A town’s deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith…
Debut novelist Mike Dellosso delivers a spine-tingling drama in the style of Frank Peretti and Stephen King in his first novel, The Hunted, a bone-chilling mystery about the town of Dark Hills and the deadly secrets it holds, to be released June 3, 2008.
Joe Saunders is determined to unravel the mystery surrounding the brutal mauling of his nephew.
Police Chief Maggie Gill is determined to protect the mystery surrounding her family’s deadly secret.
But neither is prepared for the truth when the mystery revealed uncovers the horror that is lurking in the shadows of Dark Hills.
After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills to aid in the search effort. When Caleb is found, badly mauled and clinging to life, Joe embarks on a mission to find the beast responsible. But the more Joe delves into the fabric of his old hometown, the more he realizes Dark Hills has a dark secret, shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence. As Joe unravels the truth behind a series of unexplained animal attacks, murder, and corruption at the highest level of law enforcement, he is led to a final showdown where he must entrust his very life into God’s hands.
About the Author
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted, was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years, has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets, and has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and Intern
ational Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity.
What do you do to pay the bills?
I’ve been a physical therapist assistant for 10 years.
Will you share a little bit about your family?
I’ve been married to my lovely and supportive wife, Jen, for 10 years. We’ve been blessed with three daughters ages 5, 6, and 8. All fun-loving, sweet-spirited, and of course always well-behaved (ahem).
What do you like to do when you’re not working, writing (which is work!), churching, or familysizing?
Read and fool around with my website. Oh, I also mow the lawn, trim the hedges, paint the porch, replace rotted boards, and all that other fun stuff homeowners do to pass the time away. Actually, I’m pretty boring (except when Toby Mac is in the CD player).
A full-time job, church involvement, family life, writing books: How do you do it all?
Very carefully. Seriously. God’s blessed me with time management skills and I make use of my time wisely. Of course, there’s the tendency to get over involved and that’s when I need to take a step back and re-evaluate what I’m doing. But careful management of time is key. Make the most of every minute.
Tell me about when you were diagnosed with cancer.
Yeah, cancer. Kind of a big thing. I was diagnosed on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Here I was getting ready to launch into trying my hand at promoting my new book and in the middle of negotiating a contract for a second book when the doctor dropped the bomb: You have colon cancer.
Funny thing is, I don’t remember ordering colon cancer. Not part of my plans at all.
How has that diagnosis affected your writing?
How has it affected my writing? Well, immediately, it’s halted my writing. With the exception of daily journaling on my blog, I haven’t written a lick since being diagnosed. I love to write, it’s my passion, but this cancer thing trumps it. I took this diagnosis as a nudge from God that I need to set writing aside for a little while and just concentrate on the most important things: my relationship with Him and my relationship with my family. Sometimes it takes something like cancer to refocus you, to get you to evaluate your life and do a little re-prioritizing.
In the long run, I think the experience of traveling through this valley will only enhance my writing, give it more depth, more texture, more emotion and passion. I know firsthand what it’s like to traverse that Valley of the Shadow of Death, to question Why me?, to be scared of dying, not for dying’s sake but for my family’s sake, to live with a monster inside me that wants to kill me (hey, that gives me a great story idea), to be poked, prodded, scoped, and stuck, to live a life that revolves around the next test result or the next doctor’s appointment. I’ve been there now and I can incorporate those experiences into my stories, into the life of my characters. It’ll be interesting to see how my writing changes once I get back to it.
What is one thing your diagnosis has taught you?
One other thing I’ve learned is to fully rely on God, to willingly submit myself and put my life in His hands. And of course, this carries over into my writing as well. We writers never know where the next contract is coming from or how much the next royalty check will be for, or even how the next story will unfold, if there is a next story. We are constantly at His mercy, and I’m learning that’s a good place to be.
Where do you get your ideas for stories?
My ideas for stories. There’s a box in my basement called the Idea Box. I wave my hand over it a couple times, chant some pretty cool things, and somehow (I’m not sure how it works) but an idea just appears in my head, fully formed, like a newborn baby. Of course, I wish it was that easy, but the fact is, I just told a fib. There’s no magic box, no hand-waving, no chanting, just an overactive imagination and a lot of mulling.
My ideas are usually born either by searching the internet for unique stories, by reading or hearing something in the news, or just by letting the leash out for my imagination to run a little wild. From there I toss around some scenarios. The challenge is taking a simple idea—a what if question or a single character—and developing it into a story that can support 80,000 to 100,000 words. It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s rarely easy. Once I find something I think I can run with I start writing and the story can change several times before everything falls in place. Ask any author, there’s no simple way to come up with an intriguing idea and grow it into a full-fledged novel-length story.
Are you a plotter or seat-of-the-pants writer?
Seat-of-the-pantser all the way. I love being surprised by my own stories. When I start a story I know where I want to start—usually the first few chapters—and most of the time where I want to end. Everything in-between is making it up as I go. I figure if I don’t know where the story is going and how it’s unfolding, there’s a good chance the readers won’t either.
That being said, I typically work a chapter or two ahead in my mind. I’m always thinking about what’s going to come next, turning scenarios around, changing them, fiddling here, tinkering there, trying to find something that grabs my fancy and has potential to build the rest of the story off of. By working several steps ahead (like a chess player, I suppose) I avoid writing myself into a corner.
Talk about your “call” to write.
My call to write was in no way gradual. It happened all at once and might as well have been God speaking directly to me. It began with a motorcycle accident that left my brother-in-law in a deep coma and a prognosis of death or, at best, persistent vegetative state. My wife, Jen, and I went to visit my sister and Darrell in the hospital and came away wrestling with emotions I couldn’t easily explain: anger, frustration, sorrow, confusion, you name it. When we got home I did the first thing that came to mind, I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and started writing.
Now, it’s important to know at this point that I’ve always struggled with stuttering. Lots of thoughts and ideas swirled in my head but I rarely voiced them because talking was just so laborious. I often kept my emotions under lock and key because it was easier than trying to express myself in words. Well, when that pen hit paper I knew I was on to something, I felt a freedom I had not felt before. I could say what was on my mind and in my heart and say it with perfect fluency. I had found my voice! That was almost ten years ago and I haven’t stopped writing since. Oh, and by the way, Darrell pulled through and is doing just fine now.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite aspect is the first draft when everything is new and fresh and the story is unfolding. Sometimes I feel like it’s just spilling out of me and I can’t type fast enough to keep up with it. During that process I’m constantly thinking about the story, molding it like a piece of clay, trying this, trying that, seeing if something makes sense, if it fits. I love getting to know the characters, watching them develop and take on personalities of their own. Creating them.
What is one thing being a writer teach you about God?
I think part of being made in the image of God is our desire to create. I experience great joy by bringing people to life, forming a world for them to live in and things for them to do. Putting them in a situation where there is no easy out and watching how they react. I can only imagine the fun God must have had creating this world. What a wonderful thought, the Creator at play.
What do you hope to accomplish in your writing?
God’s done so much for me. He loves me while I am so unlovable. Lifted me up out of that miry clay, wrapped His arms around me, and set my feet on solid ground. Made me a new creation and gave me a new life. I’m so undeserving of His love, and yet He so willingly and freely gives it. Why wouldn’t I want to give all of me back to Him? And that includes my writing. God’s given me a gift and I want to give it back to Him to be used for His service, His Kingdom. I hope and pray my writing and my stories impact people on a spiritual level, if they don’t then I will feel like I’ve somehow failed. Really, when life is all said and done, when we get rid of all the materialism and ambition and rat race stuff, isn’t our sole purpose to glorify God? Isn’t that what it’s all about? Really? That’s what I want to accomplish with my writing . . . to just glorify God and let Him take care of the rest.