Entertainment Weekly calls him a “Christian-publishing phenom,” while TIME Magazine heralded him a “the king of the genre” and BookPage described him as “a bona fide publishing phenomenon.” But for all of his commercial, cultural and critical success, Frank Peretti’s own story is one of a humble man from humble beginnings given an extraordinary gift of storytelling.
Born in 1951 with a rare genetic disease, cystic hygroma, Frank’s face was horribly disfigured. Even after multiple facial surgeries, Frank struggled with speech and his face bore many scars. Peretti remembers his early school years vividly. “I was pushed, shoved, thrown, hit, insulted, badgered, manhandled, teased, and harassed,” says Peretti. “I was tired of kids asking, ‘What’s wrong with your tongue?’ before they would even ask my name.”
Fortunately for young Peretti, he found love and acceptance from his parents, two brothers and church family. It was just the rest of the world that didn’t know what to do with him. (Peretti discusses his own story as well as solutions for bullying in his only non-fiction work, No More Bullies, from W Publishing Group.)
Eventually, through time and prayer, Frank found his place – acting in drama, speaking at his church youth group, writing and telling spell-binding stories for others. “I was made to be a writer, and I was always a storyteller and a writer from the time I was a kid. I would draw comics up in my room, I wrote stories on my mom’s power portable typewriter. I would tell stories to the neighborhood kids under the back porch. But it took a long time for me to really realize that’s what I was supposed to do.”
He started dating the love of his life and future wife, Barbara Jean, when he was only 19 and she was 16. Frank left his childhood home of Seattle to study English and film at UCLA, but eventually came back home to marry Barb and assist his father, who was a pastor in a small church.
In 1983, Frank turned from church work to pursue his love of story. By day he worked at a ski factory, by night he spun tales of evil and truth. He published his first book, a YA novel entitled The Door in the Dragon’s Throat, with Crossway Books, a small religious publisher. Crossway was pleased with the book’s acceptance and offered to publish Frank’s previously submitted (and rejected) adult novel, This Present Darkness. Ignored by 13 other publishers This Present Darkness changed the face of Christian fiction forever and established Frank as the master storyteller of his time. Almost overnight, Peretti moved from complete obscurity to a bestseller with a broad and loyal fan base.
He followed up quickly with an equally successful sequel, Piercing the Darkness (1989). The two books together have sold more than 3.5 million copies to date. He also wrote the international bestsellers The Oath (1995), The Visitation (1999) and Monster (2005). He has won two ECPA Gold Medallion Awards for excellence in fiction for The Oath and Piercing the Darkness. Two of his books have been made into feature films and three others are optioned or in development. Ralph Winter, producer of X-Men and Planet of the Apes, is producing the movie adaptation of his novel The Visitation. The movie, which released in January 2006, featured Kelly Lynch (Charlie’s Angels, Joe Somebody), Edward Furlong (Terminator, American History X), and country music legend Randy Travis.
Frank believes his writing will always be identified on the “dark side” saying, “it is given I will be pegged as a suspense writer. I guess I find those topics interesting. But if you don’t have some kind of evil – well, at the least some kind of struggle – then you don’t have a story to tell. You’ve got to have something to drive the story. You’ve got to have something to keep the pages turning.”
Now Frank lives in a log cabin in the Pacific Northwest, writing full time and doing short speaking tours as his schedule allows. He spends his free time piloting a plane, riding his tractor, and playing banjo with his popular bluegrass band.