Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will passionately spend hours long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla fills her spare time with reading from her favorite fantasy and mystery genres. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.
SYNOPSIS OF WHERE SHADOWS LIE: His dark past haunts him. His new life taunts him.
After twenty years in the gangs and a hefty prison sentence, an early release gives Shawn the opportunity to turn his life around.
But that isn’t so easy when gangs are involved.
Only a year into his fresh start, the gang catches on and makes Shawn’s life miserable. After all, once a gang member, always a gang member. His very blood belongs to them.
Threats become promises. Whispers become actions. Words become bullets. He must fight – not only for his life, but to save his honor, prove his integrity, and protect the woman he loves.
An ember of hope glows in the darkness, strengthening his resolve. Will her support and his determination be enough to dispel the shadows of his past?
A story of discovery and faith, love and perseverance.
1. How did you remain faithful to Christianity throughout the hardships you faced?
Though I did feel very tested during hard times, Jesus Christ was truly a stronghold for me. No, I didn’t understand what He was doing, or why we were experiencing such suffering, but I knew there was a reason. Even when it was hard for me to remember that, just leaning on Christ and taking one day at a time was all I needed. When my life seemed to be shaken apart around me, my faith was one of the solid things I could grasp. It was what kept me from despair.
2. Did the opinions others had of Shawn damage your thoughts on him?
No, not really. If anything, they make me more determined to help him clear his name. People have good reason to be skeptical of him, I understand, but it certainly frustrates me when they aren’t willing to see how he has changed. It’s like they aren’t even open to the idea of him wanting to be someone better. So, others’ opinions definitely didn’t damage my thoughts of him…they inspired me fight for him even more.
3. How did you manage to tolerate the judgement others had about Shawn and your relationship?
I just had to realize that I can’t make decisions off what other people believe or think. Those decisions need to be based off what I feel God is telling me and how He’s guiding me. When I was frustrated with others judging me for dating a non-believer, it was tough—sure—but time with Shawn always made me feel better. I felt so…right. I was just so certain God was leading us. I now know that even though it felt right, I was disobeying the Lord by being with a non-Christian. I am so thankful He was gracious enough to work everything out through repentance and forgiveness.
4. Would you erase the events that involved the gang even if it meant that Shawn might never become a Christian if you did change them?
Never. I’ve thought of it…I’ve wondered if Shawn could have become a Christian some other way, and I’m sure God could make it happen. But…everything we went through together has made our relationship so much stronger and has refined all of us. I think, in a way, it was necessary for us to become who we are now.
1. Do you think you would have ever became a Christian without experiencing the events that occurred from the gang?
I honestly don’t know. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my experiences, it’s that life can constantly surprise us. Maybe I would have become a Christian; maybe not. I do know that Virginia has a huge influence on me, but I don’t think it was enough by itself to make me realize I couldn’t do things on my own. But who knows? Maybe I would have.
2. How do you feel towards the new life you have been granted?
Absolutely in awe. I don’t even know how to fully express my wonder and gratitude. It’s just…overwhelming. I have a hard time believing something so great like this could really happen to me.
3. How did you manage to stay sane and not stray back to your old life in the time of trouble?
I’m not gonna lie—when I was at my lowest, the crime life didn’t seem like such an awful idea. At first, I think I just didn’t want to spend my energy on it. Later on, though, my conscience stopped me. All along, I had thought I was trying to be a better person for Virginia, but when I hit rock bottom, I realized it wasn’t just for her. A new determination ignited in me—I realized I was doing this to clear my reputation and better myself because I wanted it. I wanted to be an honorable man. I wanted to be trustworthy. I wanted to have a clear conscience and clean hands. I wanted to prove to the gang what I was made of. And that’s what motivated me to not stray back to my old life.
4. Would you change your past even if you aren’t certain if your future may change with it?
Oh boy. Sure, there are some things I would love to change about my past. Not just my own actions, but the actions of others toward me. Still, if it changed my current reality, there’s no way I would do it. I wouldn’t change my life with Virginia, my faith, or my new job for an easier childhood/adolescence. Besides, I got through it. It’s over now. One thing I’ve learned though all of this is I can’t enjoy the future if I’m caught in the past.
5. What would you say to people who are experiencing similar troubles to what you have faced?
No matter how great the pressure is, don’t return to your past criminal life. It’s not worth, it won’t fix your problems, and you would just end up with more regrets in the long run. Push through each day and work hard. The easy way never pays off, even if it feels right in the moment.
1. Do you wish you could have given up gang life to try to be with Joy?
As nice as she was when we were together, Joy was a distraction. I will admit that I didn’t feel entirely indifferent toward her, but I’m not about to play the part of desperate lover. I worked too hard for too long to throw away my established reputation and career because of a few feelings.
2. If you could say one thing to Joy, what would you say?
It’s hard for me to admit, but I would probably apologize for the money/bank accounts incident, and wish her well.
3. Like Shawn, is there any part of you that wants to change your life to be better?
I have done everything in my power to establish myself among the gangs and underworld, and I have succeeded. I would never change that, nor my actions to get to this point. I know my father would be proud of what I have accomplished, and what matters even more is that I am proud of myself.
4. What had brought you to constantly try to kill Shawn and his family even though he did what you wanted him to do?
It wasn’t just about Shawn doing what I wanted. Sure, his leaving the gang gave me good enough reason to begin with, but I had a much deeper reason than that. Shawn’s father killed mine. Even though Vince, Shawn’s father, died at the hands of others with long-held vendettas against him, I still required my revenge. Vince might not have been available, but Shawn was—and family must pay for family’s choices. It’s as simple as that. My father needed avenging, and I would not rest until Shawn’s happiness was eradicated—just like mine was when my father was murdered. The Parrino family needed to taste what that felt like.
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