Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lost Mission / contest / interview

Author: Athol Dickson
Publisher: Howard Books
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8347-9
Genre: Inspirational/ suspense

Back in the eighteenth century, a Spanish mission collapses to the ground on top of supernatural evidence of shocking crime. Twelve generations later, the ground is opened up, forgotten ruins are disturbed, and suddenly everyone is caught in an onslaught of resurging hell on earth.

Some of those caught in this catastrophe are:

 A humble shopkeeper who is compelled to leave her tiny village deep in Mexico to preach in America
 A minister wracked with guilt for loving the wrong woman
 An unimaginably wealthy man, blinded to the consequences of his grand plans
 A devoted father and husband driven to a horrible discovery that changes everything

Will the evil that destroyed the Mision de Santa Dolores rise to overwhelm them? Or will they beat back the terrible desires that led to the mission’s good Franciscan founder’s standing in the midst of flames ignited by his enemies and friends alike more than two centuries ago?

From the high Sierra Madre mountains to the harsh Sonoran desert, from the privileged world of millionaire moguls to the impoverished immigrants who serve them, Athol Dickson once again weaves a gripping story of suspense that spans centuries and cultures to explore the abiding possibility of miracles.

***Laura says*** I’ve looked forward to reading LOST MISSION since I heard it was coming out. A long time fan of his first book, River Rising, I figured that this would be an author to watch. I am right. Athol Dickson has an unmatched talent. Written in a more distant omniscient point of view, I didn’t really connect with the characters as well as I would have liked. I also found the jumps in historical time periods to more contemporary times rather disconcerting.

Descriptively, Mr. Dickson is very talented. I could envision the setting, feel the flames, hear the crowd, and see the people. Completely unlike River Rising, LOST MISSION is still a book that took an extraordinary amount of talent to produce and I have to applaud the author’s imagination. Bravo! $14.99. 345 pages.

About the author:
Athol Dickson is an award-winning author of several novels. His Christy Award-winning novel River Rising was name one of the "Top Ten Christian Novel of 2006" by Booklist magazine. He lives in California with his wife. Find out more about Athol and his books by visiting his website.



Tweet this and be entered to win signed copies of Athol’s award winning books:

Tweet 4 words that describe Athol Dickson’s #LostMission along with this link:


Athol Dickson’s redemptive tale #LostMission is a MUST read! Gripping story about mistakes and miracles!

(To be clear – to be entered into the contest your tweet must have these 2 elements 1. Athol Dickson’s #LostMission 2. this link:

Blog Tour:

What are you working on now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a new suspense story filled with magical realism, about a well-respected pastor and his five-year-old adopted son who are separated when an insane man kidnaps the boy and frames the father for his disappearance. After ten years, the boy escapes and sets out in search of his father. At the same time, the father has mistaken another boy for his long lost son. The boy is in a coma. When his biological father wants to take him off of life support, the father risks prison to save the boy’s life by kidnapping him which only serves to reinforce the perception that he was guilty of the first kidnapping. Meanwhile, his real son is out there, trying to get home.

The book explores what it means to love as God loves, and what it costs to accept God’s love. My publisher and I haven’t arrived at a title for this one yet.

What are some of your hobbies, besides writing?

I’ve been a boater most of my life. When I was five or six I drove a relative’s boat on an Oklahoma lake and got hooked. When I was a little older a friend and I took a big piece of styrofoam on a trip up a local creek and about three blocks into a storm drain. That escapade made it into my first novel. My wife and I have owned everything from a tired old ski boat to a fifty foot power yacht. We sold our house and cars and moved aboard that yacht and cruised the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast of the USA for about a year, which was incredible. Right now we have a bay boat in our garage and a thirty-three foot powerboat at a local marina, which we cruise to Catalina Island now and then.

Who are your favorite authors?

I love far too many different authors’ work to narrow it down to just a few favorites. Right now I’m re-reading Dickens’ Great Expectations, which is just an amazing novel and deserves to be read at least three times in a lifetime. Before that it was Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, which was a difficult read because of its intensity, but remarkable for its characterization. Both of those novels illustrate how you can deal with spiritual themes in a powerful way without becoming didactic. One of the finest Christian fiction novels I’ve read lately is Saints in Limbo, by River Jordan.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I read everything with pretty much equal pleasure. Fantasy, westerns, mystery, suspense, general fiction, the classics . . . you name it. I even read some romance, although mainly the old stuff, like Daphne du Maurier. And Christian fiction, of course.

What sparked the idea for your last story?

My most recent novel, which just came out in September, is Lost Mission. It’s about Lupe de la Garza, a simple shopkeeper in a mountain village in Mexico, who believes God wants her to go to America to preach the gospel. She is guided on her quest by her people’s greatest treasure: an altarpiece painted by an eighteenth century Franciscan friar who founded her village after fleeing the mysterious destruction of his California mission outpost. When Lupe is distracted by desire for a young minister, and when her preaching in a southern California beach town inspires only apathy and laughter, she begins to lose faith in her mission. Then a slumbering evil that destroyed the friar’s Franciscan mission rises up again after two hundred years, and Lupe once more looks to the altarpiece for guidance, only to find the true purpose of her quest in the midst of her single greatest fear.

Lost Mission combines two storylines: the modern life of the remarkable Lupe and those whom she encounters, and a historical tale of the founding and destruction of a Franciscan mission in what is now called southern California. The story involves not only a poor Mexican who comes to America to try to save our souls, but also a modern day Robin Hood who steals from rich Christians to give to the poor, and a grieving billionaire who would rather build a community of monastic isolation exclusively for Christians than face a fallen world. Woven through all of this is an underlying sense of doom, as we begin to see eerie connections between what these people do, and what destroyed the original Franciscan mission in the same location more than two hundred years before. All of it is set in beautiful surroundings, where hummingbirds shoot like little rockets among cascades of crimson bougainvillea and the constant trickle of Spanish fountains.

The idea began to come to me a few years ago when I learned South Korea sends more evangelical missionaries than any other country except the USA, but less than thirty years ago there were only 93 South Korean missionaries in the entire world. I also learned the USA doesn’t rank in the top ten nations in terms of missionaries sent per congregation. I ran across all this information shortly after Gene Robinson was elected by the Episcopalian church as their first openly homosexual bishop and other bishops from Africa and Latin America offered to let Episcopal parishes disassociate themselves from Robinson’s diocese and join theirs.

So we now have a situation where an Asian nation is sending more missionaries per congregation than the USA, and for the first time in history, Protestant churches in America were under the authority of Christians in Africa and Latin America. It’s a remarkable reversal for the church in America. Christians from other continents no longer view us as a source of Christian thought and support, but see us rather as a people in tragic decline with a dire need for the Gospel. And from all indications, they’re right. I decided to write a novel about how this happened.

A little later, I became involved in a discussion with some members of the “seeker friendly” movement, the emerging church movement, and more traditional evangelicals about how to “do church.” The discussion surprised me, not because of what was said, but because of how everybody said it. The brothers did not approach each other in love, but with agendas. It wasn’t really a conversation, where people talk and listen. It was more like everybody gave speeches to each other. Eventually, they started questioning each other’s motives, and then some of them even sunk into name calling. These were supposed to be men of God, but they seemed much more interested in their arguments than in each other. I realized all these Christians who believed they were so different because of their theological positions, were in fact all sinning against each other in exactly the same ways. It seemed like a great way to enter into the underlying reasons for the decline of Christianity in America.

Then one day I visited the Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano and learned about the history of the missions in California. It seemed to me that many of the same mistakes the modern church is making in the USA had already been made centuries before, by the Franciscans who settled in California. That provided the structure I was looking for, so I started work on Lost Mission.

Who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve always had a strong creative drive. Like many children, when I was young I drew all the time. I just never stopped. My mother was an artist, and she supported it. My parents sent me to private art classes and I took all the available art courses in public school growing up. Then I went to study art at a university. Eventually my interest shifted to architecture, which was still a creative outlet, just one that had a half a chance of supporting me. I became an architect, founded a firm and ran it for about 15 years. I ended up with 20 to 25 employees, which was a trap. It meant I couldn’t do the creative stuff anymore. I had to delegate that, and focus on sales and marketing and running the business. Boring! So one day I was griping about it, and my wife suggested I do something creative in my spare time. I chose writing because I love to read, and because it seemed like spending all day in a profession that involves so much drawing, then going home to paint would be too much. I started my first novel with a pen and paper. My wife bought me my first notebook computer, it had a little 286 processor, if you’re old enough to remember them, and the rest is history, as they say.

What is your favorite verse, and why?

That’s a tough one, but rather than pick one verse, I think I’d have to go with Romans 7:15 through 8:4. That’s the famous place where Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And he says, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me . . . . What a wretched man I am!” That’s exactly how I feel so often as a Christian. I really want to live the kind of life Jesus lived, but I just don’t have it in me. As the bumper sticker says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just saved.” And I love it that Paul goes on to talk about the way to live in spite of weakness when he says, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I may be powerless to be the man I want to be, but I can always call on Jesus to rescue me, and He will. Paul then goes on to what must surely be the greatest promise in the Bible, when he says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Every time I read those words I feel a huge relief.

How can reading your book have an impact on the reader’s life?

I already described the way so many Christians argue about their differences and end up looking just alike in their sins. Lost Mission explores how a good person can end up in that place, so in that sense you might call it an object lesson. The novel also explores the way back. It helps us see that this is an ancient problem, which has confronted every generation. It’s far bigger than you or me, and only one thing can stand against it, which is of course the love of Jesus Christ. But that love is not portrayed in an easy way in Lost Mission. It comes at a cost. Jesus promised us a cross to bear, and we must pick it up. Paradoxically, it’s only as we struggle underneath our cross that we find peace. All these ideas are in Lost Mission.

How did you become a Christian?

I’m not sure. It might have been when I was a boy and “walked the aisle” in church at a revival, but I didn’t live like much of a Christian after that, so I sometimes think it was ten or twelve years later when I was at the end of my rope and turned back to the Lord. Since that time, I’ve seen a slow but steady change in myself, which indicates the Lord has been at work within my life.

How has your book been received from its readers?

Lost Mission has only been out a short while, but so far all the reader reviews on are five stars. I think readers enjoy my novels in part because they’re so hard to define. Nobody writes quite the way I do. Lost Mission is not a classic suspense story, but I guarantee it will keep a reader turning those pages. It’s not a romance, but two of the main characters are driven into impossible circumstances by forbidden love. It’s not fantasy, but many of the events are mysterious and miraculous. And it’s not exactly literature, although the critics so far are saying things like, “Lost Mission is redemptive storytelling at its highest level . . . ” (Jake Chism, I think most readers will find Lost Mission is a story about mistakes and miracles, taken directly from the headlines of our time, and the history of times long past.

Can you tell us a little bit about your personal life?

I’ve been married for twenty-five years to a woman I adore. We don’t have any children, which I sometimes regret, but not so much anymore. We’re members of a little church, only about 300 members, whom we love. I do volunteer work at a local homeless shelter. My wife works very hard to support my writing habit. We go boating two or three times a month, and try to get to the beach every now and then because we live close to the ocean in southern California.

What is your current ring tone?

Just a regular one, I guess. I’m not a geeky kind of guy. My wife is the one who’s into all that. Her phone doesn’t ring; it bongs.

What is your favorite vending machine item?

Coke, I guess. Or Pepsi. Cola, anyway. I know it’s bad for me, but what can I say? It’s a guilty pleasure.

What is your earliest memory?

It’s hard to tell which of the oldest ones came first. One of them has to be the time my mother told me it was okay for me to start going to the bathroom without telling her. What a concept that was! It was like a whole new world of freewill and volition had opened up before me. Ha!

What is your biggest fear?

Losing my wife. I hope I die first. But then I worry that she’ll be sad, so I think maybe she should go first. I’ve often asked the Lord to take us both together. Then I try to lay that fear aside, because the Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)

How can our readers purchase your book?

The easiest way is online through or or Here are the links:

Thank you, LitFuse, for providing a copy of Lost Mission for me to review.


Rel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rel said...

Fabulous interview, Athol and Laura :) Thanks for taking the time to give such detailed answers. I am a third of the way into the book now and looking forward to how things pan out.


PS. The deleted comment was due to my poor spelling ;-)