Find a Christian store

Interview with Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is a fine artist as well as a forensic artist. She teaches courses in forensic art to law enforcement and civilians all across the US and Canada. Animals have always been a part of her life. She inherited her parent’s kennel and she is an AKC judge. She still lives on the ranch she grew up on in Northern Idaho. As to writing, she has been mentored by author Frank Peretti.

With the busy schedule you must keep with your forensic art as well as AKC judging, when and how did the writing “bug” bite you?
I started writing non-fiction art books more than fifteen years ago. When working on a non-fiction book on deception, I had to fictionalize parts of the book. I found it wasn’t as impossible to do as I originally thought. Then I had to learn HOW to write fiction. Ouch. Big learning curve.

Frank Peretti is mentioned as your mentor. How did that happen?
Frank was my husband’s banjo-picking buddy. I originally illustrated the book about their lives in Seasons of My Heart. After reading my first efforts at fiction, Frank offered to “teach me to fish.”

Where did the idea for A Cry From the Dust come from?
I started thinking about the idea after visiting the Little Bighorn battlefield in Montana. There were reconstructed busts of some of the men buried there. What if a forensic artist were to reconstruct some of the faces from the Mountain Meadows massacre? And what if one of those faces looked like Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church? It was a story waiting to be discovered.

What type of research have you done or research trips have you taken in preparation for your book?
I extensively researched the LDS (Mormon) church for over two years. My husband and I planned a trip to go through Montana and Utah, part of which we were able to take. I also read over 23 books as well as numerous articles on the subject. The bibliography is here:

What type of theme or message do you hope readers will take from this book?
A feeling of satisfaction, that even through the darkest days, God has a plan for our lives. We may not know it at the time, but someday we will. In the meantime: all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Before I was a born-again Christian, I was a Unitarian Universalist. I remember what I thought of Christians and Christianity. I want to reach folks for Christ in such a way that it is the only logical answer to life’s questions, not beat them over the head with rhetoric.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Frank Peretti becoming my mentor. That tops it.

Years of research, study, reading, critique groups, conferences, failures.

Terry Burns asking to represent me as my awesome agent.

Thomas Nelson expressing interest in the manuscript after having a partial for 27 minutes.

With your many responsibilities, how do you juggle or find time to write?

Yeah. I’m still trying to figure that one out….
As long as every deadline, class, dog show, painting commission, request for some type of forensic art, and ranch upkeep don’t all happen at the same time, I can usually squeeze in some time to write. I often write while waiting for a flight or on the plane itself.

Do you have your own writing space? Describe where you write.
I have a guest house here on the ranch, but there’s no internet, so I can’t look something up as it occurs to me. I’m eyeballing the screened-in porch to convert to a writing room, but in the meantime, I sit in a winged-back chair in the living room with a snoring bull terrier at my feet.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. There are only two kinds of writers: those who have been discouraged and those who will be discouraged. Everyone starts out the same way: learning. It’s a process, not a goal. Pray for guidance.

What other parting words do you have to share?
Striving for the goal of publication isn’t easy. Don’t settle for ‘good enough.’ If you have a story in your heart to tell, keep working on it until it’s the best story you can tell.

Thanks for sharing with us, Carrie Stuart Parks!

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.