Phil Callaway's long-awaited novel Wonders Never Cease is now in bookstores. Pat Massey interviewed him about this story of mischief and mercy...for

Youíve written a dozen non-fiction books. Did you ever stretch the truth in them?

No. I just recall things others seem to have forgotten. I sometimes remember big. I remember it snowing in every month of the year here in Alberta, Canada. Others don't see to remember that. It puzzles me.

I love the title of this book. What is the greatest wonder in your life?

That God could love a guy like me. Someone told me recently that when he gets to heaven, heíll be surprised at who didnít make it. I said, ďIíll be amazed that I made it.Ē Godís Word assures me that my sins are forgiven, that I will be with Him forever, but not a day goes by when that truth doesnít amaze me.

How much did growing up at Prairie Bible Institute provide background for these novels?

I choose to pass on that question.

Come on now, off the record.

Is the tape recorder off?

Yes it's off.

Will you tell anyone what I say?

I wouldn't dream of it.

Itís impossible to write fiction without drawing on your own experience. My childhood was fascinating, so Iím sure youíll find some of it here. I had such a blast growing up at Prairie as a staff kid. Sure we had struggles, but as I travel and see what others are dealing with, my troubles look smaller all the time. I tell my children stories of things we did at Prairie back in the Ď60s and Ď70s and they say, ďNo way. Not a chance.Ē So Iíve decided to put those stories in novel form. Otherwise, no one believes them. Any writer knows that some things can only be said in fiction, but that doesnít mean these things arenít true. In fact, fiction often reveals truths that non-fiction obscures.

Pardon me?

For years Iíve wanted to address serious issues. Like the fact that I get letters you wouldnít believe from people who find out our family is riddled with Huntingtonís Disease. I used to call them well-meaning people. I donít anymore. They offer the latest cure and many chide me for a lack of faith. This morning I talked to a friend who is dying of cancer, he told me the same thing. I just wrote an article on my parents who have Alzheimerís. Iíve received an unprecedented response and 95 percent have been so kind. But the other 5 percent offer bizarre potions and high-priced cures. Iíve had others tell me that my parents are dying because I have a lack of faith. Jesus put that notion to rest, but these people werenít listening. Itís not easy to write about these things, unless it says ďA NovelĒ on the cover.

You take on cults too in this book.

Terry, the main character, has grown up religious like me. He turns his back on it, like many of my friends. His older brother teaches him about these cults by reading him letters heís sending to cult leaders.

Where did you get the idea?

I had already written many of these letters because I wanted to use them complete with responses in a book called Letters From A Religious Nut. Three publishers looked at it. All three sat around boardrooms with their editorial committees laughing themselves silly reading these letters. But all three told me they couldnít get away with publishing them. One suggested I work them into a novel though. So thatís what Iíve done.

You even have a murder mystery happening.

That was unintentional. I kid you not. Writing a novel is like driving a car at night with very dim headlights. You seldom know whatís around the bend. A body turned up, so I had to figure out where it came from.

What do you want readers to take from this book?

I hope they will be reminded that God's mercies are new every morning despite the messy things that happen to all of us. I pray that their hope of heaven will be renewed, and that they'll celebrate God's grace.

Whatís next for you?

A game of golf with my sons. Then Iím writing another devotional for golfers and my book Laughing Matters is being published by Multnomah in August. Iíll be co-authoring a book with Bob Hopeís all-time best joke-writer Martha Bolton in the fall too, so Iím not looking for more work this week.

What keeps you writing?

The letters and phone calls. The sense of anticipation that washes over me most days when I wake up. Or maybe thatís the dog waking me up with its tongue, Iím not sure. Seriously, Iím seeing lives changed. Iím seeing people come to Christ. And when you watch Him at work, you never want to leave the room.

I have a confession. I left the tape recorder on. 

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