What kind of research did you do for this novel? Did any findings particularly surprise you?
Most of my research had to do with the patterns and psychology of victims of abuse. It wasn’t pleasant reading. It’s heart-wrenching. I didn’t want to misrepresent survivors of abuse.
I talked with a friend who is a strong Christian, highly educated, and a certified family counselor. She suggested I present my characters to a group of counselors who meet once a week. When we all gathered, I explained my dilemma and presented my “case studies.” One gentleman cried and said he’d worked with young men exactly like Roman Velasco. Grace’s emotional trauma and means of coping are also common.
I also needed to learn about graffiti artists. I started with online searches and then met a young man who had been a gang tagger in the Bay Area. We talked about his motivations, experiences, and the dangers he faced, not the least of which was leaving the gang.
I found a website with terms and definitions regarding graffiti. I also read some books about the young man’s idol, Banksy. No one knows the identity of Banksy, but his work is known around the world. I liked the mystery element and employed it.
The surprise came after the book was written and I had the opportunity to meet Cameron Moberg, a Christian graffiti artist in San Francisco. He does work around the world, as well. He reaffirmed what I saw happening in Roman Velasco’s life. Cameron’s art is also on the cover of The Masterpiece.
Many of his works are of spectacular, imagined birds. How could I not see God chuckling at how He brings things together?
Your novels look deeply into characters’ motivations and emotions. What do you hope readers will learn delving into the inner thoughts of these characters?
Sometimes the hardest-hearted person you know is the most broken inside. All too often, we judge by the outward appearance, but God knows the heart.
Also, even when we don’t see God at work, He is working. Never give up on anyone. Just keep praying and walking the walk. You never really know what’s going on inside someone. The blessing is you may witness the creation of a new God-ordained masterpiece.
God draws our hearts to Him in many different ways. Without revealing too much, what are some ways He does this for the characters in The Masterpiece?
Pain tends to turn us to God–so does despair that comes from unanswered questions. What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? Why doesn’t anything the world has to offer bring satisfaction and contentment? What’s missing? Roman wrestles with these questions.
Grace knows the answers, but struggles with walking by faith and trusting God to work things out. The human heart is deceitful. We can so easily justify and rationalize behavior we know is wrong. It takes strength that only God can give to overcome the battles every one of us faces every day in this world.
Many of us turn to Christ as Savior, but still want to remain lord of our life. It’s a paradox, but full surrender is the only way to a victorious life. We only feel God’s indwelling, ever-abiding presence when we decide to make Him Lord of all aspects of ourselves. It isn’t easy to live that way because it brings suffering. It also brings purpose and joy.
Click to find out what Francine says was the most challenging part about writing her main character…