As a writer, I started off writing speculative fiction. Following the advice of agents and editors, I turned to Techno-thrillers. They all told me that I should write what I know, and that was the world of military/police work. My first book, Assault on Saint Agnes, was an award winner and I’m very proud of it. But my first love was the speculative world where God is directly intervening in our lives in a tangible sort of way.
Somewhere along the way I got pulled into being a missionary. Me, a sailor and cop at heart, heading off to foreign lands to minister. The cognitive dissonance of the whole thing is ringing like a bell as I write this sentence, but that seems to be where God has led me.
As a matter of fact, He’s not only led me, but now has me leading mission teams to foreign lands. Yeah, I am a missionary.
About five years ago, after my first trip to Haiti, I had an idea for a story based on my personal experiences. It seemed to me that while I don’t highly esteem myself as a Christian, God evidently finds me useful. Author/Agent Cynthia Ruchti talks about what authors have tucked into their pages. What she’s talking about is that we bring our own needs to our writing, and sometimes the intended audience for that work is the author.
That, evidently, is the case with my new book, Nicholas of Haiti. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Nick Bacon is a life interrupted. When his commercial airline flight explodes over Utah, killing everyone on board but Nick, his miraculous survival draws unwanted attention. The press can’t get enough of his story while the FBI is convinced he planted the bomb that took down his plane. All he wants is a place to heal and time to let the world forget him. Unable to return home, Nick accepts an offer to join a missionary medical team and flees to Haiti.
But Nick’s new life in Haiti is haunted by visions. He’s forced to examine his sanity and faith in a world of turmoil and chaos among a people he’s never met before. Aided by Andre, his Haitian translator and protector, Nick confronts the dark forces battling for his soul, and the soul of the abused little girl he’s only seen in his dreams.
Because in Haiti, there’s more than just Nick’s sanity at risk. The fate of the world may now depend on Nicholas of Haiti.
Nick’s problem is one most of us face, whether we are authors or not: We don’t believe we’re important to his plan.
I attend a lovely, vibrant church. Singing and dancing are a big part of the worship. I’m an exception: I don’t sing well and dance even more ineptly. Consequently, I just sit in the pew and smile a lot. I’ve been asked about that from time to time, and I usually respond that my worship comes in my writing.
For some strange reason, I frequently forget what a powerful thing that truly is. Nicholas of Haiti isn’t just a book. It’s more than just a story. It’s a compilation of the words that God has given me to bring information, hope, and joy to an audience. He’s using me to communicate His concerns.
That sounds pretty egotistical at some levels. “Who does he think he is claiming he’s speaking for God?”
Well, there are long stretches in that book that I had no part in crafting. I just sat at the keyboard and listened while God led me to punch keys. The story wasn’t mine on the upper level. Sure, I provided the locations and the dialogue. But the story is all his. Some of the locations as well, and that’s a story worth telling here.
When I wrote the book I looked at a map of Haiti. I picked out a few places to put a couple of scenes. A few months later, I was back in Haiti on another trip. Sitting in the back of our transportation, I got chills: I’d been here before while writing the book. God had given me a vision of the scenery, and it was exactly as I’d written about it in the book. I turned to our leader and told him what was around the next bend in the road: and so it was. You see, He wants us to do a good job as Christian authors, and He gives us extra coaching and insight as well.
That’s how I became a fiction writer who switched from Techno-thrillers to Speculative fiction: God wanted me there to do His work.
I’m very proud of NICHOLAS OF HAITI, and I hope that you’ll take the time to read it, or listen to the audio book I’ve done. It’s not my first audio book by a long shot, but it is far-in-a-way the best thing I’ve ever recorded. I’ve also included study questions at the end so that it is going to be a great book for reading groups/church groups.
Now, go on about your day and listen for that voice of God in your life. It may not be a call to write a book about missionaries in Haiti, it may be about finishing a special piece of furniture, or writing a song. It could even be an excellent cake to serve your friends. But He is talking to us if we’re willing to listen.
About Joseph Courtemanche
Joseph Courtemanche is a former Police Officer and Middle East/North Africa analyst. He is a distinguished veteran of the Naval Security Group of the United States Navy, and an Arabic linguist with training at the University of Minnesota and the Defense Language Institute (Honors Graduate).
Joseph’s debut novel, Assault on Saint Agnes, won the American Christian Fiction Writers 2015 Genesis award for best novel in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category. He has been published in Splickety magazine as well. His most recent work, Nicholas of Haiti, is a departure from his debut, and is set in the mission fields of Haiti. Still a master of suspense and action, the spiritual component has ramped-up with this new work of inspirational fiction.
Joseph holds several military awards, including two flag letters of commendation for his work in providing real-time intelligence support to commanders in the field. His experience provides the background that’s crucial to his writing in the thriller genre. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and holds degrees from two other colleges as well.
As a performer, he’s appeared on television in a variety of commercials, and does voice over work for both radio and television. He delights in doing his own audio books.
His greatest joy is working as a professional Santa for the last fifteen years, appearing in a number of television spots as the Jolly Old Elf.
He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife and dog. Both of whom tolerate him fairly well.