As a boy, Frank Peretti was fascinated, even obsessed with monsters and the paranormal. He spent hours meticulously painting figurines with black capes, long claws and blood dripping fangs. He decorated his room with monster posters, read monster comic books, wrote stories and drew pictures about evil monsters and mad scientists. But his passion during this time was spinning dark stories for the neighborhood kids about dead bodies and spooks.
Frank’s fixation with monsters had strong subconscious ties. Born with a rare genetic disease, cystic hygroma, his 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, and just as any monster must get tired of screaming at the sight of them, I was tired of kids asking, ‘What’s wrong with your tongue?’ before they would even ask my name. For the first five years of my life, I thought I was a normal kid. Then I went to school and found out in the eyes of my classmates, I was a monster.”
Fortunately for young Peretti, he was confidant that his parents and two brothers loved and accepted him. Church members were accepting and loving as well. 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 in high school – acting in drama, speaking at his church youth group, writing and telling spell-binding stories for others. 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. His first novel, This Present Darkness, was ignored by 14 publishers before it was accepted by a small religious publisher, Crossway Books. The unique novel 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). Peretti was quickly deemed “a bona fide publishing phenomenon” (BookPage) and “the king of the genre” (TIME Magazine). He also wrote the international bestsellers The Oath (1995) and The Visitation (1999). 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, featuring country music legend Randy Travis, will be released in 2005.
Twelve million books later, Peretti revisits his teenage fascination with monsters with his new book, Monster (WestBow Publishers, April 2005).
Frank and Barb Peretti have a log cabin home in the woods—suspiciously similar to the setting of his latest book. Frank’s childhood collection of monster comic books and figurines fills several dusty boxes in the shadowy recesses of his attic.