Tuesday, November 21, 2017

#BookReview - Truth and The Serpent @writerJRutledge

Truth and The Serpent

By: J. Rutledge
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-1-541235489
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 20, 2017

Stumbling through a thunder and lightning storm that almost feels like God’s power is being directed specifically at him, a man finds cover in the safety of a cave. But this is not a normal, everyday cave. There is a more dangerous creature waiting inside than just your regular grizzly setting up shop for winter.

We are talking about a cavern filled with treasures. Walls that are tiled with precious gems lead the man deeper into the cave for further exploration. After all, greed is alive and well, and this man is drawn down these glimmering paths by his own curiosity and his own deadly sin. Walking for what seems like miles, following the sound of running water, he enjoys his surroundings. Enjoyment soon fades and greed is soon forgotten, however, when a creature rises up and a forked tongue begins to spit words that no Modern Day Man has ever heard before. This is the Serpent. That snake from the famous Garden that played home to the birth of Mankind. Oddly enough, the creature states that all he wants is company; he wants the man to take a seat and listen to the real truth behind the stories that the Bible made famous.

Readers find out early on, through the first tale told by the Serpent of Man, Woman, and the Garden, that he was not actually at fault. He states that the blame lies solely on Woman for what was done there; the curse for her blasphemy being childbirth. We also find out that before the apple fell from the tree, so to speak, the Serpent was not the scaly creature that became synonymous with evil. He quite literally had limbs; limbs that were used at one time to cover Man and keep him safe. The Serpent tells of the Creator who withdrew his limbs and replaced them with scales – the punishment for his part played in the trauma of the Garden. He was bestowed with the body that would remind Mankind for all time that he was the evildoer...from the very beginning.

The Serpent will answer this man’s questions, usually with sarcasm and a quick flick of the tongue, throughout this tale. He will lead this man through various times on Earth, where he watched humans battle, make rules, create laws, alter the land, and transform their beliefs to either accept change, or banish it by dangling the transgressors of these “sins” at the end of ropes.

The people in the Serpent’s tales have nicknames, from “The Variable” to the “Drawn Forth Son” to the “Beloved.” But along with these odd introductions, he also places them in well-known settings that allow readers to solve the mystery of who these people are. Such as, the Moon City that fell in battle when an army simply circled its high walls...Jericho, perhaps?

The Serpent goes every which way as he describes his love, anger, allegiance, or hatred he had during all of these times and with all of these people. And when it comes to the Creator and the master of evil known to the world as Satan, readers will find the snake’s beliefs even more interesting. So...is the Serpent telling the ultimate truth, or is he simply a wolf in reptilian clothing? It is for you to read and decide.

When it comes to two subjects, religion and politics, books can be highly difficult to review. They are the two subjects that all out there wish to be judges and juries about, no matter if they are created in the world of fiction or non. When it comes to this first novel by author J. Rutledge, this can be said: A book speaking of religion from this slithery point of view has not been written. It is at times great fun, imaginative and thrilling; other times, such as when the Serpent uses language that makes him sound like a high school bully rather than the educated creature he is 99% of the time, can cause the reader to doubt the intelligent character.

Quill says: This is a good book taking on the highly debated and highly believed stories of the “Good Book,” with passion, intelligence, and humor.

For more information on Truth and the Serpent, please visit the author's Facebook page.

#BookReview - A Little Bit of Grace

A Little Bit of Grace

By: Phoebe Fox
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: January 2018
Review By: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: November 2017

Grace and Brian run an estate law firm that they inherited from their parents. The practice has been in their family for multiple generations. Since they grew up together, the two quickly become best friends. They spent countless hours together growing up. Their families even lived a couple houses away from each other. After graduation, Grace and Brian went to two different colleges.

During their time at college, although they were still friends, their friendship was a little different. Having grown up with each other, Grace developed feelings for Brian. While he was at college, Brian did date other people. During their senior year, he even brought a girl named Angelica home for their Thanksgiving break. Although it was a little difficult for Grace to handle at the time, after graduation when the two moved back to work at their family’s firm, Angelica was long gone. Things changed after they both moved back home. Brian and Grace began to get closer again. After multiple dates, the two eventually got married.

Although they had a good marriage, they did have some obstacles that they had to get over. After 10 years, the two ultimately decided to get a divorce. Throughout the divorce, the two remained civil. Since Grace and Brian were living in his parent’s old house, after the divorce, Grace decided to move back in with her mother, a couple houses away. Even after the divorce they still remained friends and continued working in the family law firm together. Shortly after moving back home, Grace’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After her mother passed away, it was hard on Grace since she had no family except Brian around her.

One day while Grace was at the practice, Brain asked if they could meet up after work. Grace, still not fully over Brian, agreed. When the doorbell rang, she had no idea that her life was going to completely change. When Grace answered the door, it was Brian and Angelica. Grace, still remembering who she was, reluctantly let them in. Instead of Brian coming over to try to reconcile with Grace, he was coming over to tell Grace that he had moved on and that Angelica was moving to Sugarberry to be with him.

Grace was stunned and knew she had to get away. While Grace was sitting there thinking about everything that had happened, she remembered a postcard that had arrived, addressed to her mother. The postcard was written for her mother, but Grace had no idea who wrote it. The writer asked for Grace’s mother Patricia to come visit. Grace, seeing this as a potential getaway, dialed the number. When the person picked up, Grace began explaining the postcard and a little about her mother. It turns out, that the person Grace was talking to was her mother’s aunt Millie. Although Grace had never met her, she decides that going to Florida and meeting her would be a nice way to get away from Brian.

Grace soon leaves to go to Florida to meet her aunt. Although she is excited to get away, she has so many questions. Who is this mysterious person and why hasn’t anyone in her family ever mentioned her before? If she really is her aunt, what happened that caused everyone to forget about her? Grace, although wanting to know the answers, was reluctant to learn the truth. She soon realizes that her little getaway wasn’t just for her to do some soul searching, but to discover decades old family history.

A Little Bit of Grace is a great book that is very well written and not at all a typical women's fiction title. There are so many things going on that people can really connect to, from break-ups, to divorce, moving on and various family issues. Although there is something for everyone to connect to, it does keep you guessing. It leaves you wondering what was so bad that someone could completely disown their own family. Once you find out, although it is a controversial topic, it leaves you wondering what would you do. This book is a wonderful read and definitely gets you thinking.

Quill says: This is a great heartfelt book that will definitely get you thinking.

#BookReview - Ralphie, Always Loved

Ralphie, Always Loved

By: Andrea Yerramilli
Illustrated by: Samantha Van Riet
Publisher: About Something Good, LLC
Publication Date: October 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9987601-0-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 17, 2017

It’s a rare occurrence when a book comes along that not only teaches a lesson and gives children something to truly enjoy, but also fills the heart with love. This is that book.

Readers meet Ralphie when he is a pup, helping the lovely angels paint the white puffy clouds that will decorate the sky. One day, God picks Ralphie up, draws a white heart on his chest, and tells him that Ralphie is not only loved, but also…he is love. It is on this day that Ralphie comes down from the heavens and is born.

A journey commences where Ralphie must go through some confusion before finding the couple that he will love forever. Then, as time moves forward, he must learn obedience, be educated on what a child is and how great they can be – especially when throwing food from the high chair for the pup to enjoy. Ralphie also meets an older black dog that will be his sibling, and he then ages gracefully with friends and loved ones all around.

The illustrations are adorable and the words are kind, loving and filled with emotion. In addition, the little red “gifts” that come with the book are a whole lot of fun. Here, however, is why this reviewer believes Ralphie is a book that moves from the category of lovely to award-winning:
As a mother (and now new grandmother) who had a big black dog who I loved with all my heart for 12 years, Ralphie brought back the good times when that beloved dog of mine (Reuben) was a constant friend and companion in my life. Now, I watch my granddaughter in a high chair throw food on the ground to a new dog by the name of Chloe, as she smiles wide and screams “Woof! Woof!” while the food flies. I have always believed that my dear Reuben embarked on a journey “home” when he left this earth, and that I will meet up with him again one day. It is a fact that the love, respect, admiration, and kindness dogs bring to our lives is something that goes beyond the norm; they are truly a gift from Heaven, and this author/illustrator team has put on paper what dog owners everywhere feel with all their hearts.

It is important to note that the publisher of this book, About Something Good, was created to curate, inspire, and share goodness in the world. As opposed to the many negative words and images that surround us on a daily basis in the media, ASG focuses on the beauty that is life. (www.aboutsomethinggood.com) It will be interesting to see the creations that come from this particular house in the future.

Quill says: You need to jump on board with the many other passengers out there who, I am quite sure, have already fallen absolutely in love with Ralphie!

#BookReview - Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn

Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn: Enriching Your Life by Viewing It Through The Eyes of a Child

By: Allen Klein
Publisher: Viva Editions
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-1632280534
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: November 17, 2017

“Pretty much all the honest truth telling there is in the world is done by children.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes SR.

Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn uncovers the secret to living a happier, more joyful life. Each chapter reveals a different secret along with a corresponding quote and illustration. Not only does this show the reader the purpose of the following chapter but it is easier to scan through and find the right secret for the right situation.

Within each chapter, stories and examples are told that pertain to the secret as well as a section called "Through the Eyes of a Child" that provides jokes and other fun tidbits to share with others. For example, “Why did the raisin go to the dance with a prune? Because he couldn't get a date!” While some may seem corny, they are sure to make you smile and share with those around you.
Each chapter ends with a section titled "Grow Down," where practical tips and tricks are offered to help you get in touch with the child within. With suggestions from finding ways to be fully present and experiencing everything as if it were the first time to having more fun and brightening up a stressful situation, these 18 secrets will give you a fresh outlook on this sometimes daunting experience called life.

There's something sweet about remembering the way things were as a child. While you may not remember specific incidences it's easy to think about how much simpler times were back then. It's pretty often I find myself wishing things were so simple again, and truly it's often because we lose the child in us. This book helps put us back in touch with who we once were. I think this book was sweet and a nice reminder of what we miss when we grow up and become much too busy in our own worlds. If you get the chance to pick up this book, do it. Your inner child and tired, overwhelmed self will thank you for it.

Quill says: Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn is a cute book to help remind you to stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interview with Celebrity Impersonator Rich Little

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with celebrity impersonator Rich Little about his new book People I've Known and Been: Little by Little

FQ: You note that one of the things that separated your impersonations from others was that you came up with a "rapid fire" method of going from one impersonation to another. Would you explain this to our readers? Was this an intentional method, taking months (years?) of practice?

LITTLE: I've always had the ability to switch from one person to another. Most of the people before me used to turn around, get into character and then turn back to the audience. I didn't need to do this.

FQ: Did your parents support your career choice before you "made it big," and were they impressed when you made it to "The Judy Garland Show"?

Rich Little with Judy Garland

LITTLE: My father passed at the time. My mother was very supportive, but she was more interested in what I was going to wear during the show.

FQ: I absolutely loved the Jack Benny/NBC Chicken Soup story. What was going through your mind when that was happening?

LITTLE: Jack was very finicky. He was more interested in the little things in life, like food and the weather, than he was in his career. I was just happy to be in his company. He was not a stingy man. In real life, he was very generous.

FQ: You mention in your book how generous Alan Ladd was to you and your brother, and how Richard Todd had no time for two kids who wanted his autograph. When you've had a long day and just want to relax, but a fan comes up for just one more autograph, does that day so long ago with Mr. Ladd keep you going?

LITTLE: Always be nice to your fans, even if you're not in a good mood. It means a lot to them, and I never forget that they're the reason for my success. To be fair, Richard Todd might not have even known that I was out in the hallway waiting. That may have come from his manager.

FQ: It was so enjoyable to read about celebrities who lived up to their "nice" image. Was there a celebrity who enjoyed such a reputation but who you found to be less than what their image projected?

Rich Little with George Burns

LITTLE: Paul Lynde was not the man everybody thought he was. He was very unhappy in his private life. His attitude off the set was not very good.

FQ: In your book, you talk about impersonating Richard Nixon - and the day you had to do the impersonation right in front of President Nixon. Would you tell our readers what that was like?

LITTLE: I don't think President Nixon knew what I was doing. He had no sense of humor. He wore the same dark suit for his whole career and never took the hanger out of it.

Rich Little with Johnny Carson

FQ: Was there ever a person who proved too difficult to impersonate? Somebody whose voice or mannerisms you just couldn't get right? Or, that you did get right, but it took longer than usual?

LITTLE: I could never do Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, or Michael Douglas. They were all great actors, but not very distinctive voices. If ever I could have done Marilyn Monroe, I would have jumped myself.

Rich Little with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart

FQ: In 1976, you starred in "The Rich Little Show" (not that somebody else would star in the show), a weekly television show. Was the pressure intense to put out a weekly show? And did your other appearances suffer because of it? Any fond memory of the show you'd like to share?

LITTLE: When you do a weekly television show, you're always in a hurry. Sometimes because of the time element, you're not completely happy. I liked working with Charlotte Ray, but I think my shaggy sheep dog Dudley stole the show. He was hoping for a spin off.

FQ: You have "hobnobbed" with both celebrities and politicians. Which do you prefer to hang around? Are both groups equally happy to have you impersonate them? (I realize this could be a vast generalization but thought it would be fun for our readers).

LITTLE: Politicians are more fun to impersonate because they think they're smarter than they are. When you make them say silly things, people like it. It was the same with my teachers.

FQ: Is having "Rich Little Drive" in Ottawa, Canada a highlight of your career?

LITTLE: No, it was not the highlight of my career - it was a dead end. But Paul Anka Drive was shorter.

FQ: You're quite active, currently appearing in Las Vegas. Would you share with our readers a little about your current show?

LITTLE: I'm now doing a show in The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. It's based on my career. I use film clips of the actual stars, and I show a lot of my art. I started drawing before I ever did impressions.

FQ: Mr. Little - I'd like to thank you for your time and for writing such a fun book that brought back so many fond memories of both movie stars I've adored for years, as well as watching your impersonations of them. Thank you for bringing so many smiles to so many faces over the years. - Ellen Feld

LITTLE: Thank you for your kind review. I'm very appreciative. Unfortunately, many of my friends have not read my book.They can't read.

To learn more about People I've Known and Been: Little by Little please read the review.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Lin Wilder @LinWilder

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Lin Wilder, author of Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching

FQ: Several years went by before you “remembered the promise made to” your friend regarding writing your personal spiritual journey. This came at a time when you experienced writer’s block while attempting to work on your next fiction novel. In retrospect, would you say the writer’s block was happenstance, or divine intervention? Explain.

WILDER: There is no doubt that what felt like writer’s block was instead a shove from the Holy Spirit. I say shove because I believe writer’s block to be a myth. If the words don’t flow, there is something going on...usually, fear. However, in this case, I was eager to begin on the revisions for my 3rd novel, I had gotten over the initial hemorrhaging from the editor’s very critical review and was ready to work. By nature, I’m a perfectionist. And can be obsessive about deadlines. The fall deadline loomed in front of me. The fact that this was taking place during Lent finally dawned on me. And I began to pray...ask for help. It was then that I remembered the promise. And then the mental version of...”Oh no, you have got to be kidding, really?” hit like a ton of bricks.

FQ: In chapter four you state, “most of my listeners have been lifelong Catholics or Christians and have not experienced living life without faith.” How do you define faith? Explain.

Author Lin Wilder
WILDER: St. Paul uses this definition: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” A far more poetic definition than the one I used to use. During the years when I was invited to speak to Catholic audiences about my conversion, I would use the ground I stood on as an analogy. Early in the talk, I’d stomp my foot very hard on the floor (It worked best if standing on an uncarpeted one.) Without fail the echo woke up my listeners. Once I had their attention, I said, “life without faith is like living without gravity. We float in the air without boundaries, all things are permissible.” Quoting Dostoevsky.

FQ: How do you maintain a balance between Jesus as your friend and a healthy fear of God, or is such a balance even necessary?

WILDER: What a great question!

Early in the book, I quote a Legionary of Christ priest who opens the weekend retreat with this prayer. “I pray that if Jesus Christ is not now your best friend, that by Sunday night, He will be.” And then I write about the terror evoked by that comment. That terror I felt is, of course, an unhealthy fear. But facing it and the darkness in us is an essential first step in establishing a friendship with the three persons of God. Over time, the fear evolves and becomes what the writers of the Old Testament had in mind with the phrase, “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” A fear comprised of love, fervent desire to please, to obey.

FQ: You mention that you personally embrace the Roman Catholic’s stance on abortion. In your public lectures, how do you address hard questions, such as impregnation as a result of incest and rape?

WILDER: I cannot speak to those questions because I have not experienced any of those things. I can speak about abortion because I had one. Did it despite knowing I was killing a baby. Yes, I believe in the stance of the Catholic Church on these things, including contraception. To be a Catholic means that I obey the Church’s teaching in all things. However, what all too frequently gets lost in the polemics of ideology is the reality in which a person chooses sin...knowingly because they feel they must. Over ten years ago, I had a conversation with a priest I believed should be my spiritual director. But I did not know him. Looking back, it is clear that I was testing him.

Fully aware of the Church’s teaching on contraception and of my fear that were I of child-bearing age, I could not comply with it, I asked the priest what he would do if I came to talk with him about my desire to use contraceptives at thirty- something years of age, “What would he tell me?”
He answered that his job as a priest was to make sure that I understood the teaching of the church and the reasons behind it. But that my decision was between me and God. Indeed.

What isn’t understood by those looking in at the Catholic Church is that we know we’re sinners, that is why we are there. But these ideological arguments dissolve into silly divisions and labels and blur the truth. Most of us have no idea of what we would do until faced with the decision, decisions of consequence like abortion and contraception. Only then do we really think about it, because we must.
In a way, these ‘issues’ are kind of like the gun control argument. Until I listened to a good friend describe her experience with two men breaking into her apartment one night, I believed that no one should have a gun. In lurid detail, my friend described that night. Each man took his turn with her, over and over. Knowing that her two little boys were asleep in their room, she was unable to scream for help. My anti-gun control ideology died during her horrific tale. Ever since I have owned a hand gun-just in case.

FQ: You describe three significant encounters with the Holy Spirit in the form of a brilliant light. Have you had any further encounters since the publication of Finding the Narrow Path? And if so, explain.

WILDER: Since then there have been no visual images. But not infrequently what St. Teresa of Avila terms locutions or words heard in my psyche, fully formed. The most dramatic was several years ago while exercising on my Precor in my garage. A command to spend time at a mission outside Tijuana with a priest friend. The internal argument was somewhat lengthy because each time I have visited Mexico as a tourist, I got progressively sicker. You know, the kind of illness that makes you afraid that you won’t die? But the ‘voice’ was insistent. I went. More recently, this last April, I was walking with my dogs saying the Rosary. And was lingering on the interchange between Pontius Pilate and Christ where Pilate asks, “What is truth?” Unlike all the homilists I’ve heard speak about this interaction, I’ve never thought his question sophistry. Instead, I’ve identified with the guy. And for the thousandth time since I learned about Pilate, stuck there. And heard, “Your next book will be about Claudia.” Again, the inner argument, “What? That’s historical fiction! I don’t write historical fiction!” I heard, “The title is, I, Claudia.”

FQ: A priest remarked to you, “We are redeemed, sinners. Bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.” I find your response interesting: “I find there are two kinds of Catholics. The first type emphasizes the redeemed part of that equation by ignoring sin, the other, usually converts, like you [the priest], focus on the sinner side of that equation.” Do you believe this type of thinking is limited to just Catholics?

WILDER: No, probably not. I suspect all converted Christians feel the weight of their former sins far more than do those who have lived their lives – or tried to- according to the commandments.

FQ: One aspect that you briefly cover is the area of “forgiveness.” What importance would you say forgiveness has in one’s life as he or she is searching for spiritual truth?

WILDER: Forgiveness is imperative. We are incapable of movement without it. Learning to love ourselves begins there, forgiving ourselves. Just looking around shows us that despite all the medications, increasingly sophisticated ways to distract ourselves, many of us – perhaps most - dislike, maybe hate ourselves. That 2nd commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourselves,” is so weighty. But we focus on the first part. The movie, The Shack brilliantly demonstrates the strange paradox that our inability to forgive another rests on our inabiltity to forgive ourselves.

FQ: What one piece of advice would you give to a person to get him or her started in their search for spiritual truth?

WILDER: Wow. I guess it would be one phrase, admit the need for it...something more, Someone greater. Maybe on your knees somewhere. Then write it down. Then don’t stop until you get there.

FQ: Do you have any writing projects in the works?

WILDER: Yes, I am working with my editors on the revisions for the 4th novel in the Dr. Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, Malthus Revisited: The Cup of Wrath. The book will be released within the next several weeks.

FQ: Do you foresee writing any other nonfictional works?

WILDER: Yes. I write non-fiction articles weekly at my linwilder.com blog and publish articles regularly at Catholic365.com. Occasionally I also do guest blog posts. I like non-fiction, it is lots easier than fiction!

To learn more about Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching please read the review.

Monday, November 13, 2017

#AuthorInterview with J. Michael Dolan @dolan1951

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with J. Michael Dolan, author of The Trumpets of Jericho

FQ: When it comes to a book as large as this one, readers are always interested in knowing how you did the incredible amount of research to bring it to fruition. Can you tell us a bit about the process of gathering the information?

DOLAN: You could say I’ve been researching the Holocaust my whole life. Even as a child I was reading adult books about it, and continue to be fascinated by the most monstrous crime ever committed.

For my own book I spent many an hour in the library of the Holocaust Museum Houston, filling notebooks by day from works in the reference section, taking home what books I was allowed to, and buying others online. 80% of my material came from these, the rest from the Internet and even a few movies. Most of that 80% ended up in my notes, or when whole pages were called for I’d scan them on a copy machine. As if all that wasn’t laborious enough, I had to organize what amounted to a small mountain of data so I could find what I needed when I needed it.

FQ: What first brought about your fascination with this particular subject?

DOLAN: I was in the HMH about six years ago strolling the exhibits when I came upon one honoring the young Jewish heroine Roza Robota. That was my introduction to both her and the 1944 revolt at Auschwitz she played so big a part in. Intrigued, I was soon investigating the latter, only to discover to my surprise it lacked the book it deserved. Inside of a week I began correcting that woeful state of affairs.

FQ: After reading your novel, I must say I’m amazed the name Roza Robota is not more well known. Do you have any idea why that is? Have you come across any other books that even touched on her or the revolt?

DOLAN: Touched on them, yes, but little more than that. Mine is the first devoted in its entirety to the Auschwitz uprising. As for Roza and the general public’s unfamiliarity with her, I believe it but a reflection of not only that surrounding the Holocaust but history in general. I mean, save for Spielberg and their local cineplex, how many people would know who Oskar Schindler was? It’s a phenomenon, I’m afraid, emblematic of the times: readers of serious writing are becoming harder to find, none more than those with an interest in history. Sad, very sad. Dangerous, too. The written word is and always has been a bulwark against tyranny. Ask Orwell.

Author J. Michael Dolan
FQ: Of all the amazing characters in The Trumpets of Jericho, do you have a favorite, a man or woman you most admire?

DOLAN: Roza and her best friend Noah Zabludowicz, of course, rank at the top of my pantheon of the book’s heroes, but I must admit to having a soft spot for Kapo Kaminski, one of the architects of the rebellion and de facto leader of the Sonderkommando, those mainly Jewish wretches forced to work the crematoria. As the few survivors who knew him have all attested to, beneath the man’s rough, irascible, bulldog exterior beat a heart as big as they come.

No prisoner did more to try to ease the suffering around him, and given his high place in the inmate pecking order, with considerable success. How much do I admire this Kaminski? His granddaughter in Israel told me his name came up 247 times in my novel.

FQ: Writing the roles of the evil characters in the book must certainly have taken a toll on you. Was there a way you were able to “step away” from the project when need be? How did you handle all the scenes of darkness you had to put on paper?

DOLAN: The hardest part here was putting myself inside the heads of those evil characters you mention, seeing things through their eyes—in essence becoming them for a while to make them more real to the reader. There were long stretches where I had to say some loathsome things, “perform” loathsome deeds, and you’re right: it wasn’t easy having to crawl inside the skin of a baby-killing mass murderer.

Then again, the vast majority of my book’s characters are sympathetic to the extreme, and I always had them and their nobility to offset the barbarity of those others. I can only imagine the weirdness Brett Easton Ellis must have gone through while writing American Psycho. I don’t think I would have wanted to be around him then.

FQ: Apart from the Holocaust, are there any other periods/locations/historical events that might interest you enough to be grist for a future novel? What can your readers look forward to down the road?

DOLAN: As a matter of fact, I’m researching a novel now that has nothing to do with the Holocaust yet remains rooted in the fertile ground of Jewish history. It’s set in the Roman-occupied Palestine of the 1st century A.D., and is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Beyond that, though, other than telling you I anticipate it provoking no end of controversy, I’d rather keep its narrator and plot secret for the present (you’ll have to pardon my paranoia) for fear of some other author stealing the idea. And no, that narrator isn’t who you might be thinking it is—but close.

FQ: The world, unfortunately, seems to be in a constant state of turmoil these days. After taking on a subject that is, for lack of a more fitting term, nightmarish, do you see a way in which the writer can maybe help to change things: open minds somehow and at least lessen the negativity that’s out there?

DOLAN: I think Holocaust books, fiction and nonfiction, are particularly valuable in this respect, the more nightmarish the better. Based as they are on an event that actually happened as opposed to, say, some writer’s dystopian invention gives the agenda underlying them that much more credibility. And to me, what with the racism that seems to have found renewed vigor in not only this country but others, that agenda should be this: to show people how easily the tiniest flame of prejudice can grow into a forest fire of deadly hate and persecution.

FQ: Do you believe your book, focusing as it does on this particular event, might be therapeutic to people, make them more tolerant, understanding?

DOLAN: See my answer to the previous question. I will add that works like Trumpets aren’t going to change the perceptions of any die-hard racists, but might very well help prevent the ordinary citizen from succumbing to extremism.

FQ: Readers love to know what “A Writing Day in the Life of ___________” is all about. Do you have a certain time set aside to write, a certain way of writing, in a certain location? Are you one who needs complete silence or perhaps prefers music, etc., in the background? What does a J. Michael Dolan writing day consist of?

DOLAN: I’ll try to keep this brief, as I honestly don’t see it fascinating anyone other than my mother. Once I start actually writing the novel, the following applies seven days a week (insofar as that’s possible) until the first draft is done:

Coffee in the morning to wake up, retiring to my office where, yes, I require total silence, editing what I wrote the day before to get back into the flow of things, then working all day only breaking for meals. After dinner I’ll review what I wrote earlier and either edit or add to it for a while, then make every effort for the rest of the evening (all too often unsuccessfully) to put it out of my mind and stop brooding over the damn thing.

Once that first draft is done, and under the same regimen, I can tack on another six months or more for rewrites. All of which, obviously, translates to me having no life when in the death grip of the Muse. And, I like to think, accounts for why I’m no longer married. Ah, well... “C’est la vie, c’est la guerre,” said the Frenchman to the judge at his divorce hearing.

FQ: Is there a way, in your eyes, to make sure a new Holocaust doesn’t occur? Do you think we’ll ever be free of the possibility of another?

DOLAN: Another Holocaust? Unlikely, not to the extent the Nazis perpetrated it anyway. Theirs was a program of genocide unprecedented in history, a meticulously planned, rigorously systematic, industrialized form of mass murder with the full power of a modern European state behind it. It would take a very special and extreme set of circumstances for anything approaching it to be repeated.

On the other hand, variations of it can all too readily crop up, have cropped up, in fact, both before and after the Third Reich: the Turks’ slaughter of their Armenian minority in the 1920’s, that against the Ibo peoples of Nigeria during the Biafran tragedy of the 1960’s, and more recently the wholesale massacres in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. Something of a lesser sort even happened right here in America, the internment camps in WWII California and Arizona, in which U.S. citizens of Japanese origin—men, women, and children—were incarcerated for years in frightful conditions. These weren’t death camps, but were harsh and racially motivated.

What can you, I, or anyone do to make sure genocide doesn’t occur again? The question should be, What are we going to do, how are we going to fight it, who do we hold responsible when it does?

To learn more about The Trumpets of Jericho please read the review.