Friday, September 21, 2007

How a Novel is Born

You can now download a FREE copy of Absence of Faith from the Publisher's website at

Have you ever wondered what people would do if you took away their faith, their hope, and their religion? Is religion and mores what keeps us civilized and superior to the animal kingdom? My wife and I were discussing these very ideas one day and we thought it would make an interesting plot for a novel.

The result was Absence of Faith, a modern day medical mystery thriller, where negative near death experiences plague a small, highly religious town causing many of its residents to lose their faith, and their belief in the future. When some residents wake up with burnt skin, they believe they went to hell and that God has abandoned them. Matters get worse when a local cult uses the opportunity to promote their beliefs and win over the town residents. The result is an absence of faith.

Here is an excerpt:

Father McDuffy directed him to the head of the table, but he did not sit. The bishop placed a hard black briefcase on the table and snapped the hasps open. The sound and deliberate motions of the bishop suggested that his black case held something ominous and evil and that it would be unleashed when he opened it. The men in the room watched trance-like as the bishop opened the case and took out a small stack of papers.

"All my life I have battled evil. I have avoided it at every turn. I have turned it back whenever I could. I have sacrificed and I have worked very hard to lead my people on the right road, the good road, the road towards salvation. And I have been successful. But now for the first time in my life I don't feel this is something we can ignore or is it something to be taken lightly. I feel that this evil is very strong and we have to push very hard to help our followers hold on to their faith in God and his teachings. I have never said this, but I feel the evil is winning," the bishop announced in a deep, dark authoritarian voice.

"I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end - not a disease or a pestilence, but the rise of Satan, the rise of evil in the world. Armageddon. This did not just happen yesterday or last week or last year. I have been watching it for several decades," the bishop said.

He reached into his briefcase and took out a pair of reading glasses. He positioned them on his large, baldhead, and then reached down and took hold of a thick rust brown leather-jacketed book. Its edges and corners were lighter in color than the rest of the jacket. He pushed his briefcase aside and placed the heavy book on the table in front of him. His hand disappeared into his pant pocket and then reappeared holding a small gold key. He placed the tiny key in a gold lock that held the book shut. The men could hear themselves breathing. He turned the key and the lock made a sharp click. He moved the belt clasp out of the tiny hasp and slowly opened the book. Its pages were the color of old newsprint. He bent down close to the book and turned several pages and then he stopped. He began to read:

"'And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,' is from Revelations, 20:7 ' ye have heard that Anti-Christ shall come, even now there are many Anti-Christs...’ from 1 John 2:18. This Anti-Christ is expected to spread evil throughout the world, only to be conquered by the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. Thes first Anti-Christ was Napoleon, who was responsible for the deaths of two million people and fourteen years of war. The second Anti-Christ was Hitler, who was responsible for the deaths of some fifty million human beings in his pursuit to conquer the world. I believe the third and last Anti-Christ is here now and living somewhere in this world in our current century,” Bishop Phulax explained without blinking once.

The small crowd sighed.

Will the heroine, Chantress, stop the antagonist, Kyle Mabus from destroying all known religions? You can read the first chapter by clicking on the link to the publisher’s page: Absence of Faith

I rewrote the entire book because I created the original in the late 1980s. The characters used phone booths and fax machines quite a bit back then and I had to bring them into the 21st century with cell phones and email. I also greatly improved the plot and put in additional chapters to make the story hold together better.

Researching the facts in the book was a lot more work back in the 1980s when the Internet didn't exist - I had to do my research the old fashioned way - in the library. It was slower and obviously more time consuming.

The setting for the book is based on an actual small town on the coast of New Jersey, where in fact many of the residents were highly religious. I don't know if it is still that way today, but the town is very unique and still has the charm and character of the 19th century.

My daughter, Emily, 12, illustrated the cover from a photo we found of a large stained glass church window. I took her ink pen illustration and designed the front and back covers. It took me a good three months to perfect the cover and the layout. I worked on it almost every night and on weekends playing with different typefaces, different effects, and positioning the elements in various locations until all the elements worked together to create the look and feel I was trying to communicate to readers.

The Writer's Edge: I write because...

The Writer's Edge: Responses to Why Do You Write?

Writer's responses to David Morrell's fascinating premise that writers write because of personal traumas that haunt them throughout their lives. Click on the link above to read the whole story.