I am superexcited to welcome Luke Wordley to my blog for my very first Q&A. Luke is the author of one of my favourite books, The Fight, which is out today. It’s such a gripping and honest read. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. All I can say is read it and I promise you won’t regret it. You can find my review of the book here. And now on to the Q&A.
It’s a pleasure! I’m discovering a whole new world of amazing book review sites, so thank you for reviewing my book. My only problem is my “to read” list is getting unmanageably long discovering all these new books!
For those who aren’t familiar with The Fight, can you tell us a little bit about it?
The story is about a teenage boy called Sam, who suffers a life-shattering family tragedy. As a result he becomes incredibly angry, fighting everything and everyone around him. One day, a street fight leads him to a boxing club run by a Christian boxing trainer called Jerry who has dedicated himself to helping kids like Sam. But Jerry quickly realizes that Sam’s fighting talent, fuelled by his anger, sets him apart as a potential champion boxer, leaving Jerry with a cruel dilemma. He wants to help Sam overcome his anger issues and discover God’s peace, yet he knows Sam’s anger could propel them both to the stardom and riches that Jerry himself had missed out upon. It’s a tough, yet inspiring story, and one which I think makes most of us question what we would truly do in the same circumstances.
What inspired you to write The Fight and how long did it take you to complete the book? I understand it coincided with quite a tough time in your life?
The Fight actually took me ten years to complete! I started in 2002, writing the first half whilst travelling overseas. When I returned to the UK, I took a job running a small international development charity and the book was put away. The charity grew very fast and was phenomenally exciting as we ran projects all over the world. But I was working too many hours and, coupled with having two young children and very poor sleep, I increasingly struggled to cope. In 2008, it came to a head and I suffered a stress-induced breakdown that led to a crisis of faith and a period of depression.
Thankfully, God slowly restored me to health and, once recovered, I felt prompted to retrieve the manuscript from the cupboard. I was amazed to find I had stopped writing just at the point that one of my characters suffers a crisis of faith and depression. I began typing again, writing with an insight and authenticity that would have been impossible seven years earlier.
Since both main characters are male, is this a book for men only?
Although I wrote the book with men and teenage boys in mind, and the subject matter is quite masculine, still most of my readers have been women! I’ve had plenty of feedback starting “I bought this for my husband and would never normally read a book about boxing but…” I’ve also loved hearing stories about how sons and husbands who would never normally read Christian literature have been so intrigued to see Mum glued to a book with a boxer on the front cover, that they have lined up to read it after her!
What do you hope readers will take away from The Fight?
First and foremost, I hope they enjoy a rip-roaring entertaining read. But I hope The Fight may also challenge and inspire them in their walk with God.
How has your book been used as a tool for prison ministry?
When I first finished The Fight, I gave it to a friend involved in prison work. He loved the book and pressed upon me how valuable it could be in prison ministry. So when I self-published, I sold the book on a “Buy One, Give One Free” principle, with the free book going to prison ministry. We’ve now distributed around 1,000 copies of The Fight to around 80 prisons in the UK, and I have had some amazing feedback about how prisoners have enjoyed the story and it has helped them on their journey of faith.
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to replicate the “Buy One, Give One Free” scheme to this new Tyndale version at this stage (except for sales through my own website). However, I am working on a wider scheme hopefully to be launched in the autumn. I pray this latest launch is just another step in getting appropriate books, including other people’s titles, into prisons in the UK, USA and elsewhere. I will be publishing more about the scheme through my website at www.lukewordley.com later in the summer.
What feedback have you received from prisoners and prison staff?
I’ve had really, really encouraging feedback from both chaplains and prisoners themselves. The chaplain at HM Prison Feltham (the largest Young Offender’s Institute in London), for example, says he finds it’s a great book to give out, especially to those lads who have real aggression issues. I think the prisoners themselves have just really appreciated a gritty, hard-hitting story which deals with the sort of issues they can relate to and identify with, yet has a strong Christian message.
What are you currently working on and when can we expect to read it?
I’m working on a thriller set in Africa and I’ve written about a third of it so far. I’ve spent a lot of time working in international development in Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo, which inspired the story. I think it’s a pacey read, a bit more epic in scale than The Fight and I’m hoping it will be out in 2015.
Thanks so much for your time Luke and many congratulations on today’s publication of The Fight!
To find out more about Luke, The Fight and his future projects, please visit www.lukewordley.com, like his facebook page at Luke Wordley, or follow him on Twitter @LukeWordley. You can purchase The Fight through Luke’s website to support his prison ministry or from Book Depository (the latter offers free delivery worldwide).