1) Explain how you came to write The Eighth Scroll, including any interesting experiences in doing so or getting it published:
About seven years ago, I was researching material for another book I was writing at the Library of Congress. An Arab gentleman was sitting next to me at the reading tables, and we fell into conversation. Eventually, I asked what he was working on. Now, anybody who has spent time in the reading rooms at the Library of Congress knows that it is a tense environment. Many researchers are on strict deadlines, some are commercial writers, and virtually all are secretive, out of fear someone will steal their ideas. But this man was friendly and open, giving me a taste of the Arab manners and hospitality I later came to know as integral with their culture. So what was he researching? The Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, the funny thing was that, after talking a bit, he said that he thought I should be the one to write about the subject, not him. Well, I just laughed. I couldn’t imagine ever writing about something as dull as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ha! Never cast an opinion when Fate holds your cards. A few years later, I learned that religious scholars were leveling charges of academic scandal against the Israeli authorities for not releasing the scrolls to the public. I investigated, and what I found shocked me. Not only did I find the history of the scrolls to be fascinatingly bloody and tumultuous, but I realized the secret of the scrolls provided the perfect theme for a swashbuckling, hyper-intense adventure.
2) Please describe the theme of your book and its scope:
This is a near-real world scenario, the importance of which can be easily understood by everybody. World powers are very concerned that someday the true gospel of Jesus or of James will surface, perhaps in an archeological dig, perhaps hidden away in a monastery library. Why do they worry about this? Because a historical document that unequivocally validates Jesus’ prophethood would negate Judaism and the state that justifies its existence, based upon the concept of unifying the Jewish people – i.e., Israel. Similarly, a unequivocal expression of Jesus’ teachings might turn out to be contrary to orthodox Christian canon. After all, Jesus’ teachings in the Bible are all Unitarian in nature; only from Paul did the modern church derive the doctrines of Divine Sonship, Trinity, Resurrection, Atonement, etc. In fact, the teachings of Jesus and Paul are virtual opposites, so a true gospel of Jesus or James, if ever found, could be expected to challenge, if not destroy much of the world of Christianity. After all, most versions of Christianity are based more on the teachings of Paul than of Jesus. And this presents a problem, which would be drawn into acute focus, were the unequivocal teachings of Jesus brought to light. Potentially affected parties, whether religious bodies or religion-based governments, would be keen to possess and control such a gospel, and it is not inconceivable that they could even be driven to kill to suppress it. So the drama is easy to conceptualize.
Personally, I cannot think of any document on the face of this Earth that would create greater havoc than a scripture that threatens the worlds’ great religions and forces people to re-examine their own beliefs. My book, The Eighth Scroll, is a dynamic action/adventure in which the main character discovers just such a document — a Dead Sea Scroll that threatens the world’s great religions. As a result, every major world power that has a stake in religion (i.e., the Vatican, Israel’s Mossad, even Christian America’s CIA) will fight to possess it or kill to suppress it. In so doing, they force the hero to fight for his life at the same time that he struggles to bring the truth to light.
3) What are some of your favorite books (besides your own)?
I have very diverse tastes in literature, and read in most genres. In non-fiction, I prefer well written history and social analysis, such as The Year 1000, The Tipping Point and Freakonomics. I am fascinated by anything that exposes historical misconceptions. I also love historical fiction, and my favorite novel of all time would have to be The Lion of Ireland, by Morgan Llywelyn. I read a lot of short stories, from Jeffrey Deaver and Jeffrey Archer to Jack London and, tripping back into the 19th century, the absolute master of all time, Guy de Maupassant. On the flip side of fantasy, I love the original Conan series by Robert E. Howard, and trip to the science fiction of Issac Asimov. I even read the westerns of the masters. In short, I love everything that is well-written, but especially books that disclose the secrets of history and human nature.