The Home School Court Report had the chance to catch up with Mike Farris the other day (sure, we work in the same office, but he never sits down more than five minutes!) and talk to him about his new novel, Anonymous Tip.
CR: Why did you write Anonymous Tip?
MF: I wrote Anonymous Tip for two main reasons: One is that I believe in the power and the importance of story telling. I think that Christians and conservatives have left the story telling business for far too long to people with different philosophical views. And I thought I could create an interesting story that would convey some important points. And the second reason is that I wanted to help educate Christians and the general public on their rights as parents and on the terrible situation we have in this country with a child abuse industry that is running amok. As I was going along writing the book I realized I had the opportunity to explain a lot of other points as well: the internal workings of the Supreme Court, the basic structure of the federal court system, even directions from National Airport to Capitol Hill-people could take my book and literally use it as a guide to get from the airport to the Supreme Court.
CR: What is the premise of the story?
MR: The basic facts are: it's a single mom whose ex-husband calls in a deliberately phony child abuse allegation as an anonymous tip. When the mom stands up for her rights when the social worker appears at the door, she begins to feel the full fury of the "child savers" who don't like being crossed.
CR: Is the book pure fiction, or does it have some basis in fact?
MR: I started writing the novel on my way out to do a case for the Callebretta family in Sacramento. We have done at least a half dozen cases which are very similar to the factual predicate of this book. The law in the book is very real, the cases cited are real cases, I did make up a few statute numbers, but a lawyer who wanted to glean the legal arguments out of the story line would have a good start on legal research for doing a similar case. But no one has complained that the book is overly technical-first and foremost it remains a story.
CR: How often does this kind of situation happen to home school families?
MR: Mike Smith [the vice president of HSLDA], was just in my office today telling me of another one of these cases in California. In his states, he says he gets two of these cases every week. I think that we probably have in the range of seven to ten a month here at HSLDA that are just like this.
CR: What do you want readers to gain by reading Anonymous Tip?
MF: Well, I hope they gain something from the legal part of the book and all of that but there's more to the book than that. I have basically two story lines that create tension: One is the fight for justice against the child abuse system and the second is the relationship between Peter Barron, who's the hero, a single Christian lawyer, and his client, Gwen Landis, who is a divorced woman. Peter has a scriptural conviction against marrying a divorced woman, yet he finds himself falling in love with Gwen. From the spiritual story line, I hope that people learn the importance of sticking by their scriptural convictions even when they have attractive alternatives to do otherwise.
CR: How have people reacted to the book?
MF: Ed Meese and Beverly LaHaye and Marlin Maddox have all said some very nice things about the book, but one of the reactions I was most pleased by was from my mother-in-law, who is an excellent critic of secular novels. She genuinely loved the story and read the 550 page manuscript in about two and a half days. The other reaction that I liked best was from my secretary's mother who started reading the book one night at ten and finished at nine the next morning. I knew I had created a real page-turner when I heard that one. No one who's read the book has taken more than a week to finish.
To order Anonymous Tip, published by Broadman & Holman, use our publications insert in this Court Report. You can also buy Anonymous Tip from your local Christian bookstore.