Mike Force and Chris Digiuseppi started working for the Lake Saint Louis Police Department 19 years ago.
“We deal with a lot of tragedy," said Force, who has served as police chief for those 19 years. "We talked for years about being able to help people, but as police officers we’re only able to help them to some level. They’re still left with these questions. How is this right? Why did this happen? There are no good answers to that, and that weighs on you across time.”
“We talked for years,” Force said, “We said that we need to put this down, that we should write a book—we might be able to help somebody.”
Digiuseppi had written up some notes, an outline and the first draft and showed it to Force. “I kind of have something started, but we can always start all over again,” he said.
“I looked at it, and it was a good starting point,” Force said.
That idea became The Light Bringer, published by Health Communications Incorporated (HCI) books, and it’s due on bookstore shelves Friday.
The manuscript was picked up by literary agent Linda Langton from Langton’s International Agency of New York. The authors worked with her for a year and a half on edits.
“From there, in April or May of 2010, she went out to different publishers, maybe 20 or 30 different publishers—and in November of 2010, we received a contract from HCI books,” Digiuiseppi said.
HCI is the publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books.
Force looked at HCI’s website and noticed their motto: "Changing lives . . . one book at a time." “I looked at that and I said, ‘Oh, that’s perfect.” HCI’s books, Force said, are mostly inspirational and self-help.
HCI calls The Light Bringer supernatural suspense fiction. “It’s not a documentary,” Force said. "The first third of the book is a compilation . . . actually based on true stories,” Digiuseppi said. “They revolve around tragic incidents, incidents where people died. Then the story leads into an explanation of why.”
“A supernatural explanation of why,” Force said. “One of the themes is the classic struggle between good and evil that we all see in our lives.”
In a press release, HCI’s Editorial Director Michele Matrisciani said, “I chose to publish this book because now more than ever, there are questions we all have about why anything bad happens; from wartime to economic struggles, we all just want to understand our role in it all, just as Alan Crane comes to discover in this story.”
So—who is Alan Crane, the book’s protagonist?
“Neither one of us,” Force said, but added that Crane was created from some of the authors’ own experiences and values, as well as other people they had come into contact with over the years.
“We wanted to create an empathetic character, somebody who was a critical thinker, who really was a passionate person,” Digiuseppi said.
“He cares about people. He seeks to go beyond what his job is, in dealing with people,” Force said.
The Light Bringer is the first book in a trilogy. The authors have an outline and parts of the second book drafted. “I don’t think this one will go beyond a trilogy, just because of the way we’ve got it structured,” Force said. After that, they each have ideas for writing projects they want to develop, but they still plan to work together on some projects.
But they’ve appreciated being co-authors for this first book. “We went to lunch every day and went back and forth. We’d discuss where it’s going to go from here,” Force said.
“It’s an amazing amount of work before it gets published,” Digiuseppi said, “To organize marketing and things like that, you have to take a lot of that on—a website, a blog, a Facebook page. We were lucky to have two of us to share that burden.”
And just why did they decide to take on that burden? “It’s my greatest hope that this will stimulate thought,” Force said. “If people start thinking about what they do on this earth and how it impacts when they leave this earth, and just as important, if they’ve made mistakes in life, they can realize that it’s never too late. They can say, ‘I can change this, I can still walk the right path.’ Then, I think, the book is a success.”
“Beyond the supernatural fiction, the message is that there is a payoff, value for being a good person, for living your life the right way, for doing the right things, that carries with you beyond life. And that’s where the book tries to take you. It tries to get you to think, to reflect,” Digiuseppi said.
A book signing is planned at Corporate Parkway Library on July 20, and more are in the works.
Force and Digiuseppi will be celebrating their book’s release at Donatelli’s Bistro Friday.