Please welcome Peter Churness - Pastor, Friend, Musician, Composer, Video Game Creator, and Writer!
When I first heard that Peter Churness, Pastor and friend, had written a book, I said to myself, "is there anything this guy can't do?" And, when he asked if I could proofread it for him, I agreed. So, after the proofread, I asked him when he planned to release the book or if he planned to send it off to a publishing house.
He said he wasn't sure when he would be ready for that.
I encouraged him to go for it.
He has a busy life of a Pastor, so . . . I've been waiting for a while now . . . but his first book, The Breaking, is finally out! And, I got first dibs on interviewing him. :)
He's been on TV before, so I figure that this is huge. (Peter is probably just shaking his head now, turning red, and chuckling.)
1. What inspired you to write The Breaking?
There were really three things that helped to inspire me to want to write a book about Abraham’s early life.
First was a suspicion that there was a political backstory of some kind. Though we know from Scripture that God called Abraham to leave the city of Ur, there is archeological evidence that the city of Ur was destroyed by invading Elamites about the time that Abram would have been migrating north. It’s quite possible Abram initially left as a refugee.
The second thing that struck me was that I suspected that there was a love story here somewhere. The fact that Abram apparently stayed faithful to Sarah (pre-Hagar) all those years she was barren hints that there was real love between the two.
And then finally, and most importantly, I’ve always been fascinated with the question of where Abraham’s faith came from. He grew up in a pagan culture worshipping the moon goddess Nanna.
Where did his belief in a one “Most High God Creator of Heaven and Earth” come from?
So not only is there a political story and a romantic story, there is also this story of Abraham’s spiritual journey. And that’s really what the book is about – it’s about Abraham’s conversion.
2. What inspired you to include references to the Epic of Gilgamesh in The Breaking?
It was really the Epic of Gilgamesh that gave me the idea to take my ponderings about Abraham’s life and turn it into a novel form. There are some great motifs in the Epic of Gilgamesh – friendship, search for life’s meaning, etc. Though it’s very unlikely that the Epic of Gilgamesh had anything to do with the real Abraham, the setting is very close – it’s generally the same geographic area of Abraham’s youth and it refers to a time within a couple hundred years of when Abraham was alive, which is negligent when you consider we’re talking about someone who lived 4500 years ago.
And then of course there is this wonderful reference in the Epic of Gilgamesh to this “sole survivor” of the Flood named Utnapishtim (the Babylonian Noah). And so that drew in my long-time fascination with the pre-flood world. A friend of mine and me, during our seminary days, developed an elaborate fantasy world based in the pre-flood world. This Abram series of books in some ways is simply an introduction or teaser into that deep backstory of the world before the Flood we’ve developed from which we have conceived of eventually developing further novels and also video games.
3. What was your favorite part of the writing journey for The Breaking? The creative conquering of the blank page? The tireless march through revisions? Or, the finishing touches of putting the book together?
Interestingly, I actually enjoyed each of those aspects, but there probably is nothing that really matches the “conquering of the blank page” as you say. Though the book has structure and the plotline was planned out and outlined from the start, the actual emergence of each set of dialogue or description of environment or whatever, is certainly a much more dynamic and spontaneous thing. And so it was always an adventure to come back to the laptop and to wonder as I began to write the next chapter or section – okay… I wonder what happens next!?
4. Do you write with music playing in the background? Or, with silence?
I love music. I love playing and writing music as well as listening. For that reason, I usually write in silence. Music tends to distract me. I’m tempted to break away from the creative writing experience and listen instead to the creative music experience of someone else. The exception to this is I sometimes will listen to classical music when I write, mainly to shut out the white noise.
5. Do you have a tip /quote/inspiration you would like to share with writers and/or readers?
One of my favorite all time quotes, and one that also has relevance to my writing of The Breaking, is a quote by C.S. Lewis when he said, “Enemy occupied territory, that’s what the world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed – you might say landed in disguise – and is calling all of us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
All of human history is a great epic story of how our planet entered into this Great Rebellion against its rightful ruler, and about how the Creator has ever since been working out a grand scheme to win the hearts of humanity back to Himself. There are many facets to that story, but when it comes to looking at the Biblical narrative as a whole, I think of everything before Abraham as being like the preface of God’s great novel of salvation history. With Abraham we turn the page and come to chapter one. The Breaking seeks to imaginatively fill in some gaps and unpack some of the hidden drama of that first part of God’s great epic novel.
He grew up a Sumerian Prince with Dreams of Leading Armies and Conquering Kingdoms.
His true destiny was something far greater....
Before he was known as Abram, his name was Enkidu, the youngest son of King Terah of Ur. His dream was to resurrect the glory of the Old Sumerian empire, with himself at the head of its armies, and with his childhood friend Gilgamesh of Uruk as the future High King of the realm. But his aspirations are clouded when a battle with a fierce desert warrior leaves him mortally wounded. As his life ebbs away, he hears a Voice calling to him: “Come away with Me.” Even as he despairs, he is saved by a mysterious traveler from the West, and when he recovers, he finds his ambitions conflicted by the haunting
memory of the Voice.
So begins an epic tale of political intrigue, romance and the emotional soul searching of a man who would become one of the world’s most influential figures. Three great religions would come to claim him as their forefather in faith. But where did Abraham’s faith come from? Part historical fiction and part fantasy, The Breaking tells that story.
About the Author
Peter Churness lives in Gig Harbor, Washington where he is the pastor of One Hope Church (www.ohcgh.com). He’s been married to Sandy for nearly 20 years (all of them blissful) and has three fantastic kids, Hannah, Megan and Caleb. In addition to doing church stuff and writing he also has been involved in making spiritually themed video games (see www.TheRebelPlanet.com). He also sings and plays guitar and has composed and recorded an acoustic guitar version of Handel’s Messiah (you know, because Handel’s version wasn’t good enough). (He's kidding, btw.) Check that out at www.MyMessiah.org.
Twitter: @peterchurness and @therebelplanet
Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!
Congrats to Peter on his book. I like to write in silence too, although occasionally I will listen to classical music or instrumentals in the background. Happy Holidays, Tyrean!
Congratulations, Peter! I prefer to write with silence too.
A Merry Christmas to you, Tyrean! Glad you're feeling better.
Great interview! Very cool how you got the opportunity to be the first interviewer, Tyrean. You can tell Peter has so much passion for this book. Many congrats to him on this release!
I write with silence or classical music too. If there are lyrics, I start singing and stop writing.
Happy Holidays, Natalie!
And thanks, Mary!
He does seem to be a man of many talents and interests! Here's my best to him on his book. Thank you for posting the interview.
Thanks for the blitz, and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Thanks for stopping by, C. Lee!
Merry Christmas, Mary!
Congrats to Peter on his new book! It sounds fascinating.
Hope you and your family have wonderful Christmas holiday, Tyrean!
That's interesting Natalie and Tyrean. I seriously thought I was the odd ball out on this one. Glad I'm not the only writing in silence or to classical music :)
Thanks Mary. And yes, I'm finding I'm not alone that I write in silence. Of course, just realized I'm listening to Newsboys as I write this - but that doesn't count!
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