Monday, April 4, 2011


Darrell James

Storytelling is an art. It’s also maybe a science. Stephen King has related the relationship between writer and reader as a kind of mental telepathy, where thoughts and ideas are exchanged through words and word pictures. A means of lifting imaginings from one psyche to imprint them emotionally on another.

It’s magic really. And awesomely wonderful to boot. It inspires questions from readers and aspiring writers alike about how the process of creating a story takes place. And what makes a story work? The most often asked question is “Where do you get your ideas?” The answer is always “anywhere” and “everywhere”. (A truthful but not very helpful response.) My answer is that I usually start with an idea that simply intrigues me. Something that I find personally fascinating, a tickle of curiosity. My goal, in starting, is to tell myself a “really great story”. And do so in a way that fills my imagination. My assumption is that if I can thrill myself beyond belief, then others will thrill as well.

From there, the work begins. Characters must be imagined and brought to life. Relationships are defined. Conflict must arise. (Good is almost always pit against evil.) And a hero or heroine, with much to lose, must emerge to right the wrong, and do so against all odds. (Or at least that’s my approach.)

My forthcoming novel, NAZARETH CHILD, was conceived in just this manner. An idea that has always fascinated me (the idea on which this book is founded) is the idea of charismatic power. That found in the likes of Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite (You remember, Do, the Haven’s Gate guy?), self-proclaimed prophets and messiahs. Who are these dominant types? From where does their power to influence come? What motivates them? What secret of life do they possess (or believe they possess)? And, why… seemingly against all reason… do thousands, sometimes millions, follow?

The story introduces Del Shannon, a young female investigator who works for Desert Sands Covert in Tucson, a firm that specializes in finding and recovering missing persons. She’s smart and tough, but mostly she’s determined. A woman in a man’s world. Del enters this debut novel already well acknowledged as being good at what she does. Ironically, despite a lifelong search, the one person Del has never been able to find is the mother she’s never known. Secrets surround her mother’s existence. And her father, Roy Shannon, has guarded those secrets with vengeful determination. Even the family Bible’s genealogy pages have been torn away to conceal the past.

Whatever became of Ella Shannon?

When a seemingly unrelated federal investigation, into the infamous, faith healer, Silas Rule, brings authorities to her door, Del learns of an abandoned property in the clannish hill community of Nazareth Church, Kentucky— surprisingly still owned by her father. There, Del’s quest takes her into confrontation with this charismatic leader, who seems to hold the key. Is her mother alive or dead? And what secrets does the healer work to conceal? Only through Silas will Del find the answers. But can she survive the truth?

It’s an emotionally charged tale of love and retribution. I thrilled to writing it. I hope you’ll thrill to reading it.

NAZARETH CHILD is scheduled for release, from Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing, in September. It is currently available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon.

"James cranks up the tension while spinning a classic tale of good versus evil.” —Paul Levine, author of Lassiter.


Lois Winston said...

Sounds like a great book, Darrell. Is this the first in a series?

G.M. Malliet said...

Really sounds like a gripping read.

And your timing is uncanny. On April 8, a former FBI hostage negotiator who dealt with some dangerously charismatic leaders is our guest here at Inkspot.

Beth Groundwater said...

This book sounds fascinating, Darrell! Good luck with it.

Alan Orloff said...

I can't wait to read this! I'm also fascinated by "cult" leaders, and even more so, the people that follow them. Best of luck with it!

Kathleen Ernst said...

Congrats on the upcoming release, which sounds terrific. Great cover, too!

I also loved your phrase "tickle of curiosity." That's exactly it, and when I get started on a new project, I can't explain why this particular tidbit was the one which tickled my curiosity. It just does.

Deborah Sharp said...

Great idea for a thriller, Darrell. As a reporter, I covered some of the fallout from Heaven's Gate; my husband was in Waco for the duration of the awful standoff there with David Koresh and followers. Those types of leaders -- and followers -- give a novelist a lot to work with. Kudos, and congrats on your upcoming Nazareth Child (main character sounds like a winner, too!)

Darrell James said...

Thnaks for the votes of confidence and good wishes.

Gin- the hostage negotiator sounds interesting. I'll look forward to it.

Kathleen- I know what you mean. Certain ideas just seem to hold fascination and demand to be explored.

Darrell James said...

Ellen Dahl at Midnight designed the cover. I love it! What a fantastic job she did of graphically capturing the intrigue of the story.

G.M. Malliet said...

Deb - "My" hostage negotiator was at Waco. I think you'll want to stop by the blog on the 8th - your husband may know him (Gary Noesner).

Darrell James said...

Deb- David Koresh was one that intrigued me too. I read his letters to his congregation (that can be found online)as part of the research for my antagonist. It's a little bit frightening to see the mega-ego at work.

Julia Buckley said...

Sounds fascinating, Darrell. Did you purposely choose the name Del Shannon because of the singer?

Alice Loweecey said...

It sounds great, Darrell!

Keith Raffel said...

Can't wait.

Dee Ann said...

You forgot Hitler, Darrell.

I think it was Heaven's Gate (not Haven), and your story sounds terrific. I think many people are interested in what makes criminals tick and whatever power cult leaders wield to create a following.

I knew the uncle of two young white women who died at Jonestown. They were very idealistic. Their family was devastated.

Dee Ann Palmer

Darrell James said...

Julia- I didn't specically choose the name for the song artist (My Little Runaway) but did think ot might resonate and be memprable to readers.