CLEANSED BY FIRE by James R. Callan ~ an interview

Someone’s burning churches. What an interesting premise. And so, I’m thrilled to have James R. Callan here today sharing about his exciting novel CLEANSED BY FIRE. 

First let’s take a sneak peek at what the story’s about…

Churches are burning and a man is murdered, plunging a small Texas town into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. But the disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone—even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town’s residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out into alcohol and drugs who attacks the priest with a knife? 

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist.

Father Frank’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the local drug scene and he soon discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life.

Nike: Wow! That’s intriguing. Sounds like a real page turner. However, there’s usually a personal story about what motivated the author to start writing. James, how long have you been writing and what started you on your writing journey?

James: I’ve been writing for perhaps fifteen years.  But the first part of that time was strictly  non-fiction books.  I had intended to write when I was in my 20’s, but couldn’t support a family on writing. So I took a thirty year detour as a mathematician. Then one day I said, I don’t have to support a family anymore.  I can go back to my first love, writing.

Nike: Tell us something about your main character in CLEANSED BY FIRE we won’t glean from the blurb.

James:  Father Frank has to struggle with his temperament. When he sees problems caused by man, he has to work to keep his temper under control.  One of his problems is to remain true to his role as a minister of God, while part of his nature wants to retaliate.

Nike: What motivated you to write CLEANSED BY FIRE?

James:  There were several church burnings in east Texas a couple of years ago. While they finally caught and convicted two men, they never found a motive other than, “Can we get away with it.”  I wondered what could be a motive for burning churches. Cleansed by Fire came from that.

Nike: Would you consider yourself a “panster” – or a plotter? Or are you a combination of both?

James:  I’m a little of both, but more of a plotter.  I need to have an idea of what the outcome might be.  Often, as the book takes shape, this changes.  But I need an idea at the beginning of what the end could be.

Nike: What was the toughest thing you’ve encountered in this wacky world we call publishing?

James:  Marketing.  It seems that today, no matter who publishes your book, you are responsible for the lion’s share of marketing.  That’s tough for me.

Nike: What is the one thing you’d like your reader to take away from CLEANSED BY FIRE?

James:  I’d like the reader to say, “That was a good mystery. I really enjoyed it and look forward to another mystery by James Callan.”

 James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing.  He went to graduate school in mathematics to support a family.  He worked in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans.

But writing was his first love.  He has published a number of books and picked up some awards along the way.  Cleansed by Fire is the first of the Father Frank mysteries.  Murder a Cappella, also published in 2012, is another mystery which Callan wrote with one of his daughters, Diane Bailey.

Callan lives with his wife in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta.  They have four grown children and six grand children.

James’ website:

James’ My blog:  Http://

 Amazon (including Kindle) 

26 thoughts on “CLEANSED BY FIRE by James R. Callan ~ an interview

  1. I’ll say it, James, because it’s true. “Cleansed by Fire” was a good mystery. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading another of your mysteries. 🙂
    Great interview, Nike!


  2. You mentioned Father Frank’s temperment. His struggle with his anger was really my favorite part of your book. I’d love to see how this plays out over your upcoming novels. Thanks for the great work!


    1. Karen, I had a great time w/the interview. A lot of fun.

      Lesley, The premise is very interesting as it’s been a reality in Texas…the church burning.


  3. marta chausée

    This is a fascinating premise for a book– why would people burn churches? So many reasons come to mind, and I’m sure they’re all explored in Cleansed by Fire. Nice interview, Nike and James.


  4. There has still not been an arsonist caught for the church fire in Temple, Tx. First Baptist Church Temple burned January 19, 2010. They don’t think this fire was related to the churches that burned in east Tx. I was drawn to this book by the subject, saw the link on Facebook.


  5. Very nice interview! I highly recommend “Cleansed by Fire.” I was drawn into the book quickly and I never wanted to leave. Father Frank is a wonderful, memorable character.


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