Category Archives: Heaven’s Prey

Heaven’s Prey: the supporting cast

The past few Fridays you’ve met the key characters from Heaven’s Prey: Ruth Warner (the woman in peril), Tony Warner (the frantic husband), and Harry Silver (the villain). Today I thought it would be interesting to get the reactions of some of the other people affected by this story:

Carol Silver Daniels: (Harry’s sister and only living relative)

We shared the same parents, but after what he did, I have no brother. <gulping sigh> He killed one of those young women here in Calgary, while he was visiting us. We had no clue. My sons were so proud to have a famous uncle. <snort> I tried to shield them from the news reports, but they knew. Kids in school can be so cruel. Adults, too.

The shame of being connected to him is bad enough, but some people are too angry to think straight and they want to take it out on us. Things were settling down, and then he had to escape from prison and stir it up again. Thanks to a two-faced reporter, I’ve had my photo splashed across the news again—in front of my apartment building, so the crazies know where I live. I’m only talking to you now because it doesn’t matter anymore. Last night we got a death threat. We’re moving. Hiding.

As for Harry, I hope they find him. I hope he resists arrest and they kill him. Excuse me, I have to pack.

Tracey: (the woman Harry loved and lost)

<Skyping in from her work at an orphanage in Latvia>

It’s funny you’d ask about Harry now. These past few days I’ve had a strong urge to pray for him. <smile> He wouldn’t like that very much. But I’m praying anyway.

My husband and I were already working here at the mission when Harry was arrested. My grandfather wouldn’t tell me much, just to pray, but one of my friends sent me the details. <looks away, looks back> We were engaged once, Harry and I. When I became a Christian, he broke it off. He was so angry! A few years later I met Bob, and here we are, with a fulfilling ministry and two beautiful children.

But it’s affected me. <she touches her hair> You may notice Harry’s victims all had long, blond hair and blue eyes like me. They were close to the age I was when we broke up. Was he really killing me?

Sometimes if I wake in the night I still struggle with this weird survivor guilt. Or worse, I wonder if their deaths are my fault. If I’d renounced my faith and he’d taken me back, would those women still be alive and their families unbroken? <sad smile> But I couldn’t have really walked away from God. And I loved Harry too much to lie to him. I can only hope and pray that he’ll open his heart to Jesus. There’s room at the cross for people who’ve done even worse.

Mr. Delaney: (Harry’s mentor)

You’ll have to speak up, please. My hearing’s going as fast as the rest of me. Harry Silver … <suspicion of tears> I loved that boy like a son. Talent! He had the gift—and the passion to use it. He started his stock car career with Team Delaney, and I was so proud. It hurt when he moved on to the IndyCar circuit, but I’d never have tried to hold him back. <humph> Maybe I should have. Should have kept a better eye on him. For a boy who loved to race, his crimes were suicide.

George Sinclare: (the drug lord)

<incoming cell call, untraceable> I hear you’re asking questions about that escaped killer, Harry Silver. My representatives took the risk of getting him out of prison, and this is how he repays us—by blowing his cover. And he didn’t even grab the victim he wanted. <coarse laugh> I saw a photo of the one he got, and it serves him right.

We had a decoy heading for the other side of the country to lead the cops away. I’d tip them off on where to find him, but it would reflect badly on one of my business associates. Once the boat picks Silver up and they get to international waters, he’ll tell the captain where the money’s hidden. <noncommittal sound> If the cops find and shoot him, they’ll be doing me a favour. I’d lose his escape fee, but money isn’t everything to a successful businessman. Security matters more, and Silver is a loose end.

Too bad about the woman. I hear she was on her way home from a prayer meeting, of all things. Didn’t do her much good.

Prison spokesman (anonymous):

Three Corrections Canada employees were injured trying to stop Harry Silver’s escape, and I resent media implications about our attention to our duties. With the latest funding cuts we’re stretched thinner than ever, but I assure you that each warden, guard and support worker does his or her best to uphold our responsibilities and to keep the citizens of Canada safe.

Pastor John Linton:

The odds of this happening are incredible, and I don’t know what God is up to. Whatever happens—or has already happened—I believe that God is enough for Ruth. Since He didn’t prevent this, He’ll somehow sustain her through it.

Remember, Harry Silver can do a lot of hurt, but only short-term. He can’t touch Ruth’s soul. If he sticks to his pattern of killing his victims <clears his throat> then my friend and sister in faith will suffer terribly–but then she’ll enter into eternity with her Lord and Saviour. It’s we who remain who’ll have the hardest time in the days ahead.

I challenge you with this: what if this “coincidental” abduction of a woman who’s been praying for Harry Silver is God’s way of turning up the heat in a battle for a lost soul? We write off people like Harry as too far gone to save, but God says the only ones He’ll reject are those who reject His outstretched hand.

Harry Silver could be forgiven and his life made new. It’s happened before. Let’s just hope and pray it will happen this time.

Ruth’s sister, Lorna:

Ruth and my daughter, Susan, were very close. When Susan was murdered, it shattered us all. Ruth took it really hard, and I was afraid she’d lose her faith. So I was glad when she started praying for the killer. It helped her forgive and find healing. But now—I forgave Harry Silver once. I don’t know if I can do it again. How could God let him take my daughter and my sister? <sound of sobs, Lorna hangs up the phone>

The girl who got away:

<Her parents say she can’t be contacted … still crying, and under psychological care>

Constable TJ Weber: (blond police officer, female)

All officers are fully briefed on the existing situation and the criminal record of the accused. Based on security videos at and near the abduction site, we’ve increased our patrols here in the Chester area. He may have kept driving, or doubled back, but we’re serious about keeping our citizens safe and about apprehending Harry Silver. If at all possible, before Ms. Warner comes to any harm.

As you can see, I’m an older version of Silver’s target victim. That may give me some extra motivation to see this case solved, but my personal feelings will not affect performance of my duty. I’m neither afraid of the accused nor out for vengeance. If I were the one to locate him, and if he were to make a threatening move, I would shoot to incapacitate. Lethal force would only be a last resort.
===

Janet Sketchley‘s novel, Heaven’s Prey, releases November 1, 2013 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page.

Heaven’s Prey: the villain

Dressed in prison drab, Harry Silver lounges in his chair in the visiting room. His dark hair could use a trim. He pins you with mocking blue eyes. He speaks:

Understand one thing. If this were real, I wouldn’t be talking to you. Period. Some tabloid journalist came once, and I was bored enough to see him. Wanted the inside scoop on what I’d done, what it felt like … [Harry’s lip curls] Your nice little Christian blogger here wouldn’t dare print the language I used to tell him off.

[He scans the tiny room.] I was a champion race car driver, until the governing body stripped me of my title. On the track, behind the wheel, I was alive. There’s not much life in here. Just memories: of speed, and of the twisted passions that destroyed my career.

Such beautiful women … I couldn’t stop, didn’t dare ask for help. That would have ended things even faster. The last one—Susan—why did she have to be a Christian? How dare she forgive me? She paid, let me tell you. She paid. But at night, even in this miserable place … I still hear her voice. [His fingers dig into his hair as if trying to hold his head together.] I still hear those words: “Jesus loves you.”

cover art: Heaven's Prey by Janet Sketchley[He spits a stream of curses we don’t need to hear. Glares.] I don’t want God’s forgiveness! And He’s not getting mine. He took everything I’ve ever loved. Except racing. I took that from myself. If you want the details, read my story.

Heaven’s Prey. [He makes air quotes.] If God is chasing me, it’s not to rescue me like Susan said. It’s for judgment, not mercy. Even I don’t think I deserve to live.

I can tell you, though, I’m in this mess because little choices add up. I didn’t wake up one morning and say “Hey, I think I’ll become a serial rapist-murderer today. Just for kicks. They’ll all be young, blond. So what if it finishes me?”

I’d give anything to go back and undo the mess I’ve made. But it’s too late. Eight lives too late.

≈≈≈

Link: Heaven’s Prey page.

Heaven’s Prey: the frantic husband

Tony Warner is married to Ruth from Heaven’s Prey. I don’t have a picture of him to share, but he’s average height, a bit on the cuddly side weight-wise, with sandy hair and beard, and he wears glasses.

Tony quirks an eyebrow, shrugs at you and starts talking:

“Cuddly side”? I suppose that beats “chunky.” Hey, is it my fault my wife’s an amazing cook? Not that she did a lot of it after we lost Susan, our niece. We lived on takeout for months.

I thought I was going to lose Ruth, too. She was drowning in grief—and hate. And she’s the Christian. She wouldn’t see the counsellor I found for her, so when it got bad enough I made an appointment for us to see her pastor.

cover art: Heaven's Prey by Janet SketchleyThe look on her face when we pulled into the church lot! You have to understand: I refused to even be married in a church. No offense, but I don’t believe in God, and I’m not going to pretend. If God were real, wouldn’t He have protected Susan and all the other innocent victims of this world?

Ruth’s pastor, John Linton, is an okay guy despite the theology. Since that night, he’s come to the house for supper off and on. He’s single, and I already mentioned that Ruth likes to cook. He never pushes his faith, and doesn’t overstay his welcome.

His advice has helped Ruth. Prayer’s a crutch, but my wife needed it for a while. It’s time to throw it away now. She’s gotten … obsessed … with Harry Silver. This is the filth that murdered our niece, and she’s praying for him, calling him by his first name. It’s ridiculous.

And sometimes when she looks at me I can tell: she prays for me, too. What am I, a reno project? She used to love me the way I am. When she got into faith I figured it was a phase, but it’s not passing. Sometimes I don’t know how much more I can take.

Silver escaped from prison a couple days ago. They’ll catch him. There’s nowhere he can go. I just hope he doesn’t take another victim first.

I was afraid this would start Ruth brooding again, but she seems okay. I bet she’ll insist on going to her prayer meeting tonight even though it’s pouring out. Going—and praying for Silver. I wonder how the others feel about that.

This has to stop. How do I make her understand?

≈≈≈

[Author’s note: If you’ve read Heaven’s Prey, Tony has more to say, in response to a reader who asked, “Have you been able to forgive your wife’s abductor?” Since this takes place after the story’s end, I don’t suggest reading it before the novel. Link: After Heaven’s Prey]

Link: Heaven’s Prey page.

Heaven’s Prey: the woman in peril

Today I welcome a very special guest to my blog. Ruth Warner has lived in my head for almost 20 years now, and I’m excited to introduce her to the world.

cover art: Heaven's Prey by Janet SketchleyRuth is the heroine in my novel, Heaven’s Prey—that’s her picture on the cover. She and her husband, Tony, are in their mid-forties. We’re chatting with Ruth today just before the novel begins, because (whispering so she won’t hear) she’s about to be abducted by an escaped convict.

Ruth (rolling eyes): How many times have you rewritten or edited my story now? I know what’s coming. But for the sake of people who haven’t read it yet, I’ll pretend it’s my first time through the plot.

Janet: Thanks. And for the record, I’m proud of how well you’ll handle everything that happens. I hope you’ll give our readers some things to think about. So… let’s back up to the Wednesday this all begins. It’s mid-June. And it’s pouring—heavy winds and rain off the Atlantic from a storm that’s tracked upward along the eastern seaboard of the US until it hit Nova Scotia, Canada.

Ruth: I work at Harrington’s Fabric Hut, downtown. What a drive to get home! The storm drains can’t keep up with so much water. I’ve already heard of a few streets being closed. Luckily I live on high ground.

Janet: So you’re home from work and probably soaked.

Ruth: Just got changed, actually. It was so nice coming home to chili in the slow cooker. The spicy smell met me at the door. My husband, Tony, was already here. He’s a principal at one of the local high schools, and his day ends earlier than mine. It starts earlier, too.

Janet: The last few years have been brutal. Can you tell us about that?

Ruth: We’ve been through a lot. Our niece, Susan, went missing in Toronto two years ago. She was in her early 20’s, just starting a nursing career. The police were already looking for a serial rapist-murder, and Susan was … one more victim for him. For us … Tony and I have no children. Susan was like the daughter we never had. It still hurts.

On top of that, the identity of the killer, when they caught him? Harry Silver, champion racing driver. My husband’s hero.

Janet: Healing hasn’t come easily for you, I know. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Ruth: Prayer is what kept me sane. It’s been hard, but I’ve learned to forgive Harry Silver, and to pray for him. I thought it was about healing. That’s what Pastor John said. Nobody warned me I’d start to care about the man’s soul. Tony’s an agnostic. He thinks this is all in my head, and he’s so offended that I’d pray for Harry. I don’t want to hurt him, but I can’t stop praying, either. It’s—well, God wants me to do this.

Janet: Tony’s a real sweetheart, and almost as patient as my own husband, but he just doesn’t understand your relationship with God. You’re praying for him, too, and God can use those prayers.

Ruth: I can’t convince him, so I pray. And tonight … he won’t like me going back out in the storm for our weekly prayer meeting, but Harry recently escaped from prison. They have to catch him before he hurts anyone else, and he needs to know Jesus before he runs out of time. This burden is getting heavier, and it’s too much for me to carry alone. There’s power in group prayer. I just hope Tony doesn’t get too mad.

Janet: What’ll he do while you’re out?

Ruth: He has a woodworking shop set up in the basement, and he spends a lot of time there. Faith got me through losing Susan; carving is what helped Tony.

Janet: Is there a particular Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Ruth: The Psalms and the Book of Philippians were a huge help to me in the early days of praying for Harry’s victims’ families, and eventually for Harry himself. The verse that really hit home when I started praying for him was Ezekiel 3:18. Let me grab my Bible … here it is: “When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.” That’s from the NIV.

I’ve been praying for God to prepare Harry’s heart, and to send someone to warn him. He’s done such horrible things—but God still loves him. He yearns for him. I know it from the nightmares that made me pray for him. You or I might write Harry Silver off, but God hasn’t.

Janet: To be honest, I have to admit I wish there were a limit, a point beyond which God would reject a cry for forgiveness. I struggle with the thought of people who commit crimes like Harry’s—or worse—being welcomed into the kingdom of God. But I love this magnificent God who is not willing that any should perish. His mercy is beyond understanding.

Ruth: It is, indeed.

Janet: Let’s move on to some lighter things. Coffee or tea? Cake or Pie?

Ruth: I drink both, but I’m a tea person. Earl Grey’s my favourite. As for cake or pie, it depends. If I’m baking, it’s pie. Blueberry is my specialty. If I’m ordering, cheesecake. There’s this spot in Halifax, Sweet Hereafter Cheesecakery, with over 100 varieties of cheesecake in their recipe book. You know you want to get one to celebrate the novel’s release.

Janet: I do indeed. And since Sweet Hereafter is a real place, I can indulge. So what do you like to do to recharge?

Ruth: I love working with fabrics. Quilting is my passion these days, and I’ve started a community quilting group at church. We have nine women, and one lone male, and we sell our projects to raise money for the children’s hospital. Tony said this was one church group even he could support, so he made us some wooden stands to display the finished results.

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Ruth: Hmm … the ocean. Tony and I like to drive along the shore roads on lazy summer weekends. We watch the waves, stop in little shops, and just unwind. And sometimes after a storm like this one, we’ll go and watch the breakers coming in.

Janet: What’s the most surprising, fun or scary thing you’ve ever done?

Ruth: I’m pretty boring. The only unusual thing I’ve done is to forgive and pray for my niece’s killer. It’s been a quiet life, and I’m glad.

Janet: And I’m sorry for what’s about to happen, but you’ll discover that no matter where you go, Jesus will be there.

Ruth: That sounds ominous …

===

Janet Sketchley‘s novel, Heaven’s Prey, releases November 1, 2013 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page.

Here’s the Cover for Heaven’s Prey

cover art: Heaven's Prey by Janet Sketchley

I’m blown away, and so happy to finally see what Ruth looks like. Our cover designer really captured the feel of the novel.

What do you think?

[Clicking the cover will take you to Heaven’s Prey on Amazon.com (affiliate link for Choose NOW Publishing). To see more of designer Christina Fuselli’s work, visit Fueslli Art and Design.]