Character Spotlight ~ William Sirls’ Rip & Andy

The Sinner's GardenMeet an ex-con and a shy teen in

William Sirl’s

supernatural thriller

The Sinners’ Garden

Thomas Nelson

The Story

In the small Lake Erie township of Benning, someone is at work cultivating a supernatural garden …

Andy Kemp’s young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.

As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.

Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.

As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.

Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.

Enjoy meeting Rip & Andy

Gerald “Rip” Ripley 

Brief physical description

Gerald “Rip” Ripley. He’s an ex-con who’s enthusiastic about sharing his newfound faith. Rip is a custodian, six-three, muscular and has thinning blond hair."Defendor" Screening - TIFF 2009


For Rip, think of a buff and 35-year-old Woody Harrelson.

Strengths and weaknesses

Rip is a street smart ex-con, a hard worker, and is passionate about his newfound faith.  Despite his many strengths, he can’t seem to muster the courage to tell the only woman he’s ever really cared for that he loves her.

Quirk (if any)

Rip still uses the word “bro” and has little patience for hypocritical Christians. He’s overly eager to share his testimony and frequently shares it with people that don’t want to hear about it.

Your inspiration for the character

Let’s see… ex-con, overly anxious to talk about the faith he developed while in prison… sounds a little like the author who created him to me.  😉

Andy Kemp

Brief physical description

Andy is 14 years old, five-ten and extremely thin. He is shy with bright blue eyes and is very self-conscious. He wears his long dark hair over the sides of his Logan Lermanface to cover a bell-shaped burn scar that runs from his ear to the base of his neck.


For Andy, think of a 14-year-old string bean Logan Lerman type.

Strengths and weaknesses

Andy’s strength is that he has been chosen to hear the voice of God through his iPod. His weakness is his insecurity about the burn scar on the side of his face.

Quirk (if any)

Andy rarely goes out in public without his motorcycle helmet on.

Your inspiration for the character

Andy’s character was inspired by a kid I grew up near who always carried around a broken ruler. It was duct taped together and he frequently talked to it, calling it his “walkie-talkie.” I often wondered what would happen if the ruler talked back, giving me the idea for God talking to Andy through an iPod.

Background to the story

After writing The Reason, I’ve had several conversations with readers that have danced around the question, “Where is it written that God was going to quit performing miracles two-thousand years ago?”

The truth of the matter is that it isn’t written anywhere. So I figured I’d have a mysterious garden of wildflowers show up overnight behind an abandoned steel mill. Then I’d give fourteen-year-old Andy Kemp a broken iPod that transmits the voice of God to him. Finally, I tossed in “The Summer Santa,” a prowler who wears a black ski mask, black gloves, and all black clothing. He only comes out at night and has been breaking into houses. The cool thing about him is that the only way you’ll know he was in your house is when you wake up and see that he’s left you something… something you’ve been praying for. This story was a lot of fun to write!

Thanks William!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Visit William’s website and blog
Buy The Sinner’s Garden from Amazon or Koorong

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3 Responses to Character Spotlight ~ William Sirls’ Rip & Andy

  1. Sounds like a great read. I’m really enjoying Thomas Nelson’s vision for their fiction line.
    Thanks, Rel. :)

  2. I loved this. Thanks for having William on your blog!

  3. Thank you so much, Rel!

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