Moving on to Long Way Gone… What were your goals in writing this story?

My goal was that I don’t care what your sin, or how far you’ve come from where you started, how bad things have gotten, how dirty you feel, or how dark your life seems, there is no place on planet earth where the blood of Jesus can’t snatch you back. No gone is too far gone. The blood of Jesus wins. Period.

It ends up being much more difficult for your “prodigal,” Cooper, to forgive himself than it was for his father to forgive him. Why do you think that is?

Because I think it’s true in life. And if you’ve betrayed someone you love, who’s loved you when you weren’t lovable, you understand what I’m talking about.

Music plays a big role in this story. Cooper’s dad says, “Music cuts people free. It silences the thing that’s trying to kill us.” How does music cut each of the characters free in this novel, and is music a freeing thing for you personally?

When David sinned with Bathsheba, their son died. When David got the news, as Bathsheba’s sobs echoed down the hall, David climbed up off the floor, bathed, anointed himself, and walked into the Holy tent … and worshipped. Think about that, he worshipped.

When we worship, we declare across the stratosphere, that while we are not Holy, He is. That declaration cuts us free. That lifting of the arms. That raising of the voice. That prostrating before the throne. That bowing.

David knew that. I’m working on it.

I love to worship, although I’m not sure you want to stand too close to me in church. My sons tell me I have to tendency to sing just a bit off key. By the way, as I’ve looked at Scripture, I can find no place in the Bible where the word worship is not accompanied by an action of the body.

You’ve said that Long Way Gone was tough to write, that you experienced some serious writer’s block. Would you tell us what it was like, and how you overcame that challenge?

Halfway through the writing of Long Way Gone, I discovered I’d written myself into what looked like a dead end. In desperation, I got up out of my chair, grabbed my Bible, and walked out onto the pool deck where I began circling, reading the Psalms out loud. I kept praying, “Lord, Your word is true. More true than my circumstances. My circumstances don’t dictate my reality or Yours. Your Word reveals it. Help—please help.”

This continued every day. For three weeks….

Somewhere in my fourth week, I had an idea. Just a glimmer. I thought, “What have I got to lose?” So, I walked inside, sat down, and started writing. An hour in, I had to stop typing because I couldn’t see the screen. Tears make things blurry. The solution, the work-around, had been there all along. It was as if The Lord had led me by the hand around a blind corner. Ten thousand words later, I closed my laptop. It’s the most I’ve ever written in a single day.

The Christy Awards graciously declared Long Way Gone their “2017 Book of the Year.” When my editor called to tell me, I scratched my head and I thought, “Look what God did!”

What do you hope readers take away after reading Long Way Gone?

I want readers to know that no gone is too far gone. That His arm is not so short that it cannot save. That there is no place—and I do mean NO place you can go, where the love of Jesus can’t bring you back. This side of the grave, the blood and love of Jesus can reach further than you can fall.

Click through to find out about Charles’ brand-new novel–and why he loves how it turned out…

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