Cameron Fitzgerald is the author of debut novel The Printed, as well as a pastor and playwright. He kindly agreed to an interview.
Questions about the text delve very lightly into plot line. While I wouldn’t say there are specific spoilers, there is some very general discussion of content.
One thing I learned, through the interview, is that Cameron is a Seventh Day Adventist. While I do not know enough about the Advent tradition to compare and contrast possible differences in beliefs with my own, I can say that the Lord used Cameron’s book, The Printed, to minister truth and encouragement to me. (Click here to see my review of the book).
Relationship with God is at the core of The Printed. Can you please share a little bit about your personal walk with the Lord? How have you experienced Him drawing you to Himself? Do you recall a specific “turning point” in your life?
My greatest responsibility and my greatest joy in life is telling people who they are in Jesus. I grew up in a pastor’s home and had been blessed by my church community early in my life. Like any human, I had a journey with my faith that was tested. Seasons of trial in my life are what inspired me to write stories that illustrate the character of God amidst trial.
There wasn’t a distinct “turning point” in my life, but rather a series of moments where I was reminded both of my need for a Savior, and of His power to save.
As someone who reads a lot, I have found that the Lord frequently speaks to me through story. Is there a specific medium the Lord often uses to speak to you?
I’m a pastor and a worship leader, so the Lord speaks to me powerfully through reading His Word and in musical worship. However, in the past six or seven years I began writing plays for Christian summer camps and I found that even though God speaks to me in obvious ways through Scripture and worship, my best way of communicating the Gospel to others is through story.
What is one attribute (or Name) of God that is especially meaningful to you?
God as Father is the name that has been especially meaningful to me. The book is a prime example of that fact as He is rarely referenced as anything else. It speaks to the fact that not only does he have fatherly characteristics, but to Him I am, son.
Just for fun
If you could go on a picnic with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Gandalf the White. Jolly, wise, and humorous. We would eat cheese, light fireworks, and talk about deep, but meaningless topics.
Who were your favorite authors to read, as a child? Who do you like to read, now?
My favorite authors growing up were a very mixed group. David Eddings was my favorite, and I have always marveled at his ability to craft characters. Ted Dekker was another that I loved growing up. Michael J. Sullivan likely rounds out the list as he has a Tolkien-like ability to create both beautiful and terrible worlds that leave you in wonder.
Which authors/ works, if any, inspired your writing of The Printed? Are there any specific moments in the story that hearken back to existing works of literature?
I have studied in depth the science of microexpressions, which translated keenly into The Printed. the way I communicate internal character dialogue likely was unconsciously derived from a mixture of David Eddings and Andrew Klavin.
How does your role as a pastor “intersect” with your role as a writer?
I never expected writing to be a part of my ministry outside of plays. I’ve been focused on my pastoral ministry since I started, and have found that pastors have a unique advantage when it comes to knowing the current needs of the church.
I see that you have a background as a playwright. How did you enter this field?
I became programming director at a Christian summer camp and couldn’t find any good plays to use for my programming. I decided to write one for the theme, and thoroughly enjoyed it. From that summer on, I have written more and more for other camps to be able to use episodically throughout their weeks.
Is The Printed based on one of your plays?
Yes. The Printed was play one of a three-year story that was written and sold to begin in the summer of 2020. After most of the summer camps that purchased the series cancelled their camps for the summer, I decided to turn it into a book.
Between your plays and your novel, are there any themes that you “keep coming back to?”
Identity. Always Identity in Jesus.
There are some evident parallels between the dystopic world of The State and the society in which we live. Is The State intended as a metaphor for today’s world, or a depiction of a potential reality?
A mixture of both. Western society is leaving behind it’s Judeo/Christian roots in favor of postmodernism and materialism at a rate that is staggering. The State is a metaphor for today’s world in small part to how it is, but more to where we are headed in western society. Brainwashing that is called rehabilitation, censorship, and religious persecution are all realities now but it seems the storm is only to get worse from here on out.
Were there any specific verses/ themes that the Lord put on your heart, that you wanted to convey in the writing of this book?
1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,”
Luke 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Your characters live in a society where it is “illegal” to live out their faith. How do their circumstances inform their walks with the Lord?
I’m not sure that their circumstances inform their walks with the Lord. I think their circumstances necessitate conviction within their walks with God. Often in life, we sit where things are comfortable and non-confrontational for as long as we can until something pushes us over the line into making a choice. The State’s laws require believers to have conviction in their beliefs. A gift that is often unwanted, but a gift indeed.
The State sanctions a form of religion that clearly differs from the characters’ actual expressions of faith. Why is this an important distinction?
Anything that has authority, metaphysically based or not, can be a basis for religion. The State props itself up as the salvific figure to its people by creating a sense of security and providing almost everything the people could need. In the end the price is that there isn’t room for any other allegiances.
One of my favorite things about The Printed is the simplicity with which the characters call out to the Father for salvation. I really like that, although we definitely see a moment of transformation for the characters, it is not based on the “sinner’s prayer.” Can you please describe the Scriptural precedent for this, and why you chose to portray salvation in this way?
Isaiah 44:22 says, “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Hebrews 9 echoes this fact. Many stories get caught up in the “quality” of repentance of characters, but in reality the words spoken aren’t anything like them. You don’t repent so that you can have Redemption. You repent because you’ve been Redeemed!
Based on the cover of this book, it appears to be a standalone. However, I think that the ending of the book could lend to additional novels. Is this a standalone, or are there further works to come?
Just as the play was written as the first of three, The Printed was as well. The second book in the series will likely come out in 2022 and the next in 2023.
The book is published by the Noble Initiative. Can you please tell me a bit about this organization and its mission?
The Noble Initiative is an organization of young Adventist writers from different backgrounds that are committed to investigating what it means to be Noble in our world today. We look beyond the negative connotations of the word “Noble” that were consequences of the Dark Ages and encourage others through writing and preaching to live in the identity that was spoken over them by their Creator and Savior. To live as princes and princesses of heaven. Not with exclusion, but with the mission of telling others that they have access to the very same Father.
The Printed is now on-sale!