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Frank Peretti

Author of  Monster

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt  |  Interview

CBP:  I thought it would be nice if we could start by you giving your Christian testimony.

FRANK:  I was raised in a Christian home.  Very, very blessed in that regard, and by Godís grace, however it works, I was always a Christian.  I tell people usually the last time I got saved I was about eleven.  It was in my uncleís church in Grandview, Washington.  He gave the invitation, after church he says, I noticed you raised your hand, youíve never accepted Christ before?Ē  And I said, ďYeah, all the time.Ē  

I remember being in first or second grade and I was a Christian then, thatís how I identified myself.

CBP:  Your new book Monster--itís been a really big hit.  And I noticed throughout the book thereís a lot of landscape.  A bird told me you had done some tracking yourself?

FRANK:  Oh, I didnít do tracking myself, but I studied a lot about tracking.  And I actually interviewed a real live tracker.  He came to my house, he brought his gear, and he had his tracker staff, just like itís described in the book.  I walked across the carpet in my living room, and then he got out his gear, his light and everything and he showed how my footprints were impressed in the carpet, and how he measures the gait, the direction, thatís what they do when theyíre tracking lost people or escaped criminals, or whatever.  It was really interesting.  Yeah, the tracker in the book; heís an honest-to-goodness tracker.

CBP:  Did he take you outdoors as well?

FRANK:  No, we didnít go outdoors.  But I tracked myself outdoors once which was fun.  I was down by the river and I had a roll of ribbon in my pocket, and when I went to look for it, it was gone; it had fallen out of my pocket.  I thought, ďAh ha!  Iím going to track myself.Ē  I turned around and I just tracked my own tracks; the compressions in the grass and things like that to see where Iíd been, and I found it.  

Thatís part of making the book interesting; the whole tracking.  Especially since Bigfoot is known for his tracks.  A lot of what is known about this hypothetical creature is from his tracks.  Right down to the structure of his bones and the interesting mid-tarsal break; where the foot bends in the middle.  And you can always recognize the Sasquash tracks because a human track pushes off from the ball of the foot when we walk.  A little scruff of dirt is ejected behind the ball of the foot in the track.  The Sasquash, when it walks, the foot bends in the middle so the push-off of the foot is half-way back, you see.  The ejection of the dirt happens at the back of the foot.

CBP:  What about bears or other animals?

FRANK:  They have distinctive tracks.  Thatís fascinating.  Dogs, for instance, as they walk, or trot, or run, you can tell what they were doing by how the track is laid out.  Cats step in their own footprints when they walk.  So the rear foot comes down in the front print.  So when a cat is walking, it looks like youíre seeing a two-legged cat because they only leave an impression once for every two feet.  A good tracker can tell if an animal is lying, or if itís hungry, or if itís running from something, or if itís headed home, or how long ago it was there.  

CBP:  So thereís quite a bit of reality; itís not just something thatís created in your mind.  Youíve gone out and done some serious research.

FRANK:  Thatís the key to good fiction is specific detail.  If you can make it as real as you can.  Michael Crichton has done this.  He can write a book and make it so detailed and realistic that we almost question whether itís fiction or not.  Is this a story, or did it really happen?  You have to create a book in a way that a reader can get into it.

For Bigfoot, that right there, I researched that too; their behavior, their diet, their society.  Now, a lot of it is really unknown because if they exist, weíve never caught one.  But based on all the eyewitness accounts, if you line those up with the behavior of the known great apes, the gorilla, the chimpanzee, theyíre very very similar.  So I borrowed from chimpanzees and gorillas, and I reconstructed as close as I could what I feel Ė if there really are sasquashes, thatís probably how they live.  

CBP:  One of your themes, as you talk about DNA and that sort of thing, is a statement against evolution.

FRANK:  What spawned the book, of course, was I was frustrated about evolution; this lie that was foisted on all of us.   Of course, evolution walks on two legs.  One is beneficial mutation thatís acted upon by natural selection.  Thatís a crock; thatís a lie.  Thereís no such thing as beneficial mutations.  And I know that some scientist will want to argue with me; I donít care.  Iíll go on record.  Any mutation is a glitch in the DNA code; itís not included.  Itís an error; itís a glitch.  Youíre going to get the same results if you bang on a computer and smash it; itís not going to get you a better computer.  And I point that out in several points of the book.  

But thatís what spawned the book.  I figured, okay, what if I had a scientist who was trying to prove evolution by accelerating mutations?  Oh, hey, thatís the stuff monster stories are made of; scientists messing around with things that are best left alone.  His experiment gets away from him.  

Letís go a little further now.  Weíll talk about Ė one thing about Bigfoot and evolution that is equally as fascinating, both of these are interesting shelf cases of human mentality.  Itís interesting how you mention Bigfoot and youíre going to get one of two reactions:  either, ďWell, could be,Ē or ďYouíre crazy; youíve been reading too many monster books!Ē  

Itís interesting.  I had a friend of mine do that.  You hardly mention the subject and heís like, ďHave you lost your mind?Ē  I wanted him to say, ďWell, of course, youíve investigated, youíve accumulated the information, youíve checked into it.  You do have an argument, donít you, that you can present?  Iíd like to hear it.Ē  Well, the whole point of that is, a lot of folks think they have things all figured out.  It doesnít matter if they have evidence or whether they really thought it through; thatís just what they believe.

That is an issue in this book.  Is it a bear, is it something else?  There are folks in the book who absolutely will not accept that it is anything but a bear.  But this is an interesting parallel with the evolution issue.  Of course evolution is true.  ďWell, how do you know?Ē  ďWell it just has to be; weíre here, arenít we?Ē  They come up with the strangest reasons to believe in evolution when at the core of it is, how do you salvage religion?  Itís a religious sentiment; itís a faith thing.  But youíll never get them to admit that.

CBP:  It seems like they throw out the same couple of arguments to support themselves.  

FRANK:  Youíve got a parallel in the book; you have folks who just absolutely, positively will not believe in Bigfoot.  The same mentality is on the evolution team who absolutely, positively will not allow for any interpretation of the data on evolution.  Itís the same.  Our issues in the book are the line is drawn between the world of humankind, the world of conscience, morals, virtues, honesty, all the things that make us human.  And the world of animals where often, in fact, theyíre struggling and having to live by natureís rules, and learning that the rules are all different out there.  I like to point that out because evolution erases that line that defines humankind from the beasts.  Thatís where the title becomes kind of a multi-language title because are we talking about the monster that proves this experiment or are we talking about Bigfoot?  We go through several layers and by the end of the book, of course, Iím saying things Ė

CBP: Donít read this if you havenít already read the book.

FRANK:  Yeah, we donít want to spoil it.  Toward the end of the book we do find out that evolution does make monsters of us all because it removes that line.  It removes that distinction; it does reduce us to animals.  So you have these very educated, sophisticated, Ph.D. scientists who pride themselves on their vast knowledge and everything, but they have no qualms about killing that line.  We become beasts.  Even the most educated man can be a monster if he has erased this line.  

I was being subtle about it, but there it is.

CBP:  I think youíre right because a lot of things have come out lately about how Hitler was influenced by Darwinism because he used natural selection.  He thought, ďIím more fit than you so I can eliminate you.Ē  And it does, if you take it to its conclusion, we become like the beasts.

FRANK:  Well, Columbine.  Eric Harris who shot his schoolmates, he was wearing a t-shirt at the time that said Natural Selection.  He believed in natural selection, and on his web page he said, ďI love natural selection, itís a great way to get rid of all the blankety-blanks in the world.Ē  He wanted to blow up all the jerks and all the jocks and all the weaklings.  He believed in natural selection and evolution, and thatís what justified what he did.  

You can read the autopsy report, the medical examiner who examined a young man who was wearing Ė who died of multiple gunshot wounds, and he was wearing a blood spattered t-shirt that said natural selection.

CBP:  What do you hope to spark with this book?

FRANK:  I wanted to tell folks a real fun, exciting story.  

CBP:   And youíve done that.

FRANK:  I want them to walk away just scratching their heads.  Maybe there arenít beneficial mutations, maybe we have been handed a line.  

Thereís also the political system, thereís the scientist Michael Cappella, nickname of Cap.  He lost his job at the university because he dared ask questions about evolution.  And Iíve said this before, and Iíll just admit it, my evolution characters are all bad guys.  You know, the critics will get on you for that.  Youíre supposed to have ďmulti-faceted villainsĒ.  I know, but I was mad.  I had read enough evolutionistsí literature to know that they can get downright nasty.  They donít like creationism.  Weíre a threat.