He has published more than 20 books, including Morality Stories (with Joy Pollock and Scott Braswell), Justice, Crime and Ethics (with Bernard and Belinda McCarthy) and the novel Long Road Home (with Richard Zevitz). His writing explores issues of peacemaking and justice, as well as the spiritual journey.
A former prison psychologist, Braswell also has four degrees in psychology and counseling from Mercer University, the University of Georgia, West Georgia College and a doctorate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has taught criminal justice ethics and human relations for more than 30 years and is currently Professor Emeritus at East Tennessee State University.
Married for more than 40 years, he and his wife, Susan, work together as publishing consultants and are active in their Baptist church.
What inspired you to write your first book?
What inspired me to write Interview with Joab was my interest in a kind of “rest of the story” aspect to a number of traditional Bible stories. For example, I could empathize a bit with the sibling rivalry experienced by Joseph’s brothers and how such a theme plays out in today’s families. And of course, Joab was, in some ways, King David’s chief enabler, as well as his chief military commander. He cleaned up after David on a number of occasions and settled more than a few scores of his own while he was at it. I wondered what David’s reign might look like through Joab’s eyes as he awaited his own end. And then, there was the Adulteress. What would she say to her daughter 10 years later, looking back on the day Jesus spared her life and gave her a second chance.
Tell us about your book – who are the main characters, what is the theme, how does it relate to readers?
The characters are taken from well-known Bible stories—Esau, the prodigal son, Peter, Judas, Pilate’s wife, Paul and others. I have tried to make some of the stories’ themes, such as sibling rivalry, marital difficulties, rebellious youth, personal betrayal and so forth, relevant in a fresh way to today’s Christians.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have been writing and publishing for the last 40 years on themes such as ethics, human relations, peacemaking and the spiritual journey. I am currently working on two short story collections and a book on the spiritual journey. I enjoy writing what I’m interested in. Sometimes I start out writing something and it ends up writing me.
Tell us how you merge your faith and the craft of writing.
As a university teacher and a writer, I was told on occasion that one couldn’t address faith issues in a secular university. I feel like I found a way to do that without proselytizing by teaching faith values through ethics, compassion, social and restorative justice, and peacemaking. Writing allows me to tell stories and explore ideas that both challenge and encourage readers to look deeper within themselves as they travel through their own spiritual journey.
What is your favorite motivational phrase or Scripture?
Lately, I have found myself repeating, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God. Renew within me a rig ht spirit,” from Psalms. For the present, I feel like the Holy Spirit is letting me know that is the scripture I need to be particularly mindful of.
Where do you see publishing going in the future? Do you see new or changing trends for Christian writers and publishers and readers?
With the changes in publishing technology, I believe there will be more opportunities for writers, publishers, and readers than ever.
What are you working on now? When might we see your next book?
I’m currently putting together a short story collection that deals with suffering and redemption and a non-fiction book on the spiritual journey, as well as several more academic books on ethics and human relations.