Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How much rope do you give yourself when diving into the minds of killers, cops, and bystanders who have no set religious affiliation?

I think it’s vital to be honest in the way we portray our characters, whatever their religious views might be. I’m a Christian and inevitably approach writing from that point-of-view. I believe that there is one good and gracious God who’s both loving and just, that good and evil exist in our world, that our lives are beautiful but marred by pain, that hope and redemption are ultimately available only through faith in Jesus Christ.

These beliefs about the world—that our lives and choices matter to God, that evil is real, that justice and love will prevail, that redemption is available—affect the stories that I tell and the way that I tell them. If I were to tell a story that glamorized evil or celebrated the things that God abhors, I wouldn’t be writing in a way that is congruent with my convictions. My stories are by no means sermons, but you’ll see themes related to these issues of justice and evil, of hope and love and accountability woven through almost all of the stories I write.

Whenever I’m writing from the perspective of someone who doesn’t believe the same things as I do, I strive to be as honest as I can in portraying that character’s views and beliefs.

But how much rope do I give myself when the character I’m writing about (say for example, a serial killer) has different views of justice, of sin, or accountability to our Creator? Well, I do my best to step into that character’s head and write what he or she would naturally think. And, yes, sometimes it’s frightening. In a few cases, it’s been terrifying.

When I was writing Opening Moves, the villain named Joshua (don’t worry, that’s not a plot spoiler), really startled me in how he viewed people and how alluring it was to him to cause pain in their lives. I had nightmares writing a few of the scenes in this book. I suppose that’s one of the drawbacks of entering into your writing on such an emotional level—it can’t help but affect your emotions. But honestly, I don’t know any other way to write.


  1. You're an artist, Steven. Your villains reek of evil even in their chameleon states. Your love of justice shows up with the conflict humans face in meting it without grace. Joshua was horrendous. I'd be worried about you if you didn't suffer some kind of "trouble" creating him. ;)

  2. I've read all the Bower's Files books and to be honest was a little disappointed that The King didn't come after The Queen. But, after reading Opening Moves (began on Christmas Day) I completely regret any dissension I felt earlier. This is by far your creepiest, darkest, and most horrifying book. I had to throw the book once or twice ( kind of like in the never ending story) when some cannibalistic parts came out. Or reading those actual interviews with Ted Oswald and his father - I couldn't tell if I should keep reading or not. But am glad I did. Because that's what intrigues me most about your books - you depict the dark side of the world and don't pretty it up or make it swallowable. You give us the ugliness, but you also give us the beauty and light all woven into an intense story. I thank you for both darkening and enlightening me. Isn't that the gospel? We're all much worse than we think, but much more loved than we dare hope. I'm now re-reading your "Sailing Between the Stars" for good illustrations in some of my sermons. Have you ever thought of Waco, Texas as the setting for you next book? Lots of history here. I'm just saying....

    Thanks for all you do!


    1. Yes, I'll need to consider Waco.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

    2. Yes, I'll need to consider Waco.
      Thanks for your thoughts.