Hello again! Through tomorrow (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 continuing with Andrew Huff and his Carol Award finalist book A Cross to Kill! 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!
Andrew Huff is the author of the action-packed Shepherd Suspense Series from Kregel Publications. The first book in the series, A Cross to Kill, was a finalist in the Mystery/Thriller categories of both the 2020 Foreword INDIE awards as well as the 2020 ACFW Carol Awards. Huff is an accomplished novelist as well as screenwriter and has worked in the church media and entertainment industry after spending 10 years as a leader in local church ministry. He currently calls North Texas home where he and his beautiful wife Jae raise their two boys and rescue dog. Visit him at andrewhuffbooks.com
A CROSS TO KILL
GENRE: Inspirational Suspense/Thriller
RELEASE DATE: October 15, 2019
A gripping debut thriller pits a man of God against terrorists–and his own deadly past
John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God’s calling. He’s not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past.
But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf–an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to do penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again.
Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John’s secrets are laid bare. Confronted with his past, he must face his demons and discover whether a man can truly change. Can he keep his vow–even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he’s learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, John’s life may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer.
Hi Andrew! Welcome back to the blog!
Q: How has Christian fiction impacted you personally?
Andrew: Christian fiction has been a part of my life from my earliest memories. Growing up homeschooled, my reading lists in school often included fiction by Christian authors (the Cooper Kids series by Frank Peretti a notable example). I didn’t realize it at the time, but these were seeds being planted in my imagination that would go on to influence my own pursuit of telling stories with a biblical worldview as an adult.
I would also say an even bigger impact that Christian fiction itself had on me personally has been the impact of the Christian fiction community. Early on, I found the Christian fiction writing community encouraging and supportive as I learned the craft and now with my own novels published I’ve gotten to enjoy the broader Christian fiction reading community and the support and encouragement they offer as well.
Carrie: I love that foundation of Christian fiction you had early on & yes! the community – nothing quite like the CF community, writing & reading.
Q: When you’re not writing your next award-nominated book 😉 who are your fave authors to read & why?
Andrew: In the in between moments, I’ve actually been focused less on reading familiar authors and more on catching up on authors in my genre I haven’t had a chance to read (mostly in the general fiction market, writers like John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth). I’ve also been jumping into more research books on future story ideas.
That being said, my favorite authors to return to again and again have been James Rollins, Preston and Child, and similar within the mystery and suspense general market genre. These are the writers that inspired me to write my own stories simply because I’ve enjoyed them so much. The one caveat I would add is that I was inspired to write fiction because as much as I enjoyed the suspense and adventure of a Rollins or Preston and Child book I often found the worldview of their stories at odds with my own.
Carrie: Thank you for following that inspiration & writing these kind of books from a Christian worldview!
Q: Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?
Andrew: I don’t know if this would qualify as strange (I know other writers who do the same), but I often search out and create writing “soundtracks” to write to. I don’t just mean music that plays while I’m writing, I mean actual tracks from movie scores that are the soundtrack to particular chapters or scenes. More often than not, there will be a particular moment in a scene (usually the action scenes) that is directly inspired by what’s happening in the music that is playing.
I’ve actually posted the soundtracks to both my Carol finalist novel, A Cross to Kill, and the sequel in the series, Cross Shadow, on my author website andrewhuffbooks.com. (The playlists are hosted on Spotify and you will need a free account to listen.) Check out the music and see if you can guess what tracks go with which scenes (hint: I’ve put them in order of how they happen in the books).
Carrie: I love that! how fun!
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve googled lately while researching a book?
Andrew: Here’s a good one from my Google activity: “vtol personal vehicle landing feet.” I’d love to explain it, but then I’d be spoiling what’s coming up next in the Shepherd Suspense series. [He pauses, a sly look on his face.]
Like any good thriller author, my Google history is full of searches related to how suicide vests are constructed, the locations of the U.S. military’s missile silos, and, of course, popular names of Australian girls born in the late 90s. I’m convinced one day I will be visited by FBI agents to check in on what devious plot I might be brewing in my home office.
Carrie: hahaha definitely spoken like any good thriller author 🙂
Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from A Cross to Kill & why do you love it?
Andrew: I have to talk about what is probably one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written, but I must caution that it comes late in the novel so potential spoilers ahead!
Ok, still here? So, the only context needed to understand the moment is that the main character, John Cross, is an ex-CIA assassin unwilling to take any more lives. We pick up the action as John and Christine, our heroine, are tracking down a terrorist in Washington D.C.:
The terrorist grabbed the nine millimeter and leapt to his feet before Cross could reach him. “Unlike you,” Erkan snarled, “I have a taste for blood.”
Cross froze, waiting for the bullet to explode from the barrel and rip through his chest. Erkan’s muscles tensed, but before he could pull the trigger, a two-by-four swung in an arc behind him and connected with the back of his head. Erkan launched forward, the gun falling from his limp hand and sliding across the floor, away from both of them.
Christine stood over the man’s dazed body, holding the two-by-four in both hands and panting. “Taste any blood now?”
Christine’s quip is slightly cheesy, but by far one of my favorite that I’ve written simply because it fulfills the promise of what I want my novels to be: great, clean fun that reminds the reader of so many classic action adventure stories full of moments that make you smile and maybe even cheer. It’s also a line that illustrates Christine’s transformation from damsel in distress at the beginning of the novel to rescuer in her own right by the end.
Carrie: Yes! That’s one of those great “hit ’em again” lines (as my husband & i call them – where the good guy – or gal, in this case – maybe uncharacteristically throws a punch at the bad guy & the whole theater cheers lol.)
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.
What about you? What makes you want to read the debut novel Carol Award finalist A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff & what did you enjoy about Andrew’s answers?