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If A Wicked Man, John Lawson

If A Wicked Man, John Lawson

Holly Bird asks John Lawson about his book, If A Wicked Man, which tells his gripping life story.

John Lawson had a reputation among the gangs and violent men running the clubs where drugs and prostitution were rife. A mercenary of brutality and crime, he repeatedly found himself in prison... where he eventually met God and began to transform his life.

What inspired the noteworthy title of the book? 

When I was given a Bible after I’d first encountered God, I happened to read Ezekiel 18:27, which says “Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.” (NKJV). I recognised myself as a wicked man and this verse was one of the first that really spoke to me.

What prompted you to turn your story into a book?

I never originally considered writing a book, I was focused on sharing my story to reach people about Jesus. I didn’t have time to write a book, and I didn’t want to feed my ego should it be successful. I also felt that it was one thing to share my story verbally with others, but a book would be far more comprehensive and would contain certain details that I wanted to keep private.

At one point I was offered a substantial advance for the book, unheard of in the publishing industry to offer an unknown writer, but the caveat was that they wanted to play down the Christian elements. So I immediately declined. Friends were still nagging me about a book, and eventually made me realise that it had the potential to be a really positive vehicle for the Gospel. That’s what made me change my mind. I found myself handing out Bibles on a stall in the town one day and was approached by a man who had noticed that perhaps I looked a bit out of place and was wondering what a man like me was doing handing out Bibles. It turned out he was a writer and he asked to write my story. We spent the next 18 months working on it together. 

How would you say your book is well suited to reaching a non-Christian audience?

Before I was a Christian I never would have entered a church or religious bookshop. I wanted my book to go into mainstream bookshops and be something that would appeal to people who weren’t even thinking about God. So we went about creating  something that would not be identified as a “God story” or a “God book”, but a true crime story, which it is, and that is the genre under which you would find it.

If A Wicked Man is absolutely captivating from page one. Although it was clearly a brilliant idea, what made you choose to write it as a novel?

I wanted it to be a true biography of my life, but I felt that writing it as a novel took the focus off me slightly and allowed more room for Jesus to be recognised. It is likely that readers won’t necessarily even realise that they have read a “God book”, but they will have encountered the Gospel. Additionally, although artistic licence was kept to a minimum and all the events remain completely factual, there are some minor elements of the book, such as adding some bits of conversation, that are fictional in order for the story to work in the best way.

Is this the type of book that Christians can give to their non-Christian friends without feeling awkward?

That’s the idea. I know one lady that who has bought multiple copies of my book and gives them to her family and friends saying “Do you want this? It’s not for me at all, too much violence!” and they practically snatch it from her. Although this book is an evangelistic tool, there is nothing on the front or back cover to suggest it is about faith.

Is it true that the book is being made into a film?

Yes! A movie deal has been made and is now in pre-production. The next step is to begin approaching studios who will want to take it on. This excites me by creating a new opportunity and platform for evangelism that will reach more people.

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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
If A Wicked Man (Paperback)
Lawson, John; Sealey, John
Retail price: £14.99
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