On the surface, I appear normal. My chosen attire is usually jeans and a sweater, but I'll wear khakis for interviews and meetings. I have five girls, a husband, and the normal pets -- a goofy lab and a lazy cat. But there is a darker side of me -- a fascination with ghosts, spirits, demons and witches that I don't normally talk about with casual acquaintances. I don't think one ever gets used to the shocked, wide-eyed look that comes when I tell people that I've written Christian horror. That disbelief generally precedes the protest that it's an oxymoron. But like in "Fair Balance" you can't judge based on appearances. My past, on one level was quite normal -- in fact, the joke in my circles is that I was raised by Ward and June Cleaver. But when the house was dark and quiet and everyone was asleep, my world could have been born from a marriage of Stephen King and Ann Rice.
As a child and teenager, I was plagued by chronic nightmares. Demons, death, and fear greeted me every evening to the point I was averaging about two hours sleep a night -- generally from the time my parents woke up at five in the morning until seven when I had to get ready for school. I still remember every detail of some of therecurringg ones. In the end was always a church I stumbled upon. But instead of being a safe haven, it was a place of fear and isolation.
One of the most recurringg nightmares involved me being trapped in a house that was demon possessed. During the course of this dream, I tried to escape while voices echoed through the dark home that I would die. I would duck flying objects, scramble to free myself from some unseen force trying to pin me down. I would somehow escape and run until I saw church. The church should be a safe haven, but it wasn't. I could call out to God and He would save me, but the church only incited terror.
I'm not a psychologist. I don't know why I had these dreams. I had a pretty boring existence as far as teenagers go. I did not live in an abusive or cold home. My love for reading and writing was encouraged as was church and sports. Writing became my passion but I did not write about the things that kept me up at night. Even though I knew God was bigger than whatever was going on, I was terrified into silence. But it did put me on a path of morbid curiosity. What was on the other side? Why was it plaguing me? Anything black and sinister captured my attention, like I had a disease and needed to know everything about it in order to cure it. Maybe they didn't cause all my bad dreams, but they caused some, perhaps just enough to get my imagination rolling.
After years of spiritual wanderings, I came back to the faith of my youth. The fascination of demons and devils and evil never left me. The difference was as a child, I knew God was bigger than all the nightmares and demons and spirits, but for whatever reason, I couldn't get to Him and let Him protect me. Now, I know He's protecting me. However, I don't cower behind Him in fear. He didn't create me to have a spirit of fear. But I do let Him shield me. The nightmares have stopped, but now a mission remains.
"Fair Balance" was the first, but it won't be the last horror story I write. That dark side of my faith is too strong and not enough people acknowledge it's existence. I know because in the last decade, I've only heard it mentioned once or twice in church. I'm no longer surprised that the church in my dream was cold, distant and inattentive of this part of Christianity. I'm only saddened by it and pray that the people who feel as I do can read my stories and know they have a kindred spirit in the foothills of Georgia.