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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Author Interview ~ Frank Peretti, Part I

Frank Peretti's books have sold more than 12 million copies. He is the co-author of House, the author of Monster as well as the international bestsellers The Oath and This Present Darkness. The Oath (1995) has sold more than a million copies and was awarded the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best fiction. Peretti lives with his wife Barbara in the Pacific Northwest. Visit his website at

Gina Holmes: Thank you for giving us this interview. It’s pretty early where you are, right?

Frank Peretti: It’s not too bad.

Gina: You've had your coffee?

Frank: Wheat Chex.

Gina: I just finished House. I thought it was a nice blend of your and Ted’s writing styles. I read in a recent interview that you would not collaborate again. Is that a fair assessment?

Frank: Not collaborate with anyone or not collaborate with Ted ?

Gina: I took it as not collaborate at all.

Frank: I don’t think so.

Gina: What about it was so difficult?

Frank: Well, Ted and I have totally different writing styles. It was an incompatibility in terms of how to put a story together. It was a struggle to figure out how to put it together. Just the logistics. Since we seem to have totally opposite visions of what the story should be, we were like okay what should we do? Stephen King and Straub wrote a book together and they got along so well they each took a chapter.

I finally said, Ted this is your concept you go ahead and call the shots and I’ll do what you want me to do.

It’s essentially a Ted Dekker book with Peretti pitching in wherever he can.

Gina: If I didn’t know who had written it, I would have to guess Dekker and Peretti. It seems to be both of your styles.

Frank: Well, that’s what we wanted. What we ended up with was something neither of us would have written alone.

Gina: What advice would you have for two writers getting ready to collaborate for the first time?

Frank: Other than don’t do it [laughing]. No, I guess you just need to know who you’re collaborating with. With Jerry Jenkins and Tim La Haye on the Left Behind books, Tim was the theologian behind them and Jerry did the writing but they didn’t actually write the story together. So, that sounded nifty. I don’t know. You have to get two writers who approach things the same way. I’m just fussy and Ted’s fussy, that’s what it boils down to.

Gina: I’m sure that’s how you got where you are.

Frank: Probably so.

Gina: With House you said, basically you started it and Ted finished it.

Frank: Yeah, basically Ted said, “Just get the people to the basement, Frank, and I’ll take if from there.” And so I got the people to the basement. We cross checked each other. I had input and suggestions.

Gina: Did you edit one another?

Frank: No, our editor Erin Healey did that. She was like a quilter. Taking all these pieces and sewing them together. Getting all the inconsistencies and contradictions out. How come this guy is popping out of here and coming in there. It had to make sense. She was almost a third author.

Gina: Wow, that’s quite a compliment. Is the movie being filmed right now?

Frank: Pre-production.

Gina: Is this going to be a big Hollywood type of blockbuster, limited release or what?

Frank: That depends on what Twentieth Century Fox is going to do. Usually their biggest interest in this is the DVD sales.

Gina: I thought this novel moved along at breakneck speed and read in places like a screenplay almost.

Frank: Oh sure, it’s the stuff a good movie is made of. I don’t think they can mess it up too much.

Gina: What do you think Ted’s greatest strengths as a writer are?

Frank: Unlimited rapid fire imagination. That guy has so many ideas so fast. He boggles the mind. I don’t know how he does it. He can turn out books so quickly. Bam. Bam. Bam. I’m more of a quiet, meticulous planner. I think about a book. I ponder it. I outline it. He just sits down and writes it. Sometimes I think I’m Salieri to his Mozart.

Gina: [Laughs] How did you learn the craft of writing?

Frank: I read a lot of books. I picked it up piece by piece over the years. I took a fiction writing correspondence course. I didn’t finish it, but I learned a lot. I studied screen and playwriting at UCLA. I just picked it up.

I’m still learning. It’s a continual process. I look at This Present Darkness and there’s so many ways I would have written it differently.

Gina: I read your first book back to back with Monster and thought, wow. The way that you’ve evolved as a writer is just amazing. You’ve gotten so much tighter in your writing. Did that come from editors you’ve worked with over the years?

Frank: Good question. Working with editors would have something to do with it. Continual work on screenplays would have something to do with it. Another thing and this is a little odd but condensing my books for audio books. Because as I would do those condensations, it was amazing to me how much I could cut simply because it wasn’t needed. Remarkable. That’s one of the main differences and you really pointed that out correctly. I read the darkness books and am amazed at how blabby they are. A lot of extra verbiage is there that’s not necessary.

The tendency these days at least with the more popular genres is to write tighter. In the old literary days, you had these thick books that went into long descriptions back in the days when people read just for pure pleasure. Now with our visually oriented society and the TV, it’s the story. Go on. Move it. What’s going to happen next? Keep the pages turning.

It’s interesting how fiction is adjusting to the state of the culture.

Less is usually more.

Gina: Speaking of Monster, I wondered how in the world you pitched that premise. It’s an incredibly wild story. I thought it was fantastic but I wondered how you presented that to an editor?

Frank: I think the way it worked was I started working on this story as a children’s book. The more I worked on it, the more I thought I could expand it and make it an adult book. The more I researched that phenomenon, it was just so intriguing. And then I met with the publisher.

Gina: Allen Arnold?

Frank: Yeah, Allen. I was really pumped about this. I began to tell him this story and kind of act it out.

Gina: So, you put on a performance.

Frank: Oh yeah. He was sitting there all wide-eyed. My managers were there and they said they wished they had a video tape, they’d never seen Frank so excited.

Gina: You think it was your enthusiasm that sold it?

Frank: I think so, but it was a good story.

Gina: Oh, it’s a great story but I just can’t imagine that a new author would be able to pitch it and get it bought.

To be continued tomorrow...


  1. Great interview so far. Thanks!

    Post part two EARLY tomorrow, Gina.
    5:30 Central would be early enough.

    : )

  2. Good interview so far! Anxiously awaiting the next installment. :0

  3. Just wanted to say thank you to Mr. Peretti for the interview. He was so much fun to talk to. Humble and kind.

    Thanks for the comments Kelly and Cheryl.

  4. Excellent interview.

    It was Frank Peretti that opened the door for guys like me.

    Looking forward to tomorrow's interview.

  5. This is incredible. I love Peretti. Can't wait for the next parts ... !

  6. Great interview thus far, Gina. Perhaps Mr. Peretti should read YOUR book. He might reconsider colaboration. You write a pretty good eery fiction.

    Excellent interview, can't wait for the rest.

  7. Cindy, you're shameless but that's part of why I love you.

    Brandt, that's why this was such an honor. He kicked it open for me too (except then it closed again :)

  8. How very nice to find I'm finally in good company! LOL - All you SOTP writers can weep. Frank Peretti is a quiet, meticulous planner. He thinks about a book. He ponders it. He outlines it. My hero! ;o)Thanks, Frank. I'm finally validated!! LOL

  9. Thanks for the perspectives, Frank. And hey, I'll still read your "blabby" stuff any day.

  10. Great interview, really look forward to part 2. :)

  11. Great interview Gina...can't wait for part II !

  12. Thnaks Bonnie, CJ, Ane, Tony and Stuart!


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