CJ is a Christen fiction author of eleven books
Intro: What is your name, what do you write, and where can readers find you on social media?
Hi! My name is C.J. Peterson, and I write action-packed Christian fiction. As far as my links, they are all listed conveniently on my website under the “About” tab: http://www.cjpetersonwrites.com/about.html
And just for fun, if you could be any mythical being or creature, who or what would you be?
Mythical creature? Hmmm…if you read my stories, you may think it’s Keres! J (I’m known as a literary assassin.) Having said that, the Phoenix is more like me. There have been multiple times where my life was left in ruins, but by relying on God for my strength, I rose from the ashes, better than when I started!
- You grew up in a military family and thus your books have a similar vibe to them. What is attractive to you about the genre? My genre is Christian/fiction. I reference military, firefighters, FBI, police, and a lot of action in my books. All of these occupations are a family type unit within themselves. They all have each other’s back. The same is with the A.N.G.E.L.s. They are a family unit who bring in many aspects of experience, training, tactics, and wisdom to accomplish the tasks placed before them…also to help them out of the inevitable they often find themselves in.
- Army Rising is the second book in your Divine Legacy series which is described on your website as a “next generation” series and a combination of the Holy Flame Trilogy and the Grace Restored Series. What inspired you to take this route? One theme I often find in working with teens for over eighteen years, is that the younger generation doesn’t think the older generation understands or knows anything. On the flipside, the older generation is often times so frustrated with the younger generation that they give up, and just let them do their own thing. However, in writing the three sets the way I did, it shows that not only does the older generation understand, but if they are willing, they can help pass that wisdom onto the next generation, making them stronger than the previous generation. In writing the books the way I did, it also allows people to see through multiple generations the effect of choices made, as well as the beauty in influencing the younger generations. A reader also gets the ‘rest of the story’ for some characters, that you may not otherwise know if they were in a stand-alone series. Readers like that, because they become invested in some of the characters.
- What is your favorite next generation series as a reader? I actually haven’t found any. Usually the books I read follow a main character, or main groups of characters, until they reach the end of their storyline. Having said that, there are multiple series I enjoyed reading, like The Chronicles of Narnia and the Left Behind Series.
- Since you grew up in a military family, do you have to do a lot of research for your books or does most of the military content come from first-hand knowledge? My husband is a retired, 24 ½ year Navy Corpsman, so I get a lot of storyline advisement from him in regards to medical and military. As far as military family experience, moving around a lot allowed me the privilege to discover different cultures and people. Those experiences aide in creating some of the characters.
- The Divine Legacy series is about the children of the protagonists of the previous series. Give us a short bio of each character and one way their journey is different from that of their parents. LOL! This could take a while! Let me see if I can shorten it:
Josh and Rachel Sullivan – They were raised by Nico and Kit Sullivan (Grace Restored Series) on a station (ranch) in the Outback of Australia with their two other siblings. Josh’s twin brother is Caleb, and Rachel’s twin sister is Leah. All four were trained while growing up to be an A.N.G.E.L. by the Australian unit. By the time the younger two siblings graduated from college, Josh and Rachel got the call from the Lord to be an A.N.G.E.L., which was foretold to them when they were younger.
Each A.N.G.E.L. is given a gift from the Holy Spirit. Josh’s is languages. He can speak any language known to man. This assists the team as they travel throughout the world on missions given to them by the archangel. Rachel’s gift is that she can tell by the light emitting from each person if they are an A.N.G.E.L., a Christian, seeking, a non-believer, or from ‘the other side.’ This helps the A.N.G.E.L.s to find other team members, as well as figure out who the people around them are. Rachel is head of one of the teams, while Angel is head of the other A.N.G.E.L. unit.
Their walk differs from their parents in multiple ways. Nico Sullivan is a retired FBI agent. While he was born and raised mostly in Australia, he came to America in his late teens. He ran into Kit on a case, and his life was changed from that point on.
Kit was born and raised in Oklahoma in a rough environment. To get away from her past, she went all the way to Ohio for college…where she ran into Nico on a case.
For the rest of the story, you’ll have to read the Grace Restored Series to find out!
Jon, Jesse, and Angel English – They are the children of Mark and Casey English (The Holy Flame Trilogy). Casey was a paramedic/firefighter from Denver, Colorado, while Mark was in special operations for the Air Force, as well as an A.N.G.E.L. in the American unit. They were brought together through Casey’s brother, Jack. Once a life-changing event for Casey ensued, the other side put Casey in the crosshairs, and her life took a drastic turn! In order to protect her, the American A.N.G.E.L.s joined forces with the Mexican A.N.G.E.L.s in Mexico, where an even larger battle was about to take place.
Now, because of the above events, the English children were born and raised in Mexico. After the battle, the A.N.G.E.L.s decided to start training their children for future assignments. Once Angel graduated college, both teams decided it was time to separate. The American A.N.G.E.L.s and their children went back to the U.S., and that’s where the adventure begins in the beginning of the Divine Legacy Series.
As for their gifts, Angel has dreams that reveal things to her by the Spirit that helps the team on their missions. Meanwhile, Jon can feel the emotions of those around him. This allows him to read people, even some of them who do their best to hide their emotions from the rest of the team. Then there’s Jesse’s gift. He can sense the other side when they’re near. This alerts the team as to when the other side, known as Unnaturals and demons, are close to them. Jesse has had this gift long enough to even gauge if they are near or far. The rest of the A.N.G.E.L.s each have their own gifts, which you will find out through the course of the different series. To find out more, read The Holy Flame Trilogy, Grace Restored Series, and the Divine Legacy Series.
**In my books, in case you haven’t figured it out already, the spiritual realm crosses into the physical realm. This gives some a perspective they may not have otherwise considered. Where there is light, there is dark. Where there are angels, there are demons.**
- At the end of each synopsis for the books on your website, you have a passage from one of the books of the Bible. How are those related to the book? Good catch! Each one gives you a hint as to the premise of the book. It also is used through the book, showing the relevance of the Bible to our daily lives.
- How has your faith influenced the way you write? Many times, people cannot understand how the Bible, even though it was written thousands of years ago, can still apply to our daily lives. There is more than just Psalms and Proverbs in the Bible that apply to our lives. Also, as a youth group leader, I frequently utilize Bible verses for the advice I give the teens. I explain to them later where I got the advice, and they are amazed that it helped. The way the Bible is used through the books, shows others how it could apply to their everyday life.
As far as how my faith influenced my life, I am nothing without God. Jesus is my Lord and Savior, who walks with me every day. And, the Holy Spirit is my guide. This is one way I can share His words with others who may not otherwise consider picking up the Bible. The words in the Bible have helped me tremendously over the years, and this is my way of sharing that as well.
- What was the most surprising part of writing Army Rising? The same thing it is for all my books – the end. When I sit down to write, I pray, and start writing. I write until I can’t anymore, and then put it down. When I pick it up again, I pray, and then read the last chapter and start writing again. When I read through it for editing, it all seems to flow together. I never know how it will end when I start it, though. I never know the direction it will go either. I’m known as a ‘pantser’ in writing. I don’t use an outline. The only thing I keep is a running list of characters.
- Favorite quote from your own work? Oh wow! There are a lot! I have eleven books out. I really don’t think I have a favorite quote, but I do have a favorite verse I use all the time. It’s even utilized in the books. It’s Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
This particular verse has helped me through many circumstances, and has been a comfort to me. I hope the words in my books are a comfort to others as well.
- How is The Divine Legacy series different from other next generation stories? I really haven’t found any next generation series written the way I have mine. In my series, the older generation has a prominent part in the Divine Legacy Series as well. The next generation isn’t left on their own to figure things out. They always have back up when they need it, as shown in ARMY RISING (Book 2 of the Divine Legacy Series).
- Since you already knew the world and some of the characters in this series, how did that influence your planning and drafting process? I don’t have a planning process, as I explained in one of the above questions. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’ when it comes to writing. I write by the ‘seat of my pants.’
I get an idea, sit down, pray for God’s guidance in writing, and then the words start flowing! I write until I can’t write anymore, and then put it down. The only thing I keep track of is my list of characters. God somehow makes it all flow together!
One of the things I always have when writing is my playlist. I have music running as I write at all times. I have A.D.D., and the music helps me concentrate.
- The books’ protagonists are members of the A.N.G.E.Ls. What does this acronym stand for? Did you make the team up or is it a real military force? A. N.G.E.L. stands for: Available to Nurture God’s Eternal Love. I sort of made this up. The reason I say ‘sort of,’ is because as a Christian, we have opportunities to be ‘angels’ to others. In the Bible, it also talks about ‘entertaining angels unaware.’ This was the trigger for the ‘what if?’ portion of the A.N.G.E.L.s. What if there was an archangel in charge of utilizing humans to do God’s work? What would that look like? In The Holy Flame Trilogy and the Grace Restored Series, the A.N.G.E.L.s each have a team from different countries around the world. As they head into the Divine Legacy Series, the world right now is more connected. With this thought in mind, the new teams aren’t just from one country. For example, Rachel’s team has an Australian, three from America, a couple from Ireland, and some from China, Egypt, and Jordan. The teams are bigger, but they are also more diverse. This creates an interesting concept in combining the cultures from these portions of the world. While those on the team can speak English, it also creates a bit of a barrier, and fun, when it comes to different sayings, how things are done, etc.
One of the things you asked is if it a real military unit? No, it’s not. Having said that, how many times have you heard military personnel talk about an angel saving them? That was another ‘what if?’ question that came to mind when I thought about the concept of the series. What if there were really angels out on the battlefields? What if God used humansto save other humans? What would that look like?
- Share some interesting military trivia or facts that made their way into your book. Some of the jargon makes its way into the book. And, trust me, they have some colorful sayings. Some of them I had to ‘clean up’ to use, of course, but I still found a way.
While there is some military in it, there is also FBI, police, and firefighter/paramedic in them as well. The reason I used these particular careers is to show honor and respect to them.
The main focus in the books, though, is the A.N.G.E.L.s and their journey. With the older team members being from the FBI, military, police, and firefighter worlds, this obviously effects how Rachel and Angel operate their teams.
- What is your favorite memory with a fan/fans who have read your work? There have been a couple that stand out to me. One was a message I received on FB from an elderly woman. It said: “I’m an 86 year old woman. I NEED to know what’s in the box? I may not live long enough to wait for the answer!” Of course this tickled me, especially since my mom is 85 years old, and I could see my mom doing this! I told her she would just have to wait to find out with the rest of the world in the first chapter of the Divine Legacy.
With the second one, I am a youth leader, and one of the girls in my youth group came up to me and said, “I am TOTALLY in love with Katie MacKenna!” Every time she got another book, she was so excited, and would come talk to me all about it.
I enjoy hearing from all my readers, though! It brings me great joy when readers let me know about their reading experience, and can’t wait to get their hands on the next book!
I pray you all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!
Thank you for that fascinating interview, CJ. Don’t forget to visit her website and pick up her books!
http://www.cjpetersonwrites.com “While the stories are fiction, the journey is real.”
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As always, keep making magic, word weavers!