Why did you decide to write The Eighth Scroll?
I couldn’t resist. It was the setting of the greatest adventure I could imagine. The scrolls’ keepers hid the Dead Sea Scrolls away in the incredibly bloody period of the Jewish Revolt. Then the Romans massacred them in the most horrific manner, laid siege to Jerusalem, wiped out the insurgents and destroyed the Jewish Temple. Jump to present day when my story, The Eighth Scroll, unfolds, and the intrigue is no less dynamic, the real-world concerns vivid and viable, and the tension no less intense.
Do you have any secret writing tips you’d like to share?
Against all advice, I don’t create an outline before writing my stories. What I do is choose a near-real life scenario, create detailed character profiles, and then let them come alive in my imagination. After that, the story simply writes itself.
Tell us a quirky or funny story about you!
Basically, I’m a rebel. I go up the down stairs and in the out door. If the door says pull, I push. If that doesn’t work, I push harder. I’ve spent a lifetime doing things differently from how people tell me they’re supposed to be done, so I’ve learned a lot about the envelope and tolerance of everyday things. Fifty years of this seems to have expanded my imagination. All the same, it still drives my wife nuts at times, especially when she says, ”Don’t do that again,” and I reply, “What . . . this?”
Have you ever battled writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
A solid snort of WD40 and finger exercises in a bowl of cold Jello normally does the trick. But seriously (and what makes you think I’m not?), nothing beats two minutes of exercise, ten hours of sleep, and half a gallon of yogurt smoothie for breakfast.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Do be dobe do, da-dum de dum dum.” Seriously, I kind of like Sir Winston Churchill’s “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
Who inspires you the most?
Benjamin Franklin, but only because his face is on the hundred dollar bill. Alexander Hamilton comes in a close second, but only because . . . well, you get the idea.
1. What excites you most about your book’s topic? Why did you choose it?
What excites me most is the movie rights. Oops, no, what I really meant is I get a kick out of the realization that the world’s major religions pray to find the gospel of James, or of Jesus, despite the fact that these gospels can be expected to contradict, rather than support, accepted doctrines of major religions. And this is where the Dead Sea Scrolls come into the picture . . .
2. How long did the book take you from start to finish?
Six weeks for the first draft, six months of crying, screaming and hair-pulling over my editor’s (a manuscript-mauling literary dominatrix) developmental edit, and another three to four months of mewling like a subdued kitten over the line edit.
3. What aspect of writing the book did you find particularly challenging?
Pouring my heart and soul into a passage that simply flowed with liquid genius, just to realize it was really overcooked, fetid tripe. Killing my baby, by which I mean deleting favorite passages in the interest of improving the book as a whole, was the hardest part.
4. What surprised you the most about the book writing process?
What a kick-ass, page-pumping, action stud I could be when I put my mind to it – and modest, too. Actually, the most surprising thing was how totally draining the process of novel creation was, both physically and emotionally. Toward the end, I wanted to curl up and cry in the shower, like Glenn Close in The Big Chill. But then my bear-bashing, lumberjack superego slapped me out of it and I . . . curled up naked and cried in the closet instead, hugging a feather duster that tickled my hel-lo.
5. Did you have any favorite experiences when writing your book?
Heck yeah! I remember that wild night in Singapore when my antipsychotic medications wore off and I . . . Huh? You mean experiences relating to my book? Oh. Nope, none of those. Well, unless you count the feather duster story. Or maybe the night my wife suggested I could break my writer’s block by grabbing the chocolate sauce, a bottle of baby oil and . . . What? A family audience, you say? Gosh, that makes it tough. Okay, how’s this: I had just finished tightening the black leather straps on my (CENSORED BY WEBSITE)
Just kidding. Actually, I wrote that.
NO, WE DID.
Uh, no . . . I did.
WE DID, WE DID, WE DID. NAH, NAH, WE’RE NOT LISTENING . . .
*Anti-psychotic meds kick in*
Favorite moments, you asked? This one, actually. I just live for interviews.
6. What do you hope your readers will gain from reading your book?
After what I’ve written above, I shudder to suggest “sanity.” But, yeah, I hope readers find their hearts and minds sucked into the story, their emotions strained, their imaginations ignited, and their fantasies fulfilled. Then, I hope they rally around me with flaming torches, brandishing pitchforks and bladed farm implements while we march on the bastions of conventional wisdom, chanting battle cries of rage and lust. Together, we’ll assault the walls of the doctrinal prisons that suppress licit desires, enslave creative minds and suffocate the soul of spirituality. We’ll overcome the forces of evil and establish peace, justice, love and tranquility in the land. Then we’ll congregate on the King’s lawn, where we’ll truck in greasy take-out and thirst-buster sodas, flop senseless on the grass and sleep the slumber of the righteous, farting softly.
7. What projects are you currently working on?
Actually, if you think The Eighth Scroll excites controversy, just wait until you read my next thriller, Sarah’s War. If The Eighth Scroll brings hate mail, Sarah’s War will get me killed. And on this, I’m not joking. In fact, Sarah’s War addresses such a sensitive subject, I have been warned to not even talk about it until the book is published.
–NOTE from 2023: Sarah’s War was subsequently re-titled, The Zion Deception.
8. Is writing your sole career? If not, what else do you do?
I’m the medical director and chief of ophthalmology at a busy clinic in the Middle East. My specialty is extreme cataracts, as well as glaucoma and refractive surgery.
9. Did you do any research for your books, or did you write from experience?
Both. My research was years in the compilation, my experience longer. I spent the past fifteen years studying the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For the last eleven years, I have divided my time between America, England, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
10. How did you come up with your title?
Although the Dead Sea Scrolls number in the hundreds, the initial find was of seven scrolls. I wrote The Eighth Scroll about a hypothetical text that was hidden away because of its theologically-threatening content. Based on the content of valid scripture, this scroll has the potential to either confirm or condemn established religious beliefs and practices. As a result, world powers will fight to possess it, or kill to suppress it. The first seven scrolls contain nothing earth-shattering. The eighth scroll, on the other hand, most certainly does.
11. What books have influenced you the most?
Archie and Jughead. Or was it Curious George? I don’t know. Final answer? My Potty, My Friend. If not for that book, I might still be in diapers.
12. Who was your publisher and why did you choose them?
As a new author in the field of fiction, BookSurge (now CreateSpace) allowed me to maintain control of my books. Now, I’m not a hundred percent idealistic. I mean, I can be bought. Make your offer and we’ll see if we can do business.