Significant and Relevant

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Jeff Pollak Author Interview

First Second Coming has a new God replacing the old one and wants to test humanity’s ability to eliminate violence or face extinction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

Although I didn’t start writing the novel until 2015, the concept that planet earth needs a planetary turnaround specialist came to me while I watched the World Trade Center’s towers collapse on 9/11.

Prior to that horrible event I’d been in the building many times, the last time being in May, a few months before the attack. I had in the WTC and my law firm did annual conferences at the Top of the Tower conference center there and knew some of the staff. As the towers fell I worried about everyone inside, whether I knew them or not.

The idea of writing a story around a planetary turnaround specialist re-emerged when I sat down to try to write my first novel. Ram and Bren’s names and histories, an outline of a basic plot and three possible endings flowed out in one sitting. It was as though I’d developed all that subconsciously in the intervening fourteen years between 9/11 and 2015.

I enjoyed Ram and Brendali’s characters. What were some driving ideas behind their character development and relationship?

My character development was an effort to have Ram and Bren share some common features but respond to them in entirely different ways. For example: Both of them shared a blue collar upbringing and had to deal with traumas. While Ram’s childhood traumas made him reject religion and become self-reliant, Bren’s traumas made her embrace Catholicism and rely on her relationship with (the now retired) god. In this way the two of them could relate to one another while coming from entirely different emotional spaces.

I also wanted Ram and Bren to be able to exemplify the book’s themes (discussed below) in their attitudes and interactions, while understanding that they are opposites in temperament and personalities. The idea was that they’d be able to complete each other, supply strength when needed or bolster weaknesses when required – an example of the opposites attract concept.

The relationship these two developed is entirely different. When I began writing I didn’t know that some authors get so close to their characters that they can actually hear them. That happened to me – I’m neither female nor Latina, so hearing Bren in my head the first time was jarring. But I got used to it and began to enjoy the experience.

Before long Bren was waking me up at around 4 a.m. to tell me what was going on in the next chapter I was writing. I let her shape the romance aspect of the story since she was hot for Ram and he was mutually attracted to her.

I hadn’t expected a romantic relationship, it simply developed. I was fine with that since it contrasted with the suspense elements and provided lighter moments that allows readers to catch their breaths every so often. The relationship also deepened both characters and gave them a personal stake in the outcome of the “Convocation” that serves as the novel’s motor. Taken all together, there was no reason not to let Bren and Ram fall in love.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Because this novel was inspired by 9/11, I wanted to stay true to event thematically. I felt that the best way to honor all those who died that day was to use religious violence as the test the new God employs to determine whether or not humanity would be included in the planetary turnaround plan.

That meant the themes had to be related in some way. The obvious connection, at least to me, was to adopt the themes of tolerance, acceptance and cooperation. Bringing members of religions from all over the world to work together or face extinction struck me as the right vehicle for demonstrating the need for these attributes.

I had no idea when I chose these themes that we’d be in the world we’re in right now, when tolerance, acceptance and cooperation are in such small supply. So these themes are more significant and relevant than I expected. But that’s an added bonus.

This is Book one in The New God Series. What can readers expect in Book two?

I’m working on book two now. It has a working title of Earth’s Peril. I’m too early into the book to be able to estimate when the book will be ready for publication, but 2022, if not sooner, seems to me to be a reasonable guess.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Website

In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether Earth’s dominant species should or should not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. To earn a coveted spot in this God’s good graces all mankind must do is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help, within sixty days. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a fanatical religious group bent on killing them. When rising conflicts within the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and mankind’s very survival.

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The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on November 21, 2020, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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