I received a complimentary copy of Chosen People in exchange for an honest review of its merits.
For years, Robert Whitlow has been marketed as the John Grisham of Christian Fiction, which I think might be a bit unfair. While it may have been true in the beginning of the Christian legal fiction genre there was no one but Whitlow, but that is not the case today (Cara Putman comes readily to mind, for starters).
Also, it presupposes there is one style in which one can write a legal fiction: in a conversational, around-the-campfire storytelling yarn. That may be how Grisham writes, but Whitlow has his own style.
Whitlow has matured in his narrative prose (as do all good writers) and that is on display in Chosen People. The characters are well formed and there is some humor to break up the tension that runs throughout the story. The author clearly has done his research and the locations both near and far feel real. As the characters walk the streets of Jerusalem, for example, you feel you are doing the same. And there were some secondary characters that were a nice addition to the tale.
I suppose that my chief storytelling concern was that the love triangle was not resolved in a way that made sense to me. In Whitlow’s attempt to set up both potential partners as interesting prospects, I thought Hana made a choice that went against her character. Then again, Whitlow might argue that he wasn’t setting up a triangle at all, or that I didn’t truly understand what was driving Hana and her decisions. The ending also seemed a bit rushed, but that tends to be an unfortunate trend in contemporary storytelling.
But, to be fair, these are smaller concerns when weighed against the positive elements of the tale. All in all, nicely done, Mr. Whitlow.
Check out this chance to win three of Whitlow's books.
A lawyer and college professor, Cara Putman’s skills in crafting solid, fast-paced legal fiction comes from a mixture of experience and imagination (unless she’s actually been chased down by an angry drug cartel leader, which I hope is not the case). Delayed Justice, the latest book in the Hidden Justice series (Beyond Justice and Imperfect Justice round out this trilogy) features a great blend of solid writing and a good story.
When did you first realize you were a storyteller?
I have always loved books, but I was 13 or 14 when I actively started writing and dreaming up stories of my own. When I started college at 16, life wasn't really my own, so I stopped writing until I was 31. But I have always read voraciously. I must read. I must be surrounded by story. So, it makes it natural that I see stories all around me and itch to tell them.
What do you love about the writing process?
I love the research. I love the discovery of the characters. To me the hardest part is the beginning. Getting the idea cemented in my mind. Figuring out how the characters will interact and what they really want. Then I hit a point where the story simply flows. That is the best! I love to live in that space where I can't wait to get back to writing. It carries me through the not as fun parts.
What is the hardest part of being a writer?
How solitary it is. I'm an extrovert, so I can't just write. I have to have space to interact with people and pour into them. That's why the combination of writing and teaching at a world-class university works so well for me. I also don't enjoy the early stages of wrestling for the next big idea.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration all around me. For the Hidden Justice series it was in newspaper articles and in people I know. I take many different situations and pull them together and twist them up into something new and different. That's where the germ of the story is located. And that's what keeps me writing and marketing for the months each story requires.
What are you working on right now?
I'm in the idea germinating stage. I have several floating around in my mind and trying to flesh a couple up enough to sell to my publisher. These will be standalone legal ideas and that excites me!
To find out which of these ideas blossoms into her next novel, follow Cara on her website.
I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.