2020 Carol Award Finalists Q&A (and a Giveaway!): James R. Hannibal & The Gryphon Heist

Posted September 11, 2020 by meezcarrie in 2020 Carol Awards, Author Interview, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, James R. Hannibal, mystery/suspense / 24 Comments

Happy Friday! As you by now already know, through September 19th (culminating with a list of winners), I have the privilege of sharing mini interviews with nearly all of the 2020 ACFW Carol Award Finalists! Today I’m starting with James R Hannibal and his Carol Award finalist book The Gryphon Heist! You can check out a list of all the finalists HERE.

FYI – There will be 2-3 posts per day, and a series-long giveaway, so make sure you catch them all!

James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. A former stealth pilot from Houston, Texas, he has been shot at, locked up with surface-to-air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment. Visit him at jamesrhannibal.com

Talia Unger #1
GENRE: Inspirational Suspense/Thriller
RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2019
PAGES: 400

“A movie-worthy tale of espionage and intrigue. Hannibal has done it again.”Steven James, national bestselling author of Every Wicked Man

Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe–a department only known as “Other.” When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she’ll be back in DC within a few days. But that’s before she knows where the designs are stored–and who’s after them.

With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where criminal minds and unlikely strategies compete for access to the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault that hovers in the mesosphere. But is Tyler actually helping her? Or is he using her for his own dark purposes?


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Hi James! Welcome back to the blog!

Q: How has Christian fiction impacted you personally?

James: The first novel I ever curled up with on my own in a quiet corner of the house was The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. What a series! Sure, I went on to read all the books in The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown series, but they were missing something. For me, God-centered fiction is the truest form of story-telling. How can you create worlds while leaving out the author of ours? Thus, you’ll see His influence slipped quietly into the text of even my ABA books.

Carrie: I cannot love that answer enough – you are so right!

Q: When you’re not writing your next award-nominated book 😉 who are your fave authors to read & why?

James: I go to a wide-ranging group. I prefer to read from genres outside of the genre I’m currently writing, and since I write in mystery, thriller, and fantasy, that makes me jump around a bit. I enjoy the new Murder She Wrote books by Jon Land when I’m reading mystery. Jon has a way of revealing characters through simple actions, and I admire that. And he knows how to put together a great locked-room mystery. I enjoy Steven James when I’m reading speculative, because I know I’ll get some amazing theological discourse mixed in with the dialogue and action. Then I always go back to my fantasy heroes—C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien—because they are the masters of the genre.

Carrie: They truly are! (And I’m adding those new Murder She Wrote books to my TBR list!)

Q: Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?

James: I walk for miles and miles while I write, and dictate into my phone. Dictation apps are never perfect, so this gives me some interesting turns of phrase when I sit down to move the chapters over to Word.

Carrie: haha i bet!

Q: Which of your characters has really stretched you as a writer?

James: Talia Inger stretched me in ways I couldn’t have imagined, mostly because God had a purpose for her that I did not see. Thus, with The Gryphon Heist, a story about morality in espionage became a story about forgiveness and restoration.

Carrie: I’m so intrigued by her!

Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote The Gryphon Heist?

James: Through Talia’s development, which seemed to run a pace ahead of me throughout the writing process, I learned how important it is for Christians to forgive. We know that forgiving is a command, but we tend to forget. God put me in an aircraft flight deck with a counselor (who is also a pilot) who helps victims of horrible crimes and experiences learn to forgive. We flew together for a combined sixteen hours. He clued me in to so much, including the lines that follow the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:14-15). Take a look.

Carrie: oh wow! I bet that was powerful!

Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from The Gryphon Heist & why do you love it?

James: “When the devil brings a gift to your doorstep, he’s usually coming after your soul.”

I love this quote because it makes even me wonder what Tyler might be up to and wonder who is really the devil in the story. But it’s also a good warning, referring back to 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV). “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Carrie: so true!

I am offering one reader any TWO books (print copies) that finaled in the 2020 Carol Awards! (open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to your address) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read the mystery/suspense/thriller Carol Award finalist The Gryphon Heist by James R Hannibal & what did you enjoy about James’s answers?

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24 responses to “2020 Carol Award Finalists Q&A (and a Giveaway!): James R. Hannibal & The Gryphon Heist

  1. Perrianne Askew

    I enjoyed the interview and find that he walks and dictates parts of his book to be quite interesting. I also know that could get quite interesting when you dictate to text. I wonder if any of those faux pas made it into a vook?

  2. Donna Irvin

    My favorite part was the quote “When the devil brings a gift to your doorstep, he’s usually coming after your soul.”. I also like that he walks while doing his writing.

  3. Suzanne Sellner

    I love your comment about Christian fiction–“For me, God-centered fiction is the truest form of story-telling. How can you create worlds while leaving out the author of ours?”

  4. Winnie Thomas

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book. It’s interesting that James “writes” as he’s walking. I think it would be hard for me to do that. I’d for sure have to take the same route each day or I’d get too distracted!

    • Becky D

      I discovered this year that this genre is a favorite of mine. Sir James is a newer author to me & I’m excited to dive into this story. Who doesn’t need a little reminder or focus on forgiveness & restoration? 🥰📚

  5. Judi Imperato

    I really love the stories about CIA agents, I would love to read this story. I enjoyed this interview getting to know James Hannibal.

  6. Love finding new authors through giveaways. Loved learning about the author and their books. Would love to read and review books in print format.
    Book sounds very intriguing.

  7. MJSH

    I think it’s fascinating that he dictates while he walks. Pretty cool. He’s a new-to-me author and I can’t wait to read this one.

  8. Elizabeth Litton

    I don’t usually read many books in the thriller genre, but The Gryphon Heist sounds amazing! I also agree that stories that aren’t God-centered are missing something vital.

  9. Dawn

    He’s new to me, and that baby-faced man is no baby! His story of fogiveness and the 16 hours on a flight deck caught my attention.

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