1. You have mentioned before that there are two types of Christian films: “those made by Christians for Christians, and those made by Christians for the public.” Which category is your book Water’s Edge in?
My hope is that Water’s Edge will appeal to both the general and Christian reading audiences. The Christian elements of my stories are part of the fabric of the characters, and, as is the case in real life, spirituality is a common aspect of most people’s life experiences.
2. How much research did you do on Ponzi Schemes? Were you ever afraid of digging too deep?
As an attorney I am familiar with the legal structure of Ponzi schemes. I read court filings in a well-known Ponzi case to find out details of the plan and how those behind it operated.
3. The Christian message throughout your novel is not presented in a forward or brash style, but seems to be effortlessly woven in, like reading a fable that could be applied to a myriad of faiths. Were you conscious of this subtle approach to Christian writing?
Yes, this is intentional and ties in with my answer to Question 1; however, I strive to be true to biblical Christianity in what is portrayed as truth worth believing.
4. If Water’s Edge becomes a film, like several of your other works, whom would you want to play Tom? Who would play his dad?
James Franco or Channing Tatum would be great for Tom. His father could be Dennis Quaid or Kurt Russell.
5. You have managed to continue practicing law, in North Carolina, while becoming a very prolific writer. How do you find the time to write, be an attorney and have a fulfilling family life?
I try to exercise self-discipline and a willingness to be flexible in sorting through competing demands on my time. As my father used to say, “There is only so much toothpaste in the tube.” I’ve also cultivated the courage to say, “No.”
6. How involved are you in the creative process of turning one of your novels into a screenplay? Do you find yourself struggling to keep elements of your written work within a director’s vision?
I have been one of the screenwriters for all adaptations of my novels for film. The goal is to remain true to my vision, recognizing that much has to be cut or combined. I make the final call on those decisions. It can be a struggle, but I know it has to be done and do it.
7. Water’s Edge is a thriller, but there are elements of comedy within the book. Did you know the book would have several laugh out loud moments?
I always try to have dry humor in my books since that’s part of my day to day life with my buddies at the law firm and other friends. Humor is hard to do but worth it when it works.
8. What does it mean to be a successful writer to you?
To be a positive influence in the life of a reader. I’m okay with those who read solely for entertainment, but I’m energized by those who glean something from the characters that helps or encourages them in real life. I’ve been inspired by some of my characters and want to be more like them!
9. Despite the subtlety of the Christian message in Water’s Edge it can still reach a more general audience. Who is your target audience?
Please see my response to Question 1.
10. I recently read that a publisher has never rejected you; do you wish you started writing books sooner?
Before I moved to NC I was so busy with my law practice that I wouldn’t have had time to write a novel. Also, it was necessary for me to live life for 42 years (my age in 1996) before I was competent to start writing about it.
11. Have you used any particularly volatile or peculiar trials from your real life experience in your books?
There are scenes based on actual courtroom experiences, but it’s a lot more fun when I can control what the witnesses, lawyers, and judges do. In the novel I’m currently working on there is a major plot thread related to adoption. My wife is adopted so she has been my textbook.
12. Have you ever considered writing a Southern cookbook? Almost every meal in Water’s Edge sounds enticing, particularly the Cornish game hens with herb dressing and stewed squash. Who’s the chef at your house?
I cook a few things, but my wife and older daughter are the chief chefs in our family. People like food (we need it to survive) and it is a way to add texture to the stories.
13. In Water’s Edge it appears to be Tom’s father that wanted him to continue finding his faith, was there anyone instrumental in helping you find God?
I was strongly influenced by my maternal grandmother who spent a lot of time answering my questions and prayed regularly for me.
14. In a previous interview you mentioned that an aspect of your mission as a Christian writer was to produce novels with “skill and integrity,” the same words that lead Tom to a particular psalm verse and clue in the Water’s Edge. When do you feel you’ve accomplished this in a book?
I meet this goal when a novel communicates the plot and message in a seamless way that pulls the reader into the story.
15. Which do you enjoy more: winning a case or writing a best-seller?
Both have their rewards. With a legal case it can change a person’s life in a specific way. A novel can have a broad impact in multiple ways.