Saturday, February 11, 2006

Spotlighting: House by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker

Kill or be killed.

It was hardly the advice Jack and Stephanie Singleton were looking for to save their marriage. A road trip to a counselling session in Montgomery, Alabama goes drastically wrong and finds them lost in the backwoods. As night sets in, the “Wayside Inn” seems a godsend to the weary couple.

The Singletons’ enter the genteel Inn, hoping to find help for their desperate situation. Instead they meet Randy Messarue and Lesley Taylor, who are also road trip causalities.

With no host in sight, the couples follow the instruction note attached to the front door and sign themselves in. As the foursome contemplate the dining table lavishly set for four, the lights flicker and die, leaving the guests in the dark. When the lights mysteriously come back on, the Inn’s hosts also appear; Betty, Stewart, and Pete.

It soon becomes apparent that this is no ordinary Inn.

Welcome to White’s house.

Barsidious White has three simple rules for his house:

1) God came to my house and I killed him.

2) I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God.

3) Give me one dead body and I might let rule two slide.

Jack, Stephanie, Randy, and Lesley are soon caught up in a cruel game in a house that seems to know their every move.

Constructive Comments

This is not your average haunted house story. When you combine the minds of two of the masters in the supernatural thriller genre, you expect something beyond typical. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker deliver an edge-of-your-seat plot encapsulating a theme that will leave you reflecting on its ramifications for a long time after.

Peretti and Dekker refuse to whitewash the true nature of evil or their villains. In HOUSE, Barsidious White is the embodiment of evil. As far as White is concerned, the guilty must die, and everyone is guilty. In White’s house, evil is pitched against evil.

HOUSE sets out to epitomise the human heart. Nothing we do can clean our hearts of the evil that resides within. So if the wages of sin is death, and we have all sinned, then why should we be allowed to live? This is the question Peretti and Dekker tackle in this enthralling novel that touches the very heart of its readers.

As a reader more familiar with Dekker’s past work than Peretti’s, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with this collaboration. The writing is flawless. The seamless continuity of this novel is testament to the two creative minds behind it and their commitment to a quality story.

Dekker fans will not be disappointed. HOUSE is tied into his current Project Showdown series by expanding on one of the characters from SHOWDOWN. Readers concerned about the violence depicted in SHOWDOWN shouldn’t have a problem with HOUSE. The violence is still there, it’s no less evil, but I found it more toned down.

Peretti and Dekker invite you to enter HOUSE, where losing your life could be the only way to win.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

A mini interview with Ted Dekker

Amalgamating two enormously creative minds to write one novel couldn’t be easy. How did you and Mr. Peretti deal with differences in vision while writing HOUSE?

Ultimately we divided the novel into two parts and each wrote one of those parts. Up to a certain point the writing is all his and after that point it's all mine. We advised each other, naturally, but did not step on the other's toes. What we have is a chocolate/vanilla story. Part is chocolate and part is vanilla, not necessary a blend of flavors but two flavors the compliment each other.

You’ve mentioned that co-authoring reminded you of the old adage “iron sharpens iron.” Were there any skills that you feel you sharpened due to this collaboration?


It’s been said that a lot of your novels deal with the same theme of sacrificial love. What draws you to write about this theme more often than others?

I have been a bit stuck on the theme for a string of novels, but that changes with SAINT. I suppose one of those who likes to drill down to the bottom to see what we have, and most of what we have deep down is some variation of sacrificial love. Is there a better theme than that theme which ultimately determines our fate? I've said many times that I write to explore, certainly not to preach. God's love for me is irresistible territory.

Some readers were offended by your depiction of evil in SHOWDOWN. Why do you choose to show evil in its ugliest form?

I don't show evil in its ugliest form, not even close. But I refuse to be complicit with evil by characterizing it in a way that hides its true color. The notion that writers of faith should dull the cutting edge of evil in their stories is very nearly heretical. Certainly offensive to the hero who defeated the evil villains we seek to characterize. David didn't defeat a dwarf in a pink leotard; he killed a terrible giant that had the armies of Israel shaking in their boots. If I read about Goliath and feel no fear of him, I see no great victory in David's feat. How dare we undermine the true nature of that horrible villain called evil, which our hero defeated on the cross.

You have a gift for crafting stories that portray the true nature of the human heart in a way that impacts your readers. Are there experiences in your life that you draw on?

A writer can only write out of their own experience of the world, both observed and felt. I haven't experienced what many of my characters have experienced, no. But their experiences are extrapolated from my own.

You use the house as a reflection of the human heart. The most striking portrayal of this for me was when Susan spoke. Why do you think it is so hard for some people to hear the truth?

For the same reason people in Jesus' time had a hard time hearing the truth he spoke. Their hearts are fixed. It seems to be a condition that is as prevalent among those who call themselves Christians as among those who do not :-)

What do readers have to look forward to in the near future from Ted Dekker?

Ahhhhh.... The future. After House comes Saint, the best novel I've yet written I think. I love Saint. Very much like Thr3e, yet with a Showdown twist as it is influenced by what happened there, though in no way dependant on a reading of Showdown or House. I am now working on a novel called Town, a story about the beautiful side of evil. It could be seen as a sequel to House because it is connected to Showdown like House is. Nevertheless, very different from either.

Then comes Siren and Sinner. I've written neither. Then on to four other novels I have banging around my head.

Thr3e the Movie is in post production now. House will be shot later this year. The next movie I'd like to tackle if we can line up the right studio is the Trilogy; Black, Red, White. These are my best selling and most talked about books, bar none, and I think they would once again immortalize the story of our own redemptive history.

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Available April 2006
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