Welcome, Janet Sketchley. And congratulations!
Your first novel is now published. Can you summarize the plot for us?
Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?
Janet, you don’t read horror. Your personal tastes shy away from anything frightening. Although Heaven’s Prey is ultimately a story of hope, it tackles some pretty dark themes. Why did you write this particular story?
Sometimes I pray for people I see in the news, either victims or villains. One day this question hit me: it’s one thing to pray for an offender locked away in jail, but what would you do if you met the person face to face?
The idea wouldn’t go away, and the characters of Ruth and Harry took up residence in my imagination. Essentially, I started writing their story to get them out of my head. It’s not based on anyone’s actual experience.
Do you know someone who’s been a victim of crime?
Crime rates being what they are, probably more of my friends have been victims of crime than I realize, but this story isn’t based on anyone’s real experience.
How did you handle the unpleasant stuff? Not just the writing techniques you used, but how did you keep yourself from sinking into that darkness?
Ground rule #1: if I didn’t “ask” Harry for specifics about his crimes, he wasn’t to “volunteer” the information. I don’t know a lot of the gory details. It would have been too much for me, and for my readers.
Even so, there were parts of the story that I chose not to write at night. I wrote them in summary, with a distant feel, and had to make myself delve deeper to make them real. I took lots of breaks, played lots of worship music between times, and read light fiction.
What do you hope people will take away from your novel?
Whatever happens, Jesus will be there.
That’s something I tell myself whenever fearful “what if” questions try to steal my peace. Ruth’s experiences in Heaven’s Prey prove to her heart what her head has already known about God: He is trustworthy and He never leaves us.
What did you gain from writing this novel? What’s your personal take-away?
Ruth’s story let me explore some of my own fears from a safe distance. I’m a work in progress, but it helped me grow. Also, this was my first major fiction project, and thinking about the characters’ motivations has helped me develop a better understanding of real people. I’m more likely to wonder about what’s inside now instead of taking them at face value.
Where do you go from here?
Onward! I’m happiest when I’m writing fiction, and as long as God keeps giving me a devotional every week, I’ll keep blogging.
What’s your next project?
I’m working on the next Redemption’s Edge novel, Secrets and Lies. Different characters, different situation, but suspense and danger will ensue. There may even be some romance…
Thank you, Janet. I appreciate you sharing the inside track on what it takes to write uncompromising, faith-filled, fiction with an edge.
Thanks for inviting me to join you today, Jayne.
Janet Sketchley‘s novel, Heaven’s Prey, by Choose NOW Publishing, is now available. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page at Janet’s website.