Thank you, Sharon, for hosting me on your blog and giving me an opportunity to inform your readers about my latest novel, HEALER. I’ve been involved in law enforcement for almost 45 years as a Chicago police officer, FBI agent, firearms expert for a private training company in Seattle, and monthly columnist for Officer.com for 11 years. With all of that experience it’s natural for me to want to include that knowledge in my writing. However, I’ve also tried my hand at genres other than police stories. I’ve won awards for fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, and technical writing.
I’ve always loved being involved in my Catholic faith. In fact, growing up I thought I was called to the priesthood. However, after spending some time in the seminary I realized I was more suited to saving people from thugs, rather than from themselves. But having read the Bible from cover to cover twice the past several years, I became enamored of the stories in which the Apostles and Saints healed people. Moreover, I took an interest in a more contemporary priest (1887-1968) who is now a Saint, Padre Pio. His gift of healing is legendary among believers throughout the world.
Anyway, the phenomenon of someone being able to spiritually heal someone got me wondering—what would it be like in contemporary times if a healer appeared? Would he/she be accepted, or would people look upon him/her as a freak or fraud? Thus the genesis of HEALER.
HEALER’s protagonist is 16-year-old Billy Anderson. In his young life, he has already sustained three major blows—he walks with a limp from a birth defect, his mother succumbed to cancer, and his soldier-father died in battle. Unfortunately, his parents’ deaths mean Billy must live with an aunt who has a drug problem. Her constant apathy toward him and her poor choice of friends causes Billy to prefer to live on the street, rather than endure the drama and neglect his aunt offers each day.
But Billy is a strong young man and even the sad turn of events don’t dissuade him from being a role model for others. He has friends and a remarkably strong faith that drives him to attend six o’clock Mass every morning. One morning at Mass, an elderly parishioner has a stroke. Before she dies, she transfers to Billy an extraordinary gift: the supernatural ability to heal. Soon, Billy’s life takes on a whole new dimension. He heals a classmate’s knee and changes the kid’s life. The public begins clamoring for Billy’s help. Yet he cannot act without God’s command. Moreover, every act of healing takes a little more of his strength and health.
HEALER explores the hope and heartache young Billy’s gift inspires. This interesting and thought-provoking story will tug at your heartstrings and challenge your thinking. What is the Gift? Who is the Giver? And in the end, what does love really look like?
The supporting cast of characters are an interesting lot, some that support Billy and others who try to take advantage of the naiveté of a 16-year-old. I enjoyed writing HEALER and at times I needed to grab for some tissues. There are some very touching moments, and readers may find themselves questioning the strength of their own beliefs once they discover the depth of Billy’s.
Feedback for the book thus far has been very positive. HEALER was selected by St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish as their book of the month. It’s also under consideration for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.
Inasmuch as the story deals with high school teens, many readers and some reviewers have suggested HEALER is a book suited for young adult readers as well. To ensure I was accurate with the lingo used by today’s teens, I had my 16-year-old grandson, Colin, read each chapter as I wrote. As a reward, I put Colin’s photo on the cover of HEALER.