This book is called Not Guilty and was actually written by my friend Candi Pullen and me back in 1982, but was published for the first time by HopeSprings Books in 2013. It’s the story of a minister’s daughter named Carrie Shepherd, who’s raped by a masked intruder as she’s coming home from college one day. She’s so traumatized by the event, she doesn’t tell anyone until she realizes she’s pregnant. How can she face her family and fiancé? What about the church? Who was the rapist? Could he be a member of the congregation?
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
I was sitting in church one evening listening to a sermon on an entirely different topic when this plot came into my head whole cloth. I went home and wrote furiously for three days then showed an eighty page hand-written first draft to Candi. She had a lot of ideas for additions and sub-plots, so we put our heads together for the next year on it.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I’d love to get everyone to read Not Guilty now, because the sequel, Not Ashamed, is coming out in July, 2015. It’s the story of Charity Wright, Carrie’s daughter, as she comes home to confront her biological father, the man who raped her mother. Since both stories are written in a mystery format, the second one will spoil then end of the first if you don’t read them in sequence.
Tell the readers how you got started writing.
I started writing on a dare. I’ve always been a voracious reader. My friend had given me a large grocery bag of Harlequin Romances. After reading quite a few of them, I complained that they all had exactly the same plot. I said, “I could write a better novel than these.” So she dared me to do it. I’ve been writing ever since.
Do you write in more than one genre? If so, why?
Yes. I’ve always said I was a writer who hates to write. It’s not something that comes easily or naturally. It’s a compulsion that I believe is God given. When He gives me a story, I have to get it down on paper. I love mysteries, and a lot of my stories are in a mystery format, but I’ve also written several Biblical novels. My novel Tokens of Promise is an imagining of the story of Tamar and Judah from Genesis 38. It was also published in 2013 by HopeSprings, and Woman of Light, a story of Deborah will be released in October, 2015.
Some writers like quiet when they write, others want music. Which one are you?
I have to have quiet. It’s not because I don’t love music. It’s because I do. When I listen to music, I want to sing or dance, or both. I get very little writing done.
Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
It’s definitely a combo. I have bunches of the small legal pads for when an idea comes into my head, so I can get it down on paper as quickly as possible. But then I enter it into the computer, and most of the revisions are done from there.
What is does your writing process look like?
I tend to write in stages: dialogue first, then go back and put in the different layers—sensory, visceral, emotional, settings.
What’s the worst technical difficulty or disaster you’ve ever had as a writer?
I’m a total non-techy when it come to computers and social media and have experienced a number of flubs, including wiped out discs, crashed computer drives where I lost 50 pages I’d just written, improper blog setups that caused me to lose my web name address.
Are you a morning writer, afternoon, evening, or midnight oil writer?
Because I’ve always had children (and now grandchildren) to take care of while I was writing, most of my writing has always been done after nine p.m. and late into the night.
What’s the first book you ever remember reading as a child?
You’re really asking me to go back a long ways. When I was little, we started learning to read with Fun with Dick and Jane. But I had a huge Grimm’s Fairy Tales long before that that I loved to have read to me, and I often read myself as soon as I could.
What’s the book you are reading now?
I just finished a light-hearted mystery called The Case of Moomah’s Moolah by Jim Stevens, and am getting ready to start on Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson.
How often do you read non-fiction?
Probably not as often as I should. I recently finished The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. Written in a fiction format, this is an amazing book that I highly recommend. Books on ancient Israel, its laws and customs, and histories of Biblical figures are also among my favorites.
What’s the first book, in the genre you write in, that you remember reading?
It would probably be one of the Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew mysteries. I loved those as a kid. But it’s also possible that it was a Hardy Boys mystery. My dad had a bookcase full of those, and I read all of them.
Do you know the meaning of your name? If so, does it fit you?
Teresa means Harvester. I’ve been a children’s Sunday School worker for most of the last forty years (I now teach Senior ladies) so I’d say, yes. My greatest joy is to lead someone to Christ. And that’s the greatest desire I have for my writing too.
I love going to the movies. Do you? If so, what was the most recent movie you’ve seen?
The last movie I saw was Heaven is for Real, and I’m going to see God’s Not Dead tonight. Can’t wait.
Tell us a little bit about your hobbies outside of writing?
I sang in the choir for most of my life. I’m not the least bit artistic, but I love art, so I do try my hand at photography. For the last seven years, my friend Krystal and I have taken up hiking through the woods to find waterfalls. We’ve chased waterfalls from Niagara to El Junque in Puerto Rico
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy?
I guess my philosophy that I tried to instill in my children comes from Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you whereever you go.”
It’s 1974 and Carrie Shepherd, daughter of the minister at Windspree Community Church, is a college senior with plans to be a missionary in Africa. Raped by a masked assailant, Carrie is so traumatized she tells no one until she realizes she’s pregnant. Refusing to have an abortion, she must find the courage to face her family, her fiancé, her friends, and a gossiping, angry congregation which may include her attacker.
Can Carrie find a way to cope with the secrets, silence, and shame that threatens to tear apart her family and church?
“Ooh,” she mused dreamily as she put her wallet back into her purse, “If Easter is as pretty as this day, maybe we ought to have our wedding outdoors. The birds’ singing would make such a beautiful accompaniment to Andrew’s voice.” Even as the words came out of her mouth, she suddenly realized how quiet the birds had become. She was startled when a small group of sparrows flew from a bush into higher branches of a nearby tree. A few of the birds had been so close to her she felt the air moving as they darted past. It took her a second to catch her breath. “W-well, pardon me. I didn’t mean to come so close. I wouldn’t hurt you. You d-mmph.”
As one large hand encompassed her face, another grabbed her shoulder like a vice. Uselessly, she dropped her books, kicked and tried desperately to grab above and behind herself at the heat of her attacker. It was all happening so fast, her mind staggered. He threw her to the ground with the cool determination of one driven, not by malice, but by a job to be done. There was little anger evidenced in his onslaught, even as Carrie frantically grabbed for the gray knit ski mask that kept his identity hidden from her.
He calmly collected her hands and drew them into one of his and held them there as easily as a father holding back the hands of a toddler straying too near a flame. His grasp didn’t hurt her, he just possessed tremendous strength. In Carrie’s mind, he was huge. Her efforts were thwarted at every turn, as he had his way. He tore her clothes as if they were made of tissue paper. She screamed and yelled and kicked with all her might, jerking her tiny fists as if convinced she could actually free them. By now he had also restrained her legs so that the only weapons she had left to her were her mind and her mouth. “Satan, I rebuke you!” she cried, using what little strength she had left. His body tensed and he breathed in spurts, like a bull preparing for the charge. Her rebuke had angered him, and he became deliberately cruel. He was relentless in the pursuit of his goal, and Carrie was helpless to do more than just cry out, “No, No! Oh, my God help me, NO!” Mercifully, she fainted, and her torment was over. Or had it just begun?
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About the Author:
Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age. She has a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years. Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia. Her website is TeresaPollardWrites.com