So maybe you're wondering who is this "Allen Steadham" guy? Where'd he come from? Why did he start writing? Or perhaps why does he write Christian speculative fiction (i.e. science-fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, etc.)? I'd be happy to tell you.
It seems like I've always been writing. By the age of nine (in 1979), this Texas boy had become a big fan of comic books, mainly Marvel and DC superhero stuff. And I decided to make my own, hand-drawn comics, original superhero stories. As an ambitious ten-year-old, I even mailed a comic page submission to Marvel Comics. In return, I received the sweetest rejection letter possible, as I'm sure they could tell my age by the quality of the art.
That experience didn't discourage me, it actually inspired me to try and get better! I continued making those comics for years, even after I became involved with the woman I would marry. This crazy guy asked her to edit his comics (and she did)!
But in January 1996, I reached a crossroads in my life. One Saturday, I became extremely ill as a result of dehydration stemming from the flu. My wife, Angel, took me to a minor emergency clinic and they determined that I had lost half the (non-blood) fluids in my body. Every time the medical staff tried to give me fluids intravenously, my veins would collapse. This happened four times within a fairly short time. It forced me to contemplate the possibility of dying that day, which was terrifying!
Even though I had become disillusioned about attending church and "organized religion" in general when I turned 18, I had not stopped believing in God or Jesus Christ. In fact, I thought I was a Christian. But my life did not reflect that. I did not have a good understanding of the Bible nor of who Jesus really is, what He could do in my life.
I was a very different person then, a living contradiction: I was sensitive and cared deeply about my friends and family but I was vengeful, holding long grudges and a vicious rage in my heart. I was more scared of myself than anyone in the world. I aspired to be a journalist and wrote imaginative comics and had started teaching myself to play the electric bass guitar and keyboards but I had a wicked imagination. I cursed, smoked marijuana and when I did drink alcohol, it was Irish whiskey. I took tremendous risks to marry the woman I love, who is African-American, but we were too emotionally volatile for our marriage to succeed. Everything was heading for a disaster, even before I got sick.
However, Angel met a witness for Jesus at her workplace. They spoke with my wife (and later with me) about "living free from sin," salvation through God and His Son, Jesus Christ. She also told my wife about the church she attended and its pastor. Angel went to that church a few times and decided to give her life to Christ, shortly before our oldest son was born.
Over the next few months, I saw a real (and positive) change in the way Angel behaved towards me and the way she took care of our son. She would periodically ask if I wanted to visit a church service or Bible study. And I would always politely decline. I wanted her to be happy but I didn't want to change.
Though after I while, I thought to myself "What's the harm in going to a Bible study? She's been really good to me and I love her. This is a way I can show her that." So, I agreed to attend one. On the day of the Bible study, I started feeling very sick. Angel asked what I wanted to do. I asked her to take my temperature. I told her if I had no fever, I would still go...but if I had a fever, I'd have to stay home. She took my temperature and, even though I know I had a fever, the thermometer indicated the opposite.
I went to the Bible study. But once I got there, I felt so unwell that I couldn't eat any of the delicious food they served us beforehand. And once the pastor started the study, my back began to hurt...a lot. I pressed on, telling myself I was doing this for Angel, but it intensified throughout the night.
Something extraordinary happened in the midst of my growing pain: it forced me to concentrate on every word the pastor said. I had to look past any preconceived ideas and past doctrine. Doing so, I truly heard the gospel of Jesus Christ that night. The pastor spoke about how God and the devil war over people's souls. It was fascinating, illuminating and backed up by scripture.
By the end of the evening, I asked the pastor if I could come to his church that Sunday and give my life to Christ. He welcomed me to do so, but things would take a detour before then.
That evening, I had a terrible coughing fit which woke me in the middle of the night. I hacked and wheezed so hard that it threw something out in my back. Somehow, I managed to get some sleep.
I was still hurting the next morning and I asked Angel to take me to the emergency room. She agreed and then called the pastor to tell him what was going on and ask for his prayers. He asked us to stop by his house on the way to the hospital, so we did. He gave us $40.00 out of his own pocket and said he would be praying for us. We were very poor at that time and were grateful for his generosity. When we finished at the hospital, the insurance co-pay was $25.00 and the prescription for pain medication had a co-pay of $15.00 -- a total of exactly $40.00! We were amazed.
Unfortunately, the flu kept me at home that weekend but by Monday, I had recovered enough to return to work. Or so I thought. That Friday night, I was delirious and felt horrible again. Angel called the pastor and I believe that the combination of his and her prayers are what stabilized me enough to make it through that evening.
The next afternoon, I was at the minor emergency clinic, laying on a table and not knowing whether I was going to survive the day. I took a hard, honest look at my life and I didn't like what I saw. I knew that if I died right then, I would not go to Heaven. The Bible study lesson about God and the devil warring over souls returned to my mind. I contemplated Hell for the first time. I seriously considered how frightening it would be to spend eternity there. Desperate, I reached out with my thoughts and begged "God, if You save my life today, I'll go to church tomorrow and give my life to You!"
Just then, my fifth vein collapsed but the nurse told me that the IV had infused one liter of fluid into me beforehand (I needed two). She told me that I could either drink one liter of orange juice and see if I could keep it down. Or they could go for a vein in my ankle next. I said "give me the orange juice." I drank it and I kept it down. So, after a little while, they let me leave.
The next day, I kept my promise to God and gave my life to His Son, Jesus Christ. And He changed me. The old me died and I was spiritually born again. That was January 22, 1996.
Since then, I have not cursed, smoke or drank alcohol. The Lord took that vengeful spirit out of me and I can forgive. I am still growing as a Christian but the Lord helped me become a better husband and father. And I decided that I want to use my creativity for the Lord. Within months, my wife and I were both participating in music with the church. And within a year, we were asked to join a band, First Light, which we are still members of to this day.
I continued making comics but they were no longer superhero comics. I wanted to make a Christian comic with my wife as the co-writer and editor. We eventually made Due East and it became an award-winning (Best Spiritual Comic 2008, Most Profound Comic 2008) slice-of-life webcomic.
In 2013, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). I took many of the characters and a few story elements from my very first comic, updated them and gave it a Christian theme. Over the next three weeks, the first draft of Mindfire came together. It would take another two years to edit it but I self-published it on Amazon in 2016.
When I finished Mindfire (which I considered a fond farewell to my very first characters), I wanted to start from scratch on my next novel. Initially, I considered it a fantasy novel but as it progressed, I understood that the sci-fi elements actually made it a science-fantasy novel instead. And my wife edited the manuscript with me. Now, "Jordan's World" will be my first novel with my new publisher, Ambassador International, and I'm very proud of that. "Mindfire" will also be published by Ambassador International. Both will be available by Summer 2019.
Who knows what will happen from here? But this is who I am now and what I want to do. I hope you enjoy this journey along with me!
Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading this.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.