Pursued: God’s relentless pursuit and a drug addict’s journey to finding purpose (Author Interview)


Pursued looks like a great book.  What can you tell us about it?

We had lit a forest on fire...
We were stoned as crap...
My sister was calling 9-1-1...

As I watched the flames dance across the twilight sky, consuming everything in their path, I realized they represented my life. In my pursuit of pleasure and partying, I had ignited an addiction worse than any forest fire. After five arrests, a dozen allegations, a v-squad of cop cars chasing me down center street, and years of worshipping all the wrong things led me to the brink of death, I finally found hope in life. This is a story of how the initially enthralling and sometimes humorous pursuits of drugs, sex, and success cannot satisfy in the way that they promise, but there is One who can.

Embark on a journey of tears, hysteria, and utter chaos that will help you realize you are not as alone in your brokenness as perhaps you once thought.


Any plans to turn it into a series?

I have two more books in mind that would turn this into a ripping series.


That’s an amazing cover.  Can you tell us about it?

My wife is a professional illustrator. She usually commissions pet portraits and specializes in realism, but when it came time to create my book cover, it was a no brainer. She is the best artist I know and she couldn’t have done a better job! I love it!

The mountains are based on pictures that she took just outside the studio she works at. They are pictures of the Wasatch Front, the mountain range in which the scene of the life-threatening accident in my book took place. The silhouette is me and it’s based on a real photograph she took of me posing. No, I wasn’t actually smoking a dobie when she took it. Been clean from that crap a long time! :D


What inspired the idea for the book?

I’ve known that I needed to write this book from the moment God saved my life with those three world shattering miracles. There are a lot of books about drug addicts, and there are even more books about drug addicts getting straight. There are very few things that dig into the root cause of addiction and even fewer that do so in a way that makes people break down with hysteria in one chapter, and weep themselves to sleep in the next.

For weeks, months, and years after that accident. As the surgeons inserted titanium screws, bolts, and rods into my bones, as my body slowly recovered and I learned how to walk again, all I could think was, why would God save somebody like me? I lived my whole life in rebellion against Him. If there was anyone who deserved death, it was me. And yet, without His intervention, I would be dead. A God whom I did not even believe in interjected in my life in concrete, tangible ways. On that mountain, some place between life and death, I saw Him. He held me in His arms and He chose to spare my life. In that moment I realized God isn’t a pile of bricks and a set of outdated rules, like i’d always thought. He is my maker. The one who made me and has a plan for my life. The one who see’s my brokenness completely and loves me still.

This book is just as much for those who are facing addiction as it is for their friends, mentors, counselors, and teachers. For all those high schoolers and college students thinking that drinking and partying is the high-life, this will hit home. For all those graduates and working professionals striving relentlessly to build a name for themselves through accomplishments, wealth, status, luxury, and success, this book will resonate.

Maybe you're at your wit's end, believing that you will never heal, you will always be broken. Maybe you're in the trenches of addiction or maybe you recently took your first hit or shot. Either way, these humorous pursuits, sorrowful stories, and powerful truths will help you know you're not alone in your battles and your hardships. More than that, this book will empower you to stand and fight for yourself and for those you love!

How did you come up with the title for the book?

During the first two years of writing I couldn’t think of a good title. After the fifth draft I started calling the book “A Rock Saved My Life.” After the ninth draft something was tugging at me. The title didn’t sit quite right. The title Pursued struck me out of nowhere, but it made sense. In my pursuit of drugs, sex, partying, hooking up, and success, the more I had the more I needed. I couldn’t find anything that truly satisfied. Yet, the whole time I pursued all these fleeting and temporary pleasures, the only true satisfaction in the universe was pursuing me with relentless passion and determination. It fits.

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Pursued?

I initially wrote 300,000 words. For those of you who aren’t writers or avid readers, that is about three to four novels worth of words. The process of condensing, consolidating, and refining each of those precious stories was painful. I ended up cutting more than I kept! The book took over 5,000 hours which equates to three-and-a-half years of working 30+ hours per week on it!

What do you like to do when not writing?

“The more I tried to refrain from drugs, the more important became snowboarding, wakeboarding, longboarding, skating, biking, hiking, bouldering, cliff jumping, and every other thing that got my adrenaline pumping. I realized these things couldn’t balance me out inside, but they were good outlets. That feeling of insidious fear, the big “what if?” that pulsates through your mind while suspended in midair. The split second where everything seems to freeze before you go plummeting towards the ground like a bolt of lightning.” Pg. 196, Pursued

Where can readers find out more about your work?

If you’d like to read all the raving reviews, check them out on Amazon, and then grab yourself a copy! https://amzn.to/3p4ILCN

I’ve been spending a lot of time developing free resources for addicts and their loved ones. You can find them at https://www.michaeljheil.com/addiction-resources.

I’m also writing a companion guide that goes along with the book and am offering that complimentary to anyone who wants to download it! Studies on resilience have found that developing one or more deep interpersonal relationships with a responsible non-substance abusing adult can increase resilience up to 80%. I have too many friends who have lost the fight to drugs and I want to help as many other people as possible to have break-through with their loved ones. https://www.michaeljheil.com/companion-guide

If you simply loved the book and want to donate a few copies to struggling youth at the Utah rehabs, jails, and treatment centers that Michael volunteers at you can do so here! Thank you so much! https://www.michaeljheil.com/store

The resources are designed to take you from a place of powerlessness to a place of hope by giving you a concrete plan for battling your addictions! There a lot of things still in the works so please be patient with me. I’m aiming to have all of the online courses and companion guide finished by mid-July, 2023.