Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Rule of Law based on real life inspiration
Part 2 of an interview with Randy Singer,
Author of Rule of Law
Inspired by real events involving American contract workers detained in Yemen, Singer wrote Rule of Law to address what he describes as critical issues lurking on the horizon. “Is the president above the law in matters of foreign policy?” Singer asks. “Should the CIA be fighting shadow wars with drones and special forces in countries where we have not declared war? What happens when the lives of service members are sacrificed for political gain?”
To avoid getting bogged down in political polarization, Singer assures readers his fictional president, cabinet and Supreme Court bear little resemblance to the current administration and Court. He does, however, anchor the story in reality with historical references — political, military and legal — based on actual events. He also has great respect for the sacrifices made by the Navy SEALS and their families, some of whom attend the church where Singer serves as a teaching pastor.
Q: While you made sure the characters such as the President and members of the Supreme Court in Rule of Law were not based on anyone in the current presidential administration, you did have real life inspiration for the book. Can you tell us about the people who did inspire you and the story?
Two remarkable people inspired me to write Rule of Law. They are both clients of my law practice.
Rule of Law begins with a SEAL Team raid of a prison camp in Yemen where the Houthi rebels are housing two important political prisoners.
Mark McAlister was working for the United Nations on October 20, 2015, in Yemen when he was captured by the Houthi rebels (who believed he was working for the CIA). For the next six months Mark was confined to a small, windowless cell where he was abused and interrogated. Through it all, he never renounced his faith. On the contrary, he boldly told his captors that he was a follower of Jesus. After they took his Bible, Mark would pace his small cell, praying and reminding himself of the miracles of Jesus.
“Lord, if you can walk on water, you can get me out of this cell. Lord, if you can heal the blind, you can get me out of this cell. Lord, if you can come back from the dead after three days, you can get me out of this cell.”
Six months into his captivity, Mark was miraculously released by his Houthi captors. By then, he had won their respect and developed a relationship with them. I had Mark share his testimony with my church which can be accessed, along with the message I preached that day, here: Lord of the Nations.
The second person who inspired this book was Dana Wise. She is the widow of a former Navy SEAL who attended the church I pastor and who was killed by a terrorist in Afghanistan. Dana’s grace and class in the midst of tragedy have been an incredible testimony to so many people. The main character in this book is a young female lawyer who is on a mission to avenge the death of her boyfriend, a Navy SEAL killed in the line of duty. The strength and class of Dana served as a great model for my protagonist. Dana shared her story on Memorial Day at our church, which can be seen, along with my message, here: Greater Love
In Rule of Law, I want readers to experience triumph in the midst of tragedy, and justice rising out of pain.
Q: Your church serves many servicemen and women. How did your work with military families influence you as you wrote Rule of Law?
Rule of Law begins with a tragic ending to a military mission. As part of my duties as pastor, I have been called on to minister to families who have lost loved ones in battle. The valor of these gold-star families is amazing. Rule of Law is, in many ways, a tribute to them. Additionally, just being around a military community and having friends who can answer my questions about how things would work (and I had tons of questions) helped make the book more realistic.
Q: You are a lawyer, a pastor and an author. How do all of those roles work together in writing Christian legal thrillers?
Writing Christian legal thrillers is the ideal intersection of my “lives” as pastor, lawyer and author. I believe I can write more realistic legal thrillers because I am still in the arena—trying cases in court and experiencing the kinds of emotions, victories and defeats that my characters experience.
I would also say that my three lives collide a fair amount. My writing is inspired by cases I’ve handled. My wife reads my initial manuscripts and gives me feedback. My daughter and I practice law together. My law partner is an elder in my church. My sermons are influenced by the storytelling tools I’ve learned as an author and the persuasive skills I’ve developed as a lawyer. Everything bleeds together and feeds off everything else.
To my church members, I’m a pastor; to my clients, a lawyer; and to my readers, an author. In today’s specialized society, it seems like it should be hard to juggle all three. But if you look at it historically, it was not at all unusual for one person to fulfill numerous roles. I think it helps me to be better at each one. As a pastor, I know what my church members go through in the “secular” world each week. As a lawyer, I can help bring a spiritual perspective to bear on my client’s biggest challenges. And as a writer, I can draw from both of those other wells for inspiration, experience and ideas.
Q: In the midst of tragedy, what does it mean to rely fully on God to get you through?
There are times in our life when we can hardly find the strength to take the next step. Friends tell us God can turn even this tragedy into something good, but we are hurting so much that we can’t find the faith to believe that. It is in those heartbreaking and gut-wrenching moments that we discover God’s amazing grace and the truth that Jesus is enough no matter the circumstances. I have found God does not give us the grace and strength ahead of time but that He always gives us exactly what we need for the next step, even when it feels impossible. We do not serve a Savior who is above our suffering; we serve one who suffered himself and who walks through tragedy with us, one who fully understands the pain of loss, abandonment, rejection and injustice. He is also a Savior who promises the power of the resurrection — that God can restore and redeem something hopelessly broken and lost.
Q: Rule of Law uses the platform of fiction to bring a true-life message to a wide audience. What is the message you hope readers gain from reading the book?
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
I also want to remind them that God will give us the courage and strength even in our darkest days to do what He has called us to do. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is alive in us. Ephesians 1:19-20.
Learn more about Randy Singer and Rule of Law at www.randysinger.net.