to thrillers. However, there are a few genres that the company refuses to publish. The proprietor as a great deal of integrity… in my humble opinion.

So, Nike, how did you feel when you first received the publishing news from Desert Breeze? You’re pretty spunky and feisty (a true redhead!)… You didn’t go out and punch a Hell’s Angel in the face amidst all of your excitement, did you? If I’m not mistaken, you signed on for a three book series:  BURNING HEARTS, GOODBYE NOEL… and I’m not sure if you’ve ever disclosed the title of your third novel to me. Can you share?

Another question that I’ve always meant to ask you:  Did you create the term “Crime Fictionista?” It’s very catchy…very cool… 

NC: I was blown away when I was signed with Desert Breeze. It was really a dream come true. Though I do believe I know where in the bowels of Gotham (NYC) to find a Hell’s Angel, I restrained myself and didn’t punch a Hell’s Angel in the face. I did get a three book deal, which was beyond my wildest dreams. BURNINGHEARTS, my debut novel is out. I’m tweaking GOODBYE NOEL which will be out at Christmas. It’s in the tradition of many fine holiday murder mysteries. There’s a body under the Christmas tree. I can divulge the title of the third book in the series, but I’m not gonna. I’m going to keep everyone in suspense.

As far as the term Crime Fictionista, I’m not sure if I created it or not. I have a bridal industry background. I’m a graduate of NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the finest fashion schools in the world. I was very familiar with the term fashionista. So, I thought why not crime fictionista. I googled all over the place and didn’t come up with anyone else using it… so it’s entirely possible that I created the term.

Teric, I’m going to turn to something a bit more serious… the division everyone’s talking about in the Christian writing community. Our fellow board member at the Grace Awards, Tracy Krauss, just wrote a blog article concerning this very subject, “To CBA or Not to CBA.” http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/2011/06/to-cba-or-not-to-cba-that-is-question.html The Independent/Alternative, edgy/gritty writers seem to be in one camp and the traditional, CBA writers seem to be in the other.

It seems everyone’s writing on this. In her article Tracy mentions Mike Duran’s article, “Why Christians Can’t Agree About Christian Fiction.” http://mikeduran.com/?p=12734 Mike suggests the division in the Christian writing community reflects a more profound division with in the church, different ways of viewing Christianity.

Teric, what do you think, could that those Christians who feel called to live out in the world see the church in different terms than those who feel they should stay removed from the world? I personally don’t see the church as a building. I believe the church is wherever two or more Christians are gathered. So, the church could be on a mean, violent street corner is two or more Christians are there. Does that make sense to you?

TD:  Yes, it makes sense to me, and I believe as you do, Nike: the Church is where two or more are gathered in His name; it is not four walls. The Church is the people: One Body, many parts, with Christ being the Head of the Body.

Here was my response to Tracy Krauss’s post: The answer to your question from my point of view:  Yes, there is definitely room for everyone.

“Honesty vs. Holiness…” My take is honesty AND holiness, and by holiness, I don’t mean that in a puritanical sense. Remember when Jesus took the whip and drove out the “robbers” in the temple (John 2:15)? Was that not a little bit of violence happening there? Wasn’t that a bit of honesty and holiness happening at the same time? A bit of righteous and holy anger?

What about when Elijah had the 450 prophets of Ba’alslain (1 Kings 18:40)? Again, there was violence, righteous anger, and holiness happening at the same time. I could use many more examples from the Bible, but I think the point has been made: there is room for honesty and holiness.

To CBA or not to CBA, that is the question. I’m thinking about the apostles Paul and Peter right now. Peter was more inclined to minister to the Jewish congregation (the church), and Paul began taking itto the streets, by setting out on journeys and focusing on the Gentiles…thus, he left the four walls of the church… a more out-into-the-world approach.

Both were relevant; both approaches were needed and were a part of the Master’s plan in drawing all men to Him. Such is the same with writers holding to a Christian worldview. There is a need to exhort those within the walls of the church, and a need to reach those outside of those walls, whether by witnessing to the lost, or by calling out to wayward souls who may have wandered away from the Shepherd.

Jesus, our chief example in all things, did both: He spoke to those in the temple and they were astonished at His teachings…”Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” Mat. 13:55. He also went out into the world and spoke with the “less than desirables,” telling it like it is. Example: the Samaritan woman at the well… “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:18.

A resounding YES! There is room for both types of writers: Those ministering to those inthe fold, and those who minister to those outside of the fold. Two different types of callings; both serving the will of True and Living God.

I conclude with Romans 10:4- “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

Whether a writer is called to minister to the congregation through their works, or called to reach the lost, both are hitting the people where they live. Both are needed, and ALL are on the same team.

My works are avant garde; I write to reach the lost and the wayward. I write in honesty: telling it like it is which is sometimes unsavory, and I write in holiness. All of the honesty only serves to expose the darkness and our dire need for the Light of the World: the Way, Truth, and Life. I also include scripture references at the end of my books to show the firm foundation that my stories are built upon.

I am not in competition with any author, be they those who write for the Church, or those who script for the lost and wayward. It should never be brother against brother, sister against sister. That is the only tragedy in all of this.

What matters is that we are obeying God’s will and calling. May we all keep writing the good write!

I know you write from the “honesty AND holiness” point of view, Nike, again, not meaning holiness in a puritanical sense but rather from a Christian worldview. What methods do you incorporate into your writings to share God’s word and “keep-it-real/authentic/plausible” at the same time?

NC: Wow, I’m looking at your answer, noting Jesus going into the temple with a whip and Elijah with the 450 prophets of Ba’alslain…the Bible is a bit gritty. I write gritty action scenes with some violence, so this is indeed comforting.

I love your Peter and Paul analogy. Peter preaching in the temple (to the church) and Paul to the Gentiles (out in the street). As I recall my Bible lessons, there were some strong feelings between Peter and Pau when they realized they had two different concepts of the church. As in, they had words. And you are right, both Peter and Paul were needed. Peter founded the Semitic church in Jerusalem, which parented many of the churches that still exist and are standing in the gap in the Islamic world today. For his part, Paul taught the Gentile church the huge debt it had to the Jewish church in Jerusalem. Just as we Indie/Alternative, edgy/gritty Christian writers owe a huge debt to the CBA/traditional writers who have come before us. We are, in many cases, standing on the shoulders of giants.

I believe the darkness has to be exposed. It has to be uncovered. When someone in the world is adamant that there is no God, all the witnessing in the world may not convince him/her. But if you can show this worldly person that the devil exists, now you’ve got their attention. See, they also don’t believe the devil exists. That is the best trick of the enemy to convince humans he doesn’t exist. If we can show those in the world where this actual evil, palpable evil exists… they will likely be able to admit the devil is real. If there is a devil that powerful to wreak havoc all over the world, then, it stands to reason there is an all-powerful God. That’s why I show evil in my books.

Now, in BURNING HEARTS I don’t go over the top with edgy or gritty. It’s a historical novel set in 1946 and is sweet romance where two young people fall in love. I open with a blazing house fire that becomes an inferno. I try to capture the ferocity of the fire. I have action scenes that get pretty gritty. I never get gratuitous and I always stay true to the characters, but I won’t white wash either.

Teric, tell me about your new book coming out via TreasureLine Publishing.

TD:  WICKFLICKER is an allegory liberally injected with supernatural and thrilling elements. The story is loaded with grit and bite-telling it like it is-by following a wayward soul at an end-of-semester college bash. Temptations flow freely as if spewing from a keg, and the party-goer aims to drink every last drop. At the end of the day, the central character finds himself in a life or death struggle:  Will he choose the way that seems right to a man or the path of wisdom? WICKFLICKER is slated to lurk the streets summer 2011.

Nike, we now know that BURNING HEARTS is book one in a three-part series and that it’s a work of historical fiction set in the 40’s, opening up with both guns blazing via a roaring inferno. In your opinion, what sets BURNING HEARTS apart from other works in its genre? What personal techniques have you injected into it to give it that “something extra”?

NC: BURNING HEARTS is unique in that it’s an equal measure of suspense, action, and romance, with some humor thrown in. It’s a sweet romance because the characters are young and inexperienced in love. It’s got tons of suspense and high action scenes. The opening chapter erupts into a fiery inferno as heroine Erica Brogna’s friends house burns. Lorne Kincade arrives on his Harley Davidson and is able to get Erica’s friend out, but she succumbs to her injuries and dies at the hospital. Erica and Lorne then embark on their own investigation, searching for the arsonist murderer. Needless to say, the murderer has a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Her tries to frame Lorne for the crime.

This has been a cross-communication, cross-interview experiment. Two friends tossing ideas around about our work as writers and the world of Christian publishing. This interview can also be seen on Teric Darken’s Blog, Dark Domain: Realm of Author. http://tericdarken.blogspot.com/

WICFLICKER purchase links…

TreasureLine Books.  http://treasurelinebooks.com/default.aspx

Will be available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

BURNING HEARTS purchase links…

Desert Breeze Publishing. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-167/Nike-Chillemi-Sanctuary-Point/Detail.bok

Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One-ebook/dp/B0050PJSTY/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

Barnes & Noble. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One/Nike-Chillemi/e/2940012411747/?itm=1&USRI=nike+chillemi

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About NikeChillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards. View all posts by NikeChillemi

5 responses to “Cross-Interviewing ~ Terric Darken and Nike Chillemi ~ Newbie Authors

  • Tracy Krauss

    I already posted on Teric's blog, but thought I'd do the same here. I love this idea – to banter back and forth. it's brilliant! There is definitely a different energy than in a normal interview. As far as the reference to my blog post on 'CBA' fiction, it has definitely been a HOT HOT topic! Mike Duran's post is still getting comments, too. Hundreds in fact! My latest post is a follow up to the discussion title 'Marketing Quandary For Edgy Christian Writers' . Blessingswww.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Tracy, Yes, it's a hot, hot topic. I saw the reaction on Mike's blog. There are so many who want to read the type of novel that has been supressed in the past. The small presses are a good thing.

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  • jude

    Nike and Teric, a fantastic post. I'd say you both are two newbies going far! Congratulations.Jude Urbanski

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Jude,Wonderful to hear the kind words your offer.

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  • Sue Dent

    CBA is a "closed" market Tracy. The fact that they've cornered the label "Christian" market when they only provide "targeted" fiction to a very select group of readers (that being Baptist Book Store visitors in the 1950's when they "evolved,") is discouraging at best. ECPA did make a valiant effort when they broke away from CBA and formed the "Evangelical Christian" Publisher's Association. C. S. Lewis is most likely turning over his grave about this as his work if put out today, wouldn't qualify AT ALL! In fact, those publishers wouldn't give him the time of day. They only reason he's in their stores now is because of the money and they were able to "spin" his stories to not offend their very "touchy" market. CBA proponents have been debating what Christian fiction is since they hog-tied the label years ago. I doubt they'll stop anytime soon. God help us all. Their market, straight from CBA.org "evangelicals and some Catholics." Well isn't that nice of them. Okay, I'll go back to my own blog now. ;D*waves at Nike*T

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