Anyone who grew up with cannibals is bound to have some stories in him.
That's New York Times bestselling Christian author Ted Dekker. The novelist, 51, grew up as the son of missionaries living in Kangime, Indonesia, where headhunter tribes loomed.
He was sent to boarding school at the age of 6, about the time he heard that co-workers of his parents were killed and consumed. His spiritual journey began, he says, and it's one he's been on ever since.
"I was essentially abandoned. I don't blame my parents," he said. "I'm grateful. My journey took a different path, and I found myself untethered, homesick and crying every night in boarding school with strangers. I have vivid memories of asking 'who am I,' and 'what is my place? How do I find significance? Does anybody love me?'"
Released last month, Dekker's new thriller, "Outlaw," touches on his childhood. It's the story of a woman who is lost at sea with her 2-year old son, and forced into slavery by the savage tribe that rescues her. Decker will host a talk, video presentation and book signing at Woodmen Valley Chapel on Friday.
"She gets taken to a dark place and relates her journey out of darkness," Dekker said. "Her world is turned on its end. It's horrifying, yet we also fall in love with the people who take her captive, and we see how normal they are and how beautiful they are. Her perspective gets challenged. All of life is perspective."
Dekker lived in Colorado Springs in the early 1990s, where he bought and sold several companies, he said. The city also became home base for his first foray into fiction writing, as he wrote and rewrote his novels at night, compelled by an urge to put his stories down on paper.
"I wrote about a million words before I was published," he said. "And even then, after getting published, you don't know if anybody's going to buy it."
Clearly, his work resonated with people. Since then, he's written more than 30 novels in the genres of thriller, suspense, mystery and fantasy.
"My writing has always been very authentic," he said. "I'm writing to explore something I'm struggling with. My readers indentify with those themes.
"I'll write about serial killers. Or somebody who has multiple personality disorder. My thrillers are very edgy. For me, they're fascinating concepts and characters in these twisting plots through which I explore my theme. My books are very philosophical in that respect."
He asks big questions about faith, God and identity, he said. This has earned the Christian writer classification, though he doesn't sound so sure of that pigeonholing.
"It's hard to believe we're just a body," he said. "Even atheists secretly suspect (that we're more). It's not a matter of believing in God. They (atheists) tend to be people who reject our idea of God, and say there is no God. But that takes a tremendous amount of faith to believe that. I was an atheist for a while. I'm not religious at all. It gets in the way of any spiritual journey."
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8
Where: Woodmen Valley Chapel, 290 E. Woodmen Road
Tickets: Free; 388-5000, woodmenvalley.org, teddekker.com
Contact Jennifer Mulson at 636-0270.