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CBN.com Welcome to the world of Frank Peretti. A place where the imagination conjurs up images of angels, demons, and monsters. Frank has always been a storyteller. He used his mother’s old typewriter to write about ... well, monsters.
“Frankenstein, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, the Mummy… I wrote stories about monsters,” he tells The 700 Club.
So where did this fascination with monsters come from? Believe it or not, it started with his birth.
“It turned out I had cystic hygroma, which is a malformation of the lymphatic system,” he explains. “But the cystic hygroma spread into my tongue. So my tongue became a tumor in and of itself. It was big -- stuck out far. It was black and bleeding. It was very hideous. They trimmed it back a lot, but it still protruded from my mouth. I learned how to talk with my tongue outside my mouth.”
At home, he was treated like everyone else, but then he went to school…
“That changed everything,” he says. “I found myself suddenly thrust into a culture that for some reason felt some moral obligation [laughs] to make sure I knew I was different, that I was ugly, that I didn’t fit, that I was awful to look at, that I talked funny.”
Frank endured years of physical and verbal bullying. School was more a place of torture than of learning.
“I became very timid, very retreating,” he says. “I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I didn’t look you in the eye. I just had that kind of personality as a kid that basically puts a target on you. ‘This is the kid to pick on.’”
Did Frank ever want revenge? He says yes but his small stature was just one of the reasons why he couldn’t act on his thoughts.
“First of all, I was a good Christian kid,” he says. “My mom and dad taught me never to fight. So I never fought. The other kids picked that up right away. They said, ‘Oh, he’s not going to try to do anything.’ They’d push me, shove me, hit me. I’d just stand there and take it.”
With one final surgery, Frank’s tongue no longer protruded from his mouth. But that didn’t stop the bullying. Frank’s only escape was through his imagination…
“I really got into monsters, because monsters could control their situation. They were ugly; they were outcast. I could identify with that, because I felt like I was a monster too. I wished I could be a monster -- walk around and terrorize somebody for a change instead of them terrorizing me.”
Frank eventually spoke up. A school counselor helped him find places he fit in.
“…Changed my class schedule, got me out of gym class, got me into drama class! Now, was that a pivotal point in my life or what? I suddenly found out I’m not the only weird kid in this school,” he says. “I began to realize there were things that I was good at, things I could do.”
After high school, Frank tried being a musician; he went to college; he tried being a carpenter; he worked in a ski factory; he even became a pastor. It wasn’t until he was 34 years old until he realized his dream of becoming a writer.
“I was kinda writing part-time and struggling at it. Then This Present Darkness became a vision,” he says. “It became a calling. It was the one thing I wanted to do before I died, whether it was ever published or not. I had to get that book written, and there were times of terrible depression, poverty, and struggle.
“I would cry out to the Lord, 'Am I on the right track?' I just kinda felt the Lord saying, ‘Write the book. Just write the book.’ So it took me five years.”
This Present Darkness became an international best seller. He went into writing full-time and wrote a string of bestselling novels. But his most personal book is not a work of fiction. Frank never dealt with the pain from his childhood – until he wrote a book called No More Bullies.
“I wrote the book, and I just bawled,” he says. “I just cried all the way through, but I had to. I had to have that moment, that catharsis, where the old stuff finally came out, and I could really deal with it.”
The book not only helped Frank, it’s moved countless others towards personal healing.
“The Lord said, ‘Frank, I want you to be a builder. I want you to build the body of Christ. Build them up, give them what they need to live their lives. Give them what they need to face these other things that they’re confronting.’”
Frank’s latest novel takes a shot at evolution. Ironically it’s called Monster.
“You’re stomping around out in the woods, and there arethese things out there that are chasing you -- cool suspenseful stuff going on,” he says. “But in the course of this page-turning kind of a story, there is a message there that evolution isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Frank and his wife Barb like to keep things simple at their home in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. He says it keeps him focused on what we all should remember.
He says, “The Lord God carries us throughout our lives just as a father carries his child. The Lord carried me, and He still is. He made you. He knows what you’re good at. He knows what you can do and what you can become. Trust Him. Love Him. He’ll always love you back.”
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