For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath provides a glimpse of the havoc the Devil can wreak when he comes for the End of Days and in search of a young Office Manager. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this novel?
The very first inspiration was a sort of vision, about 10 years ago. I saw a woman standing in a room surrounded by old wood and stones. She was close to a canopy bed and she was carrying a big, heavy, woolen blanket towards a window. I felt her sorrow, she was sad about somebody, she tremendously missed a person. Ten years after I was sitting in my beautiful sunroom in Northern BC, sipping tea and staring at the dark woods outside, the trees turning red, brown and orange, the crab apples filling the air with their sweet smell. I stared for maybe 5 minutes, after which I felt an extreme urge to write. I took my laptop and hastily started recording the events that would lead to “For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath”. I started writing in September. I had the entire story in my head, but I was busy with my daily activities, so I decided to set up a plan: I had to write at least 3,000 words a day, making up for those days in which I did not have time to write. That year the winter was particularly harsh, I felt I was held captive, and writing was the only escape from the daily -30°C, from the roads covered in ice and snow, from the long hours of darkness. I wrote almost every day, not having to think once about how the story would evolve: the adventures just flew out of me, in a sort of “channeling”. In February my first book was finished, but 6 more were already brewing in my head, including the sequels of this first book. It was only at that point that I decided to walk the next mile, and treat it as a professional work. I contacted the BC Editors Association and was smitten by their reactions to my little story. After contacting the BC Editors Association, I decided to go on a solo trip through British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alberta. Every evening I would check my emails and find those of authorities in the field that loved my work and were looking forward to read the entire story. This incredible experience spurred me to publish the novel.
My upbringing also definitely influenced my story-telling. Both my parents are attached to traditions, religion, legends and magic. My mother made sure that I would not forget about my roots, the Valley, the village “on top of the lake” (Summus Lacus), our religion. My father enhanced everything with magic and mystery.
This book is a genre-crossing novel with elements of fantasy, christian, and supernatural as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The story was absolutely not planned. I just decided to start writing it without even knowing how it would evolve. I did not prepare an outline, I did not fill my walls with sticky notes, I did not have pages and pages of comments. I do have a little notebook, containing information regarding, for example, how old the characters are, if they are allergic to something, when their birthdays are, when they met each other. Nothing about the story itself. It was as if I was writing events that really happened, and the intention was just to make sure those occurrences could be remembered by future generations. My editor, Janet Southcott from Viridian Earth Contract, called my novel a “New Age fantasy”.
Your book has some fantastical creatures, but what I enjoyed was how your characters worked in harmony with one another. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your characters?
I didn’t necessarily plan to capture any theme related to collaboration and compassion, so it definitely happened naturally. I do like the idea of different beings cooperating and developing these strong emotions and this genuine attachment for one another. In the beginning, the characters happen to come together for a higher cause; they are sort of forced to cooperate. In fact, we sometimes read that Emma doesn’t really appreciate the sternness of Ella, but, like a daughter-mother relationship, she respects the opinions and directions of a more experienced female. If we consider the novel from this point of view, it seems that the characters always approach a new “companion” with reservation, doubts and distrust. Of course, this is also caused by the events happening in the Valley, but don’t we often all react like this during our first meeting with somebody? It’s only after a few shared experiences that we manage to open up to the person in front of us. This is exactly what happens to Emma, Ella, Abela, and all the characters in the book. It is more obvious for Emma, because she is the one recollecting the events, we don’t really know what the other characters think of her, their first impression on her, but we can figure it out by reading about their behaviours and interactions with Emma through her own words. At the same time we can see how the characters evolve within their experiences: their core is the same, but their values change. There are no emotional barriers anymore; there is no time for counterproductive drama. The transition to peasant life also intensifies these values, all of a sudden the reader realizes that without technology and commodities, the characters have to communicate more, they have to cooperate and develop skills they weren’t even aware they had. Also, it is clear that by being the fellowship so diverse, each of the characters bring a different set of assets, which is shared between the members, increasing their knowledge and understanding.
This is book one in a trilogy. Where will book three pick up and when will it be available?
Book #2 and #3 are already in the process of being created, I just need the time to sit down and write them both. Book #2 will start with the main characters leaving the witch’s house and migrating to a more secure place: the gnomes’ kingdom beyond the mountains. The rest of the novel will bring more adventures and many unexpected twists. The common threads will still be the millennial fight between good and evil, love, friendship, occult, strength and hope with the Apocalypse permeating and hanging over everything like Damocles’ sword. Book #3 will incorporate also the final countdown until the last battle between good and evil, the one that will decide on the faith of humanity and Earth.
When the Devil puts his price tag on your head, you know you have to call upon some very special friends to help you stay alive. Welcome to the world of Emma. Thrown from relative obscurity into a time of being hunted, our young protagonist must transition from modern day to peasant life with difficult choices and a need to adapt. Life on the run takes trust and belief in the power of others, on a vastly changing stage. Emma Plant’s first novel throws the reader into a place where reality is no longer three dimensional. Descriptions of fairies, witches, gnomes and demons paint a picture for anyone who may wish a glimpse beyond the veil. Her characters live in the reader’s imagination beyond the final page, with the promise of a sequel, and potential trilogy in the offing. This new-age fantasy story will appeal to young adults through to senior years and is a page-turner from start to finish.
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Long years ago, at the dawning of civilization, the Eve woman was formed. Pulled from her nestling place, the side of man….
She’s the yesterday’s woman, the fresh oil of today. She’s timeless. Yet, modern, with the scent of Holiness embedded within her….
Back then, she was beguiled by evil; but now this 21st century woman is leading others to Christ Jesus, with a humble demeanor….
Discover the 3 parts within her. The Inmate, The Bunk-mate, and The Helpmate….
Go on a journey within the pages to learn of the 12 houses, that she resembles. From a shack to a tree-house, she’s unstoppable, unmovable, and always abounding in God’s grace. “Who Is This Woman? She’s The 3wGirl.
“The Woman, The Witness, And The Wife! Coming to an online bookstore near you…September 2018
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No one has seen God’s library–or have they? According to Paul Tomenko, actress Katharine Ross is hanging out there. When he is chosen by God to visit his heavenly library and, in essence, save humankind, Paul obliges. Following his brush with death as a result of a car accident, Paul is matched by fate with the woman who almost killed him thus changing the entire course of his life. Author Alan Felyk’s Damaged Beyond All Recognition details the exceptional journey of Paul, the two true loves of his life, and their combined impact upon the universe.
Paul Tomenko is a truly fascinating character. From the trials and tribulations of his youth to his eventual discovery of his love for Maggie Mae and his work for the Creator himself, Paul is strangely relatable. I found myself cheering him on as his writing career reached extraordinary heights and grieving with him through his numerous losses.
Allie, Paul’s second first love as it were, is likely my favorite of the three main characters in Felyk’s work. It is virtually impossible to imagine a young woman so innocent and simultaneously capable of unknowingly holding the answers to the world’s most pressing dilemma. As Allie begins her writing career in earnest and essentially outwrites and outsells Paul, she maintains her selflessness and an unwavering loyalty to Paul. Her devotion to a man she isn’t sure she will ever have is stunning.
Not being a fan of science fiction, I fully expected to lose interest in the most detailed sections of text. Felyk, however, is a master at communicating the most intricate and advanced concepts. I found myself as engrossed in Paul’s visits to God’s library as I was in his relationship with Maggie Mae which he fought so hard to maintain through decades of trials.
I was rather amazed at Felyk’s take on God. The Creator is ultimately dependent upon others, and this mystified me as I read. The notion that Paul is able to help God was a difficult one to get used to. Once I let the idea settle in, I became increasingly fascinated with God’s helplessness. Felyk brings a certain level of vulnerability to God–something virtually unheard of in books addressing Christianity in any sense.
The overarching plot line that kept me coming back for more revolves around Paul and Maggie Mae. To say that readers will envy their dedication to one another is a huge understatement. As years and miles separate them, they do not waver in their loyalty to one another. Felyk proves he is adept at fantasy and equally as skilled at writing heartbreaking romance.
I am giving Damaged Beyond All Recognition 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t imagine readers will find anything lacking in Felyk’s work. His characters have it all: humor, an undying loyalty in each other, a drive to save the world, and an appreciation for all things science. Paul, Maggie Mae, and Allie can hold their own against any characters in recent books of the same genre.
Pages: 367 | ASIN: B077VJGJCD
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A Deal With God: The Power of One, written by Michael Haden, tells the tale of two sweethearts Rebeccah Johnson and Leon Samuels who fates are intertwined after a romantic summer night. But tragedy is to strike the family, leaving the three children without a mother and a broken husband who feels lost and alone. A deal struck with God means a beautiful woman, Deana Murphy, will enter their life; destined to help the family in their darkest days. Faith, love and admiration will blossom as Deana helps the family in ways they would least expect.
A Deal With God is a love story unlike no other as it delves into the complexity of families, grief and having faith in God’s plan. Prepare to fall in love with the characters as you laugh, cry and experience their accomplishments right by their side.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are Rebeccah’s and Leon’s sons. A premonition about their son Mark sees God sending a woman by the name of Deana Murphy to enter their lives. We learn about Deana’s life and her hardships at the beginning of the story which builds a beautiful persona for the reader. Deana has experienced suffering and pain that only few could endure and in a twist of fate, makes a deal with God to save her life. Through her everlasting endurance and commitment to her faith, Deana begins her life and recovery in the town of Dothan, Georgia. Her faith is inspiring as she takes on incredible responsibilities and weaves her way into a complicated life.
The themes in the book can be quite emotional and complex at times, creating a sense of urgency to find out what happens and whether the characters recover from their trauma. For these reasons, prepare to sit down and read the entire book in one sitting as it is easy to read, like a “I must know what happens” kind of story. The plot line is fast-paced but still stops to describe delightful outfits or luscious food that will leave your mouth watering. It also details sporting events, pulling it away from the romantic plot line and giving the reader a sense of adventure and energy.
A Deal With God explores the different dynamics that occur within families and how different people respond and react to death. It will push the reader to consider how their family dynamic may be affected by death and grief, or how you may feel when a wonderful stranger mysteriously walks into your life. The book is based on the traditions and beliefs of Christianity and I appreciated the real-life experiences the characters endured and how they continued their faith regardless of the tests that God threw their way.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B006L9LG7U
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Humans are on a constant quest for self-actualization. We have a deep need to live in genuine serenity, to discover selves. People always seek to have full control of their mental faculties such that they can meditate without struggling too much.
Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity will get one on the right path. To open the floodgates of creativity, one needs to have peace of mind and be free of emotional baggage. This audio book is a road map to using the soul friend to achieve these. The soul friend is a non-judgmental confidante who helps an individual live to their full God-given potential. The book urges the importance of the body in accessing the mind. The science of breathing is used as an example of how one can access their mind. By breathing properly, one relaxes and eventually accesses the deepest parts of their mind. The science of breathing is often used in meditation. One may argue that the soul friend would best be a therapist or religious leader but that defeats the purpose. The point of anam cara is candor and intimacy.
This book also guides the reader through the 42 confessions to the soul, these are essential in spiritual growth. Among the most important aspects of self-empowerment is selfless service. Glenville Ashby talks about being completely used up by the time of death. Giving oneself to the society with no expectations by doing the simplest of things like offering comfort to a troubled friend. Mr. Ashby also talks about thoughts creating reality. God would not punish his own creations by blessing some and leaving others in anguish. Humans are meant to create their own blessings through hard work. This is a very interesting point of view. It makes a lot of sense upon reflection. To further affirm his stand, Glenville talks about Hellen Keller and Stephen Hawking. Their outstanding positivity and contributions to the world are awe-inspiring. The author also introduces the master keys that unlock the portal to the soul. First on the list is gratitude. This is a testament to the adage; no man is an island. The responsibility to be genuinely grateful awakens a flame within humans.
Glenville Ashby has not written this book to malign other therapies but rather to give a counterproductive approach to enlightenment and creativity. The ideas in this book, supported by views from Buddhist principles and Christianity, will force readers to do a thorough audit of their lives. It calls for a shift in practice and thought. The book is well written and inspiring. It is a useful tool for one who seeks to put themselves on a path to true happiness and fulfillment. To live authentically and unencumbered by travelling back and experiencing the magic of humans’ true essence, the soul.
Quality of life is dependent on the choices one makes and the things they focus their energies on. Achieving self-actualization is a great place to start in seeking to live the best life possible. Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity is a necessary audio book.
Listening Length: 2 hours and 27 minutes | ASIN: B01DCHO3XW
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Truth and The Serpent explores an alternate creation story that follows the serpent from the Garden of Eden. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
Once I decided to write this story, I immediately determined that I wanted it to be different in some way. If it’s the same old thing then why write it at all. Honestly, I didn’t know if that was even possible, as these stories have been overdone so many times.
The major theme of the story is true versus untrue or consistent versus inconsistent, unlike every other story you hear of about religion. Where God/ religion is all fake and the explanation is aliens, monkeys, and sun worship. Or its all real, and Jesus is coming back tomorrow at 4:30 pm, pack a bag!
The issue with stories dealing with religion is that they are usually examined through the scope of morality. But morality is not a constant, which changes with culture and time. So, as I was developing the Serpent character I searched to find something to argue other than morality, which is based on perception, and not facts. I decided that even though there were may inconsistencies in these stories there was information within them, that was consistent or true for everyone.
Then I realized that that was a good discussion to have, and one that I had never heard of with these stories. Thus the Serpent would argue consistent information, and the Man of the Present, would represent our everyday biased understanding of these stories. The discussion and theme soon changed from morality, to the impact that these stories have had on culture and society. This is why the Serpent does not debate the existence of God, or Heaven or Hell, because it’s irrelevant. As culture and society deem which acts are “wrong” and which acts are “forgivable.” Once I removed that from the narrative, I could then be honest with the Serpent Character.
I felt that there were a lot of great twists and turns throughout the novel. Did you plan this before writing the novel, or did the twists present themselves to you as you writing?
No, there was no way I could have planned that the story would unfold and then end the way it did. I had an idea for each chapter, but once I got in there they became something more. The original story was a page and a half, and was literally just rewriting the Garden of Eden story form the Serpent’s point of view. It came out well, and then I thought to myself, what would it look like if I continued…
To me most of it was not a twist, but merely a change of perspective. One thing to note, is that every time we are told these stories, we subconsciously put ourselves on the side of the “good narrative” or the “victim/ saved narrative.” By doing so we only see certain things. For example, while writing the chapter “The Earth” which covers Noah/ the flood. Once the flood came I instantly put the Serpent inside the Ark, because that’s just what our minds do. I came up with a scenario that the Serpent was camouflaged hiding in the haystacks, which I’m glad I didn’t go with. But then it hit me, why does the serpent have to be inside? The Serpent is a reptile, there are sea snakes, Sea Serpents of legend even… what would happen if I put the Serpent outside.
I did, and then everything opened up. My mind began to explore this world in a way I had never done before. I soon found that the Serpent was the perfect vehicle to do this with, as putting him outside would not affect our opinion of him, while the same couldn’t be done with the human characters. It was difficult to navigate these stories from this perspective, but once I separated my ego from the subject, I was able to write the story.
I felt that the biblical aspects in this novel were expertly used. What kind of research did you do for this story?
One I read the bible for myself. Second, I removed my ego from the equation. Writing this book was not about me, it is at its core a talking animal story that takes place in the what if universe. That is, in itself, about as fictitiously fantastical fake as you can get. However, once I started reading for myself, I quickly saw how inconsistent the biblical stories were. Then on top of that, there is the commercial understanding that we have been taught and sold.
One thing to note, is that Christianity does not own these stories, and they exist in many other cultures and beliefs. For that matter this could very well be Muslim Fiction, Jewish Fiction, or Zoroastrian fiction. We live in a western world, so that is our first thought, but these stories have existed long before there ever was a Christian church. Additionally, this story is not about religion, it is a story of humanity as seen through the eyes of the Serpent character.
Then, once I got started I didn’t limit myself to the bible. As you will note I make references to spirituality, mythology, history, science, and math. I researched and looked up everything, not just say Noah’s Ark the tale, but what Noah’s name meant. I looked up what causes a flood, what happens to flood waters, how does it impact species and topsoil and later plant growth. I viewed the events not as only divine wrath, but in natural real terms. i.e. the animals going to the Ark, is explained as animals changing their migrations. Then I asked, what could cause a change in animal migrations and so on. I then added these definitions to the biblical story, which then added new depth and meaning. I would say that I had about 100 pages of printed notes for each chapter. I looked up everything trying to find something tangible and meaningful beyond the everyday wrath, salvation, and lightshow.
Once I did that, the stories came alive and were now three dimensional, taking on new meanings that I didn’t see coming. But none of that would have been possible if I didn’t research meticulously. Most of all, I didn’t just ask questions, I sought out rational answers as if, I was actually having this epic discussion. So, in a way, it was me asking the questions that I never got an answer to, and using the “absurd Serpent in the what if universe” as a platform to have this discussion, which somehow worked.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Next is Serpent book 2. It will be the Serpent and another human character who live during the time of Jesus. The Serpent will be his obnoxiously colorful self, adding sarcastic commentary to the events as they unfold. It has a title, but I’m not releasing it until I finish writing it. I have notes started and have started planning out the chapters, but I have not begun writing the dialogue and narrative. Hopefully, I will start officially on it January 2018.
What do we really know of creation, myth, and belief? There was a Man, a Woman, a Garden, and of course… a Serpent. Yet, what we have come to know as temptation, and mortal sin are only one side of the story. You see, three sinned, and three were punished, but only two were expelled from the Garden, but afterwards…what happened to the Serpent?
A present day man finds himself eye to eye with the infamous Serpent of curse and ruin. The Serpent who characteristically makes the man an offer to learn not just what happened, but why.
A tale unlike any other, where the fall of man is not weighed on a scale of good or evil, but in truth and lies. The Serpent whose intellect, sarcasm, and wit cultivates over time as he appraises the history of man and religious lore. The Serpent who is also on a journey of self-discovery to learn the meaning of that ill-fated encounter and the purpose of his own life.
Come to know the unsung story of one who lived through creation, survived the great deluge, witnessed a mass exodus, and the rise and fall of exalted kings of men. Could such a tale, as told by a forked tongue, be the end of lies, and the beginning… of the truth.
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Jesus and Magdalene follows the story of Jesus and his return to modern day Earth where he meets Magdalene who is an activist fighting for a better world. This is an intriguing setup to a novel and a unique perspective of a religious story. Why was this novel important for you to write and what was your inspiration?
Religion has played an important role in my cultural development. I was christened, I went to catechism classes, I was confirmed and I went to mass until the age of fourteen. I wanted to create something truly original, involving contemporary problems, politics, the existence of God and human nature using facts, humor, and irony. For example, the relation between Christiany and Ecology or why there are so many racial conflicts. Jesus and Magdalene don’t give answers, but present questions. Why there is so much violence? Why there is so much stupidity? Are we really so much different from other animals? My novels satirize modern society and use irony and humor to provoke reflection and controversy.
Jesus and Magdalene are biblical figures, but in your story they’re striving to make a better world as regular people. How did you handle the balance between biblical and fictional characters to make them feel real and relatable?
For me, Jesus is the most important figure in History. Jesus was the first to say that all men are equal and to question the dogmas of the temple rulers. He also saved a woman from being stoned, according to the tradition. He was a much greater revolutionary than Castro or Che Guevara. Even those who don’t believe they are influenced by Jesus’ teachings. Freedom and Equality – those are the basis of all western society. In my novel I try to describe the challenges Jesus would face if He would visit us again, 2000 years later. But,although he limits himself to accompanying Magdalene attempting only to pacify those on bad terms, even then Jesus is unable to escape the fury of mankind.
What kind of research, if any, did you do to keep the story accurate?
I read the Bible and I search for biblical studies and interpretations.
Is there a pivotal moment in the story that you feel best defines your characters?
Yes, there is a pivotal moment in the story that defines not only the characters but also mankind (in my own interpretation). A con man – Professor Kacimba – is going to recognize Jesus, while the others don’t. A swindler sees the son of God when he tried to read his hand, but the rest of people, including this modern Magdalene, only see a normal man. This is supposed to be funny and sad at the same time.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am writing a novel about Communism, Perestroika and the fall of the Berlin wall. The Staline or Lenine ghost could be one of the characters. I hope to be published in the next year.
Jesus returns to earth and meets activist Magdalene who is fighting for a better world. He find an extremist ecological group, which is plotting to destroy a maize plantation it believes to be genetically modified. Then, he observes the rise up against a tourist development that is to be built in a forest reserve. Finally, he witnesses an armed conflict between blacks and gypsies. However, although he limits himself to accompanying Magdalene attempting only to pacify those on bad terms, even then Jesus is unable to escape the fury of mankind. And only a conman will recognize him. Using humor, Jesus and Magdalene broaches recent phenomena of social and political conflict.
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What would it be like, if more than two-thousand years later Christ walked this earth again? Would he be confused by the spread of technology or would he already know about it from having watched over mankind from above? João Cerqueira tackles this idea and more in his novel Jesus and Magdalene. There is much for Jesus to consider when he returns to the world of man. Such logical concerns as his paternity and the vehicle he decides to use to come back to earth. Scarcely is Jesus walking among men once more then he meets Magdalene. She is the newer version of her biblical-self: wrapped up in an environmental movement with Judas, Mary, Peter, James and others she works towards renewal of the earth. As if it was simply meant to be, Jesus joins her on her mission and we are left to wonder how much of the stories in the bible will play out again.
If there is anything Cerqueira does well in this book, it is describing situations and surroundings. There is an explanation at the beginning of the novel where our author lays out his experience with Christianity and his thoughts on the matter. This is beneficial for those who cherish their faith and may take issue with the idea of a modern-day Jesus Christ. This should come as a comfort to those readers as Cerqueira certainly means no disrespect.
However, while the writing is a plus, it is also a minus. Cerqueira is almost too descriptive or flowery with his language. His metaphors and similes are beautifully written but they cause the story to feel heavy. This, in turn, causes the read to be quite heavy and rely on the intellectual prowess of the reader. While this is not completely a negative for the reader who prefers something a bit more intellectual, for the casual reader this can be a detriment.
The portrayal of technology and the development of character relationships is well played throughout the entirety of the tale. If you have never been an avid reader of the bible or studied any sort of religion while in school, you will not be lost. You can think of Jesus and Magdalene as a tale of two young adults who are trying to make a difference in the world. If you are familiar with these texts, you will find that there is much that overlaps with Cerqueira’s story. It is evident that the man has done his research and is not afraid to use that in his works.
The language that author João Cerqueira uses is beautiful. For a reader looking for something heavier, thought-provoking and requiring footnotes, you cannot go wrong with Jesus and Magdalene.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B01IS20VQY
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Path of Jen is a political thriller following the harrowing journey of a young Iranian-American girl that’s kidnapped. Some events in the book were chillingly similar to real life events. Did you take any inspiration from real life when developing this book?
Current events certainly inspired my writing, and there was no shortage of material. We experienced the refugee crisis in Syria, the unprecedented growth of ISIS and all of their atrocities, and multiple attacks by radical Islamist across Europe and the US. I feel fortunate that the idea for this book came when it did, although in my heart I truly wish it wasn’t so relevant. This book lays bare a multitude of polarizing issues. On the surface there is the main issue of radical Islam and the very real threat it poses to the entire world. I do not apologize for presenting the truth as I see it on that matter. That alone is enough to inspire some, anger others, and turn off a whole bunch of potential readers. So be it. Underneath the issue of radical Islam lies the unquestionably connected and saddening issue of women’s rights. Horrific injustice is perpetrated against women under Sharia Law every day. That is one of the main reasons I chose to make Jen’s heritage Iranian, and Tehran as her place of abduction. Iran is a country with rich culture and history that only recently leapt backward to a near medieval stance on women’s rights and individual freedoms. Jen’s observations and experiences explore and expose the inconsistent message to young women that a male dominated Muslim culture whispers with a seductive smile.
Jen goes to Tehran on a family trip where she’s kidnapped and transported to Syria. I thought the details of the locations were fairly accurate. What experience do you have with Arab culture?
Many of the places and scenes in the book were taken from my own experiences as a soldier in Iraq. Suicide bombers, IEDs and Extremists were a near every day occurrence, and they instilled a heightened sense of awareness in me that I will never be able to let go of. While in Iraq, I visited the Iraqi monuments to the Iran-Iraq war near the Green Zone in Baghdad. That began my curiosity into Iranian culture and history. When I discovered the Islamic Revolution of 1979, I began reading on the subject of women’s rights. I found that some of the best advocates were women who live in, or have lived in, Iran, and their stories were heartbreaking. To effectively capture the other areas Jen was likely to visit, I turned to my laptop. I spent many hours reading travel blogs, browsing photos, and researching everyday life in Iran and Syria.
I enjoyed Jen’s character, she is intelligent, headstrong, and uses her wits to stay alive. What was your process in creating her character?
The idea for Jen came to me one day while I was quietly remembering one of the medics I served with in OIF2. She was visiting the bazaar inside the Green Zone, in October of 2014, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing and injuring several Americans and Iraqi nationals. I wasn’t with her on that day, but I remember her describing the blood, carnage, and utter chaos. I noticed a subtle change come over her. She would never be the same, I was sure of it. One of the lessons we learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, was that we could never become complacent. As fast a we could devise a new armor or defense, the jihadists would devise a new way to defeat it. What would be more devastating than a suicide bomber? The answer was, combining the violence and terror of a suicide bomber with the madness and fear of a deadly viral outbreak. It’s difficult for a man to write from the perspective of a young woman, and I struggled with it at times. I posed questions to my own teenage daughters when I wasn’t sure if I was on the right track, and I utilized female proof readers. I also drew from my own experiences with women as a firearms instructor, Marine, Soldier, and trainer. I find that women are often quick to pick up the mechanics of firearms manipulation, and I crafted Jen to have that naturally intuitive characteristic. I decided that above all else, I wanted her to have integrity and personal courage, but I also wanted my own girls to think she was a badass.
What is one thing that you think that is misrepresented in the media about Arab culture?
I think westerners are under the misconception that Arab is synonymous with Muslim or Islam/Islamic. For some reason people confuse race, culture, and religion when talking about the middle east in general. There are many races and cultures in the middle east, and although Islam is the dominant religion, there are others including Christianity. That misconception is relatively harmless, though. The real misconception is the one portrayed every single day by the media. There is a very strong message being delivered to the world that Islam is strictly a religion of peace and to question that is wrong. Somehow, it is considered intolerant and unfair to point out the crimes committed against women, gays, and children under Islamic Law, but the same is not true for Christianity. A Christian who doesn’t want to bake a cake is a threat that must be dealt with, but a radical Muslim who kills a nightclub full of Americans because of their sexual orientation is only a problem because he was able to buy a gun.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Path of Jen?
I want the reader to know that having a personal relationship with God is not something to be ashamed of. I want them to know that the spirit of America is still alive and strong, and under new leadership we can truly be great again. In one sentence: it’s not what life throws at you that’s important, it’s how you handle it. Believe it or not, those three sentences are connected.
Kidnapped, sold, now running for her life. Jen is an American girl who struggles with her Iranian heritage. At sixteen she is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Follow her journey as she fights for her freedom, stands up for truth, and finds her faith. Filled with action, intrigue, and suspense, Path of Jen will get you fired up and tug at your heart all at once.
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