Peretti, Frank E. 1951–
Peretti, Frank E. 1951–
PERSONAL: Born January 13, 1951, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; son of Gene E. (a minister) and Joyce E. (a homemaker; maiden name, Schneider) Peretti; married Barbara Jean Ammon (a homemaker), June 24, 1972. Education: Attended University of California—Los Angeles, 1976–78. Politics: Conservative. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Carpentry, sculpturing, bicycling, hiking, music, aviation.
ADDRESSES: Home—ID. Agent—c/o Blanton/Harrell, Inc., 2910 Poston Ave., Nashville, TN 37203.
CAREER: Licensed minister; associate pastor of community church in Washington state, 1978–84; K-2 Ski Factory, Washington state, production worker (ski maker), 1985–88; writer and public speaker, 1986–. Has worked as a musician and storyteller.
AWARDS, HONORS: Gold Medallion Award, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and Readers' and Editors' Choice awards, Christianity Today, all for Piercing the Darkness.
"COOPER KIDS ADVENTURES" SERIES
The Door in the Dragon's Throat, Crossway (Westchester, IL), 1986.
Escape from the Island of Aquarius, Crossway (Westchester, IL), 1986.
The Tombs of Anak, Crossway (Westchester, IL), 1987.
Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea, Crossway (Westchester, IL), 1988.
The Secret of the Desert Stone, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 1996.
The Legend of Annie Murphy, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 1997.
The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 1996.
Flying Blind, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1997.
THE VERITAS PROJECT
Hangman's Curse, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2001.
Nightmare Academy, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.
This Present Darkness (novel), Crossway (Westchester, IL), 1986.
Tilly (novel; based on his radio play), Crossway (Westchester, IL), 1988.
Piercing the Darkness (also see below), Crossway Books (Westchester, IL), 1989.
All Is Well, illustrated by Robert Sauber, Word (Dallas, TX), 1991.
Prophet, Crossway Books (Westchester, IL), 1992.
The Oath, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 1995.
The Visitation, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 1999.
This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, Crossway Books (Westchester, IL), 2000.
The Wounded Spirit (memoir), Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 2000.
No More Victims, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 2001.
(Reteller, with Sharon Lamson, Cheryl McKay, and Bill Ross) Wild & Wacky Totally True Bible Stories: All About Obedience, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.
(Reteller, with Bill Ross) Wild & Wacky Totally True Bible Stories: All About Faith, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.
(Reteller, with Bill Ross) Wild & Wacky Totally True Bible Stories: All About Courage, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.
(Reteller, with Bill Ross) Wild & Wacky Totally True Bible Stories: All About Helping Others, Tommy Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.
No More Bullies: For Those Who Wound or Are Wounded, Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 2003.
Author of the radio drama Tilly. The Wild & Wacky Totally True Bible Stories series has been produced on videocassette and DVD. Contributor to Christian periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Frank E. Peretti is a bestselling author of Christian fiction, with over nine million copies of his books sold. "Mr. Peretti's publisher acclaims him the successor to C.S. Lewis; the Darkness novels have sold millions. Yet the author's name is virtually unknown outside the Christian community," wrote Jared Lobdell in the National Review. Writing in Christianity Today, Michael G. Maudlin called Peretti the "great fundamentalist novelist, the father of the blockbuster Christian fiction."
Hailed in Time and Newsweek as the creator of the crossover Christian thriller, Peretti is the son of a minister and an ordained minister himself, and writes evangelical stories that celebrate the divine power of God and prayer. In his writing, inspired by conservative Christian theology, angels vanquish demons and good always prevails over evil. "The battle against the demonic has always been Peretti's principal theme," wrote Etta Wilson in BookPage. With novels such as This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, Prophet, The Oath, and The Visitation, Peretti almost single-handedly created the genre of Christian thrillers for adult readers. His books for young readers, including the titles in the "Cooper Kids Adventure" series and the "Veritas Project" series have done the same for middle-grade and young adult readers.
Born in 1951, in Canada, Peretti had, as Jeremy Lott noted in Christianity Today, "a hellish childhood." A glandular birth defect known as cystic hygroma led to infected and swollen lymph nodes in his neck as a baby, a condition that caused a baseball-sized lump on his throat. When his father's Pentecostal ministry led the family from Canada to Seattle, Washington, the infant Peretti had the first of seven operations. However, once the cyst was removed, his tongue became affected, swelling and elongating, turning black, and oozing blood. "I was having trouble eating—imagine trying to swallow, even to chew, without the help of your tongue," Peretti told Lott. More operations followed, but the child's tongue—affected by toxins sent by the lymph glands—continued to protrude from his mouth, making speaking another trying event in his life. Even the faith healer Oral Roberts could do nothing for the symptoms the child showed.
When Peretti was at home, people did not stare or torment him for his differences. At school, however, he was embarrassed not only by his long, black tongue, but also by his diminutive size. As he told Jana Riess in Publishers Weekly, he looked like a "small, frail freak" as a kid. He began to retreat from public life of any sort, feeling safe only at home with his loving parents and siblings, and tucked away in his room with comic books, trading cards, and an active imagination that created stories starring various movie monsters. As Peretti noted in his memoir, The Wounded Spirit, "I think part of me wanted to be one, at least a monster who wins. I wouldn't have minded being Frankenstein. At least monsters could do something about their pain." He began to write monster stories, and he and his brother even built their own monsters, one of them called Xenarthex.
Peretti's condition slowly improved, aided in part by a speech therapist who trained Peretti at age twelve to be able to talk with his tongue inside his mouth. His Christian background also helped him through these difficult years, as he has commented. By the time he was in high school in Seattle, his storytelling skills had attracted a group of neighborhood kids. After graduating, he began playing banjo with a local bluegrass group. Married in 1972, he left the band and started a Christian music ministry, then studied English and film at UCLA for a time before he assisted in pastoring a small Assembly of God church on Vashon Island, Washington, with his father.
Peretti gave up the ministry in 1983, however, working in a ski factory, and began writing short stories and his first adult novel, This Present Darkness. Once the novel was finished, Peretti tried unsuccessfully to get his manuscript published with mainstream publishers. Finally Crossway Books, a Christian publishing house in Illinois, bought the book. This Present Darkness features protagonist Pastor Hank Busche and his heroic efforts to save a small college town from the Legions of Hell. The demons, in the guise of the Universal Consciousness Society, conspire to purchase the college and then subjugate humankind with the help of a Satanist professor, a New Age minister, a corrupt multinational corporation, and a police chief. Pastor Busche is aided in his efforts by a skeptical reporter who begins to see that this nefarious plot means to subjugate not only the townspeople, but the entire human race. The conspiracy is dramatically defeated when Pastor Busche summons an army of angels to repel the demons.
Published in 1986, this debut novel sold poorly for a year, suffering from poor distribution and a lack of promotion. Then the Christian singer Amy Grant began to praise the book to her audience, and word of mouth picked up. By 1988, the novel was selling 40,000 copies a month and Peretti was deep into a sequel, The Piercing Darkness. Peretti had a succession of blockbuster novels thereafter, including Prophet, The Oath, and The Visitation.
Peretti's first nonfiction book, The Wounded Spirit, was inspired by the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School that left thirteen people dead. Peretti explores the causes of youth violence and suggests some possible solutions by relating experiences from his own childhood and young adult years. In the book he details his painful youth and the cystic hygroma which caused him to be branded as an outsider, suffering the jibes and taunts of fellow students. Peretti compares this to the condition of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine tragedy, who had been teased and ostracized for their differences. It was a high school gym teacher who finally came to Peretti's aid, merely by being someone with whom a troubled young man could speak about his problems. Peretti urges those who hurt others to be kinder and more aware of the effects of their actions. He also encourages those who are injured by the pettiness and insensitivity of others to speak out about their pain, rather than letting resentments build. Reviewing The Wounded Spirit in Publishers Weekly, a critic stated: "This book is full of painful stories, but also memorable moments of hope, as Peretti recounts instances when a peer or a teacher stood up for him. This remarkable memoir will inspire readers to undertake similar acts of courageous compassion."
Peretti has also written a number of books specifically for young readers. In 1990, he created the first in a series of exotic adventure stories featuring Christian archaeologist Dr. Jake Cooper and his children, Jay and Lila. The first, The Door in the Dragon's Throat, involves a treasure hunt in the Middle East, while the second, Escape from the Island of Aquarius, tells of a manhunt for a missionary missing amongst a satanic cult in the South Pacific. In eight books, Peretti takes readers into cave tombs with a mysterious religion, and even into a battle between Soviet and CIA agents. In The Secret of the Desert Stone, the children and their father investigate a bizarre two-mile-high stone that appears overnight in Togwana. The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey finds the trio in the jungles of Central America fighting the eponymous curse. The Legend of Annie Murphy has them dealing with a hundred-year-old ghost. And in Flying Blind, the importance of faith is emphasized when Jay must try to land his uncle's Cessna after suffering a head injury that has left him temporarily blind.
In "The Veritas Project" series, inaugurated in 2000 with Hangman's Curse, Peretti has developed books targeted at both teens and "tweens." Again using a family as the center of action, the author posits a secret government project, the Veritas Project, which is meant to aid the FBI in breaking drug rings and solving other crimes. School Library Journal's Elaine Fort Weischedel called the series an "evangelical Christian X-Files." Featured in each title are Nate and Sarah Springfield, and their twin children, Elijah and Elisha. In the debut title in the series, Hangman's Curse, the family goes undercover in a small town high school to try and solve a baffling crime. A mysterious curse has struck several of the football players, leaving them raving and crazed, tied to their hospital beds. In their delirium, they all mutter the name Abel Frye. Elijah and Elisha befriend many of the kids at school in an attempt to get the bottom of this Abel Frye mystery. Soon it becomes clear that the deadly madness is connected to a spider breeding in the walls of the school, and Elisha is put into mortal danger.
Weischedel felt that Peretti "develops the plot nicely," and that the religiosity of the Springfield family "does not interrupt the flow of the story, nor does anyone get preachy." Weischedel concluded, "Young teens should enjoy this fast-paced and atmospheric novel." A contributor for Publishers Weekly similarly praised Hangman's Curse, noting that Peretti's "comfortably paced, compelling performance consistently draws readers along." The same reviewer concluded, "Peretti has an obvious knack … for emphasizing his beliefs without preaching."
Peretti returns to the "Veritas Project" with the 2002 title, Nightmare Academy, in which the project team has a new assignment—to find out what really happened to two runaways. The Springfield twins go undercover again, posing as runaways themselves, ending up in an academy where there is no such thing as absolute truth.
Peretti has also coauthored, with Bill Ross, a series of books about the Bible, "Wild & Wacky Bible Stories," humorous retellings of stories that deal with themes including courage, helping others, obedience, and faith. A character named Mr. Henry relates the experiences of various biblical figures as they pertain to the topic at hand and how they connect to today's world. The books have also been adapted for videocassette and DVD, with Peretti himself playing the "absent-minded professor-type host," according to Kirsten Martindale in School Library Journal. Martindale further noted that the series "embraces biblical philosophy and religious values" and will have viewers "smiling their way through some traditionally serious subjects."
Commenting on the appeal of Peretti's novels, Lobdell wrote, "Whatever their genre may be, it is not 'fantasy.'… Still, Mr. Peretti deserves his sales, and many readers will get exactly what they want from his books."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Peretti, Frank E., The Wounded Spirit (memoir), Word Publications (Nashville, TN), 2000.
Booklist, September 1, 1995, John Mort, review of The Oath, p. 6; June, 1999, John Mort, review of The Visitation, p. 1743.
Bookstore Journal, January, 1988, p. 163.
Christianity Today, April 29, 1996, Michael G. Maudlin, review of The Oath, p. 24; August 9, 1999, Susan Wise Bauer, review of The Visitation, p. 70; March 4, 2001, Jeremy Lott, review of The Wounded Spirit, p. 99.
Dallas Morning News, December 2, 2000, Berta Del-gado, "Author Tells All to Help Heal Others," p. 1G.
Harper's, September, 1996, Vince Passaro, review of The Oath, pp. 64-70.
Journal of Popular Culture, winter, 1994, Jay R. Howard, "Vilifying the Enemy: The Christian Right and the Novels of Frank Peretti," pp. 193-206.
Library Journal, August, 1989, p. 165; October 15, 1989, p. 50; November 1, 1991, p. 68; September 1, 1995, p. 158.
Nation, February 19, 1996, Donna Minkowitz, review of The Oath, pp. 25-28.
National Review, August 20, 1990, Jared Lobdell, review of This Present Darkness, pp. 45-47.
People, June 18, 1990, Andrew Abrahams, "Moved by the Spirit of the Lord, Frank Peretti Writes Theological Thrillers That Sell to Heaven," pp. 62-63.
Publishers Weekly, May 15, 1995, p. 15; August 17, 1998, Carol Chapman Stertzer, "Frank Peretti," p. S28; July 31, 2000, Marcia Nelson, "Post-Columbine Reflections," p. 44; October 30, 2000, review of The Wounded Spirit, p. 68, Jana Riess, "PW Talks with Frank Peretti," p. 69; May 14, 2001, review of Hangman's Curse, p. 40.
School Library Journal, February, 1986, p. 89; May, 1986, p. 96; July, 2001, Elaine Fort Weischedel, review of Hangman's Curse, p. 112; Kirsten Martin-dale, review of Mr. Henry's Wild & Wacky World (videocassettes), p. 64.
Seattle Times, September 1, 1999, Sally Macdonald, "'Christian Thrillers' Convert Readers," p. B1; June, 2002.
Time, November 13, 1995, Martha Duffy, review of The Oath, p. 105.
Voice Literary Supplement, July, 1990, p. 15.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (January 6, 2001), Etta Wilson, "Maturity Marks Frank Peretti's The Visitation."
Frank Peretti Home Page, http://thewoundedspirit.com/ (June 11, 2002).
Steeling the Mind of America, http://www.steelingthemind.com/ (January 6, 2001), "Steeling Speaker, Frank Peretti Page."