Dale P. Rhodes, Sr. was born in central Virginia and still lives there today. He wrote poetry and short stories in high school. After graduation life became centered around work, bills and parenthood and writing was pushed to the back burner.
The death of Dale’s father stirred his pen to life again. Dale’s first book, Daddy’s Apple Tree is a tribute to his father, mother and many of the moments that shaped his life.
For the majority of the summer of 2014 Dale had a strong impression that he should write a story about a guardian angel. After days of prayer he was overwhelmed with a story that came faster than he could write it down. If Only is the culmination of that experience, a story of a guardian angel who feels like he has failed mankind and the trials that have shaped him for hundreds of years.
Dale’s third book, entitled Next Summer is the story of an epic friendship between two boys that lead their senior class on the trip of a lifetime. From five years old to graduation these boys create a bond with everyone they come in contact with. It was inspired by a co-worker who is so friendly that he has seemingly never met a stranger.
Dale loves his wife and their four grown children. He also loves movies, music, sports and doing projects around the house. His rescue dogs and cats are his babies now. Dale loves photography and occasionally does weddings. He also loves to sings special music solos at church. Dale continues to write and hopes to have his fourth and fifth books coming to fruition in the near future.
Now, to the interview–
Q: What was the inspiration behind the book, “If Only?”
A: My wife, Phyllis, is a big reader and had gotten me interested in many of the books and series that she was reading back in 2013 and 2014. I read series like Divergent, Maze Runner and really enjoyed them and of course saw the Divergent and Maze Runner movies. One day I discussed with my wife how I wished I could find a Christian based series I could get excited about and there was instantly an impression that came over me that seemed to say. “If you want to see a Christian based book series that you can be excited about, then maybe you should write one.” Now I had already published my book Daddy’s Apple Tree and sort of had a bad experience with the whole thing so I dismissed this quickly. Well, this “impression” would not leave me alone. For about three months this kept coming to me until I finally, at the suggestion of my wife, began to ask the Lord if this was something He wanted me to do. I told Him that I didn’t really want to, or know how to, but that if He wanted me to I would if He would give me the story. Once I prayed, the story flooded my mind faster than I could write.
Q: What is the overall message you want to get across to the readers with this story?
A: My message with this story is two-fold. To the Christian, many of us feel inadequate for the task of being a good witness to the world of Christ’s love. We don’t always need the grand gesture or the world changing event to be a success. We simply need to be genuine and ready for a moment to show love and compassion and yes sometimes scripture. To the non-Christian, I just want to let them know that God loves you and is ready at any moment to be there for you.
Q: How did you come up with the title, If Only?
A: In the story we follow the guardian angel Thaniel who suffers one defeat after another and I imagine him thinking about humans and wishing that he could bring everyone to God and crying out to himself that we could be close to God if only we would choose to be.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get past it? If not, how would you?
A: Funny you should ask, as I am currently struggling in the story I am working on. During the writing of “If Only” I did have a couple of times when I experienced some writer’s block. I kept reminding myself how the story came to me in the first place. I also remember how my father would tell me of how he would struggle over something he was working on and not be able to figure out and that during the night the answers would come to him in his sleep. So I prayed and went to bed and found that in the morning the Lord had opened a new chapter of the book up to me.
Q: When you began writing, did you intend to become an author or did it start out as a creative outlet? Tell us about how you got started.
A: Back in school my English teachers would always encourage free writing. We were told that nothing was ever wrong it simply needed to come from us. Back then I wrote short stories and poetry. When my father became diagnosed with dementia and I began to notice the effects, it really frustrated me and I needed a way to let it out. So I began to write again. My family loved it then and suggested that I publish a book and here we are.
Q: Is there a certain book or author that has inspired you in your journey as a writer?
A: It’s difficult to name just one however I have always loved Edgar Allen Poe. The Raven has always been a favorite. Honestly, song writers have probably inspired me more than book writers though. I love well written songs.
Q: What inspired you to begin writing Christian Fiction in particular?
A: While I had read many books during the time just before writing “If Only”, I wished that at least some of them would have some Christian influence. I want the stories that I write to point the reader to God. I don’t want to bang them in the head with the Bible because most Christian’s lives aren’t like that anyway. We work and play and struggle through life just like folks who don’t believe in God. It’s when we find ourselves holding tight to Him, that we begin to look past the mountains in our lives and find ourselves on the other side of them. I want my readers to see that and know that we are all the same. Christ loves us all and died for us all. I just imagine Him waiting for us to turn around and run to Him.
Q: Are there any characters or themes that you have written about that you would like to revisit in future projects?
A: I have always been intrigued by angels and I would love for the Lord to reveal another story for me about them. It came so easy for me during the writing of “If Only”. I just don’t want to force anything. I’ll know when it’s right.
Q: Speaking of the future, what projects can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on anything new?
A: I am currently working on the third book in the City On A Hill series. The focus of the new story is more on Pastor Richards and the struggles of his position. That’s all I can give you right now.
Q: Before we go, one last question. Any thoughts or advice for our readers?
A: I think reading is a great escape from daily life and writing can also be. If you love to read why not write also. It never has to be for anyone but yourself, but you never know, you may create something that can be a blessing to others and wouldn’t that be wonderful.