Frank McKinney is a true Renaissance man: a five-time bestselling author (in 4 genres), real estate “artist” (creates multi-million dollar oceanfront homes on speculation on the sun-drenched canvas of the Atlantic), actor, ultramarathoner, speaker.
The mediagenic author has been featured in countless TV & print articles, including Oprah (twice), 20/20, and the cover of USA Today.
A “philanthro-capitalist,” Frank has made an enormous humanitarian impact in Haiti through his Caring House Project, where he has created 27 self-sufficient villages in 24 cities in the last 16 years, impacting the lives of 11,000+ children and their families.
KIMBERLY: Welcome everybody, welcome to Spiritual Biz Chat for Spiritual Biz Magazine, I am your host, Kimberly Maska, and today we have joining us Frank McKinney, a five-time bestselling author, real estate “artist”, actor, ultramarathoner, speaker, introducing his new a heart-wrenching novel, The Other Thief: A Collision of Love, Flesh and Faith, which officially launches on September 18th, 2018. Welcome, Frank, and thank you for being with us, how are you doing today?
FRANK: Well, I’m joining you from my oceanfront Treehouse office in Delray Beach, Florida. It’s where I wrote The Other Thief, and my 5 other books. It sits 25’ above the Atlantic and has a spectacular ocean view out of 12 windows. It also has a shower, bathroom, sink, air-conditioning, hardwood floors, cedar walls, bamboo desk, loft with a king size bed, and a suspension bridge that connects to the master bedroom of our main house – all in a tiny 180 square feet! My wife Nilsa wouldn’t allow a stove or microwave because she said I’d never come home! I’m a firm believer in finding a space that draws out your creativity and ingenuity. I found mine!
KIMBERLY: Frank, you are a successful entrepreneur with many titles. Could you share the story behind your personal journey down the path to your current life’s purpose and work?
FRANK: On the first night when I arrived in Florida from Indiana as an 18-year-old without the hope of education beyond graduating high school with a 1.8 GPA, I slept under a pier because I didn’t have a place to stay. I chose the soft sand under the pier over the hard concrete of sleeping under a bridge. The next day I began work as a golf course maintenance worker, waking at 4 am to take a taxi from the pier to meet my coworkers. I was scared to death, and when I arrived I realized I was the only white person who would be working on that Deerfield Beach golf course. I worked amongst Haitians and quickly earned the nickname “the white Haitian” because of my strong work ethic. I may believe in the welfare system, but I don’t believe in an entitlement mentality. I’ve never been afraid to work hard.
Fast forward to today, where, through our Caring House Project Foundation (CHPF.org), we’ve built 28 self-sufficient villages in 25 Haitian cities over the last 16 years. We’ve provided a self-sustaining existence to 12,000+ children and their families who were living in mud or tin shacks covered in palm fronds for a roof with rodents the size of cats running across their dirt floors. Our Haiti villages contain 40-50 brightly pastel colored concrete homes for families of eight, a community center that houses a school, church and clinic, clean drinking water, renewable food and some form of free enterprise so the village can be self-reliant. In addition, we provide meals in our schools and orphanages (2 part protein, 1 part carbohydrate). Knowing that for each copy of The Other Thief we sell we’ll be able to provide nearly 200 meals to the hungry children in our Haiti villages and orphanages made me anticipate the 70,000 words I would write with joy and purpose. As I was writing I often thought back to my Haitian coworkers on that golf course, and the deep love I still have for them and the place they came from.
KIMBERLY: Let’s talk a bit about the novel you have written, The Other Thief: A Collision of Love, Flesh and Faith. For those who may be skeptical, could you elaborate on your choice of such evocative title and cover?
FRANK: If you look closely, Jesus is in the foreground to the right. A modern-day version of one of the two thieves who was crucified with Jesus, the other thief, is in the background. This other thief has more than one of the seven deadly sins at his feet, attempting to keep him from redemption, from the mercy offered by Christ. He is staring longingly, painfully, and hopefully toward Christ as he prepares to ask for forgiveness by addressing Him by name; “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The cover was created by the same graphic artist who did work on Passion of the Christ.
KIMBERLY: Although the sex scenes and some language may not be perceived as explicit, The Other Thief will be considered highly controversial by many. Is there a place for “edgy” Christian romance?
FRANK: Christian romance is not about a couple who packs a picnic lunch and goes to the park or the beach, lays out a blanket and maybe holds hands while watching the sunset. My portrayal of Christian romance is about the love and struggles associated with everyday life, not those found on the Hallmark Channel. Publisher’s Weekly recently wrote: “Christian fiction is not dying, but it’s changing, publishers say. As part of a recent trend, Christian fiction continues to address contemporary issues, and the result is what some publishers describe as edgier content. Frank McKinney addresses issues related to special needs parenting, marriage, faith, and more in The Other Thief (HCI, Sept.), which will have a 10,000-copy initial printing.”
KIMBERLY: You use intense scenes mixed with scripture in the novel. How far is too far for you? Why push the limits?
FRANK: While delivering a beautiful message of hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness and above all, LOVE, to a world in desperate need of hearing one, on a limited number of pages, The Other Thief portrays the evil of the seven deadly sins in a very graphic manner. Sin is never pretty, yet always graphic. You’ll discover the ride, like your favorite roller coaster, is scary and mercurial, yet exhilarating. We know neither the nature nor extent of the sin of the other thief on the cross who was crucified with Jesus, yet it’s safe to assume it was far worse than stealing a candy bar from the 7-11 in Jerusalem. What we do know is that the other thief asked for and received forgiveness just before he too was put to death on a cross.
“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise,” said Jesus to the thief. I believe the unfolding of this story, as told in Luke 23:33-43, is the single greatest showing of love in the entire Bible, and that passage is what influenced me to write The Other Thief. So, I must warn you, if the book were to carry a warning it might read like that below. It’s the hopeful message I’ll be sharing as I tour The Other Thief across the country, not any of the graphic scenes where sin reveals its debilitating and evil effects.
KIMBERLY: Besides launching the new book and managing other projects, you are also involved in philanthropic work including your “7Deadly Sins/7 Heavenly Virtues” Cross-Country Book Tour to visit and donate to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, and churches. Are there any humanitarian projects in the works, relating to your “The Other Thief” book sale?
FRANK: I’ve done numerous book tours, yet this one will be different. It will visit the places you reference above (not just bookstores and TV/radio stations) and deliver The Other Thief ’s message of hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, redemption and above all love to those who desperately need to hear it. Not only will we donate to each shelter or soup kitchen, but we will also be delivering gift cards for food and clothing to many of the residents who count on these places for their personal survival. For each copy of The Other Thief we sell we can provide 200 meals in our Haiti orphanages and villages. All six of my books benefit our Caring House Project.
KIMBERLY: Is there a final message you want to let the audience know? Or just any last little words that you have for them?
FRANK: Grace, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption is available to everyone, yes even you reading this. When we believe this and earnestly seek it from God we find it easier to extend the same to ourselves and to those in the world. This is the seed for self-love. When we are able to truly love ourselves, loving others becomes far easier. If God forgives you, who are you to hold on to your sin?
KIMBERLY: If our readers wanted to reach you, where can they find you? And where can they find your books?
FRANK: Your readers can learn about The Other Thief at www.TheOtherThief.com, including reading a sample chapter after 9.18.18. They can buy The Other Thief from us: https://tinyurl.com/y7olxmxt or Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yaawgrzq. If they want to share their thoughts on the book, I answer ALL my emails, firstname.lastname@example.org.
KIMBERLY: Thank you, Frank, very much! It has been such a pleasure chatting with you today and learning about your work.
FRANK: Thanks, Kimberly! Now back to looking out my treehouse window at the beautiful ocean outside. You must come to visit someday!