Let’s welcome veteran police officer and inspirational novelist Janice Cantore to today’s blog. Janice’s fiction is known for its engaging and realistic characterizations of police work along with action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Today Janice will share some experiences from her extensive police background and how these events have shaped her views on God, hope, and how to pen truly inspirational stories. (And don’t miss out on her great giveaway! More info below.)
Years ago, when I was working my way through college, I had a job as an athletic trainer in a health club. One day I was helping a woman with a machine. She wasn’t much older than me—I was in my twenties and she was maybe early thirties. I’m not certain how we got on the subject—maybe I told her I was thinking about a career in law enforcement—but however we got there, all of a sudden she blurted out, “My mother was raped and murdered in her home. I don’t understand it. She never hurt a soul in her life.” The expression on her face hit almost as hard as the words; it was a cross between trying to be unemotional while at the same time being torn apart by emotions.
I remember thinking to myself, How do you get over a tragedy like that?
Fast-forward a few years. I was working as a uniformed police officer, mostly on the graveyard shift (10 p.m. to 8 a.m.), when one night my partner and I were sent to investigate a no-detail traffic accident. That meant someone called 911 to say they’d heard a crash but hadn’t looked out the window to see what caused it. No-details could be nothing or huge messes. It was after midnight and the streets were quiet. We made it quickly to the intersection and found a single-car accident. It appeared as though the vehicle had veered out of the lane into the median and had struck a tree, hard. There were no skid marks and no indication of any other involved vehicles
We approached the car and found three occupants, all unconscious: a woman behind the steering wheel, a man in the backseat, and a baby in the passenger seat in a backward-facing car seat. There was nothing we could do—the impact had tweaked the frame and made it impossible to open the car doors. We relayed the information to the fire department and waited. The man began to moan, but what bothered me was the baby. He was quiet. Shouldn’t he be crying?
The fire department arrived in a few minutes and took out the tools necessary to get the doors open. They had the same concern about the baby I did and retrieved him first. By their faces I could tell it was bad. Paramedics took the kid while firefighters went to work trying to cut the woman out. Prying her from the car took about thirty minutes, and in that time the nine-month-old boy made it to the hospital and died.
Mom had fallen asleep at the wheel. How do you get over a tragedy like that?
I could write a book about the tragic events I saw while on the job. The vast majority of the time, I never saw the “after” picture—the picture taken after the parties involved recovered, moved on, healed. But for some reason, about a year later, I was reading the local paper. There was a religion column back then, and as I read it, I realized this was the “after” picture from that accident. The person being interviewed was the driver, the mom, who’d lost her firstborn son that night. She talked about the physical scars—her left leg had been hamburger; it was smashed into the door and frame of the car—and the emotional scars—she’d lost her baby son and nearly destroyed her marriage. Her husband was the man who had been in the backseat.
Through the hurt and the pain, the one thread that held her together and kept her marriage from exploding was her belief in a Savior and the promise that God works all things out for good for believers. The road to healing and peace was hard and long, but she could honestly say that she and her husband and their marriage were stronger now. Life is hard, but God is good.
That is a theme that sticks with me and something I want to come across in my books. This past weekend I took part in a panel on inspirational fiction, hope, and faith. All of the panelists agreed that writing inspirational stories means leaving the reader with hope. No matter what tragedy we endure in this life, there is a God who heals and restores. Whenever I remember the woman in the gym, I always pray that somehow she has found this hope.
Thanks, Janice, for sharing those incredibly moving stories with us. Though it may be hard to see at the time, God still remains, even through our darkest moments, and he often uses our suffering as a vehicle for magnificent things.
Interested in Janice’s novels? The last installment in her Pacific Coast Justice series, Avenged, is available now in bookstores and online.
And for a limited time, enter to win a chance at this great police themed giveaway. Prize includes:
Accused (Book #1 in The Pacific Coast Justice series)
Abducted (Book #2 in The Pacific Coast Justice series)
DVD of Courageous
A CD by Chris Tomlin – Burning Lights
LA County Coroner mug
A Trust in the Lord encouragement plaque
And some handy magnetic page markers
For more information on Janice and her writing, she can be found online:
At her website:
At her blog:
Thanks for reading!