1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Vocationally I am a writer, first and foremost. I am also an adjunct professor at two universities (one in the U.S. and one in Canada), teaching both history and religious studies. I enjoys traveling, since history is one of my true passions. I enjoys visiting famous places that hold the spirit of the past. Each place has millions of stories, and I want to imagine them all.
I have written extensively for magazines and newspapers throughout my career, and I have also published some non-fiction work related to my teaching. I live in Michigan with my wife and two children.
2) How did you get into writing?
When I was ten years old I was not a great student. I was disinterested. All I wanted to do was play sports. Sitting in class was very difficult for me. One day my teacher, Mr. Johnston, asked us to write a poem. Something clicked. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I found it easy and very natural. While other students were complaining and struggling with the assignment (even the good students), I wrote several poems rather than the single poem that was assigned. To my surprise, I received praise – in school. That had never happened. It changed the entire direction of my life. I started writing and I couldn’t stop. I had some poems published in the newspaper, and from there I branched out into short story writing, and eventually novels. I write non-fiction also. I’ve published articles in History Magazine, Encompass and others. I’ve written some articles and one book relating to my “day job” as a professor as well. Fiction, however, is my real passion. I have so many stories inside me. I just really want to share them with people.
3) What inspired you to write your book?
I get inspiration from history and from literature. I also get inspiration from nature and from my faith. I guess I get it from my life. I don’t shut off any part of my experiences from offering up a story that might entertain and inspire someone. I’m human, and my experiences are relevant to other humans. If I can live them, and then communicate them within the context of an entertaining series of events, then I’m living my purpose by living my life.
4) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I’ve had this question before, and I found it a little tough to answer because the message of The Order is going to be a bit different for each reader. We’re not all robots acting off of the same software. We all have different needs, and we’ll all latch on to different stories within the story. If I had to narrow it down to one universal theme it would probably be truth. Truth is true, even if its bigger than we able to conceive of, as Brother Jan discovers when he is forced to confront truths he neither sought, nor wanted. Truth is true, even if our own ignorance (not stupidity – an important distinction) does not allow us to see it just yet. Truth is true, even if it does not appear to serve our purposes – and that’s important because truth does not bend to purpose, purpose must respond to truth and then decide if it will bend or not. Truth is not a tyrant. It requires a response, but it does not require agreement. Our response can be to reject it and live a constructed truth that is not real, but only our perception, or it can conform and live within the truth and thrive within the power of something that is bigger than ourselves. Some say that perception is reality, but that’s not exactly accurate. Perception is our narrow view of a very broad reality, but if I perceive gravity to be a myth, this can create some real challenges for me when I try and put my perception to the test. Reality – “truth” cannot be only personal or it loses its power to unite and to connect. The Order highlights the age-old human struggle to know what is true, and then to react to the truth when we find it. No one has to accept the truth. The truth is often extremely uncomfortable. The truth within us – our real fears, prejudices, insecurities; these are true whether we deal with them or not. These are true whether we accept them or not. We can live outside of those truths and never escape the nagging weight upon our souls, or we can confront them and live free in the knowledge of our own imperfection and vulnerability. The choice of our reaction to truth is very personal, and truth is the overarching reality that exposes who we are personally. So, yes, truth is what the characters in this book are in search of, and it is what they must confront and react to. I suppose my hope would be that this story will entertain, because it is, after all, a work of fiction, and not a metaphysical treatise, but I also hope that it will generate some deep thoughts about what it means to get what we want, or to not get what we want, and to recognize that truth is above both scenarios. I hope this because we will all fail to get what we want sometimes, and that can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be devastating. There is truth within the disappointment that can bear fruit eventually – if we choose to react to the truth and not reject it because of our pain.
5) What drew you into this particular genre?
History. I love history. It is one of my greatest passions. To know what happened, and the repercussions – that transports me to another place and I can imagine the emotions and the struggles. History answers so many questions about why we are here, and where we might end up. Billions of people have lived and died, and they all had real stories. All those lives that have gone before, and many of them are directly responsible for the fact that I even exist. There are also so many gray areas which, as a writer, are amazing. I get to ask, “What if”, and then delve in and create a story where only murky details had once existed. For a fiction writer, what could be better?
6) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
My favorite character is Sigurd. He doesn’t play a huge role, but he’s the man I wish I could be. I can’t say much about him, but I found myself wishing I could just sit with this man and talk to him for hours. I find myself wanting to talk about him now, but I really don’t want to give anything away.
7) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Probably Facebook, but really I haven’t been as active as I should be on any platform. That’s a mistake, I know, but I tend to find my nose stuck in books a lot, both for work and pleasure. I’m a writer, not a marketer, so that’s the part of the work I struggle with the most. I know that in today’s market you have to be a self-promoter. Publishers are doing less and less in this area, and more responsibility is being placed on the authors. This is where people like you, Anthony, become so important. We need reviewers who can help us do what needs to be done, but is (for me at least) pretty unnatural. I’m very thankful that you’ve give me this opportunity to share a bit about my book with your readers.
8) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
If you love writing, then write. You don’t have to be published to be a writer. Writing is a gift, and if you love it then do it. If, however, you want to be published, then you need to write and practice writing. You can write for the joy of it and not practice the craft of writing, but if you want to be published you need to practice the craft. You can have a unique style. I’m not saying you have to become Hemingway or Steinbeck, or Austen. You can have a unique voice, but your story still needs to have a plot. Your characters still need to be developed. There are certain things that a story must have, and if it doesn’t, getting it published is going to be a challenge. If you want writing to be your profession, then you need to do the work and be professional. You can still write for the joy of it, but you have to accept the grind of it as well. That doesn’t mean that you cannot ever flaunt convention. Many successful writers have. In the beginning, however, you need to prove that you can write a good story with all of the hallmarks of a skilled author. From there, more doors open. Above all – writers must have perseverance and thick skins. Your writing will not resonate with everyone. Some will not like your work, and they will be vocal about it. Learn from the critique. If it’s valid, use it as an education. If it isn’t valid, put it behind you. Don’t lose faith in your dream because someone else doesn’t like your work. I hate Picasso’s work. I prefer the impressionists. Does that mean that Picasso doesn’t have an audience? I think he did pretty well for himself. Find your story, let your passion for writing fuel you, accept valid criticism, reject bad criticism, and keep fighting until you’ve shared your stories with as many people as you can. If you’re really a writer – that’s why you’re here. Stories are how you will impact the world. Don’t quit.
9) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I have begun the prequel for The Order. I’m really excited about it. It details the story that is in the mysterious book found by Brother Jan. I don’t have a release date yet, but I’m hoping early in 2023 – January or February.