Interview with Glenn Kleier author of ~ The Knowledge of Good and Evil (August 2011).
Welcome Glenn! Let’s begin with a few questions about your recent book, its theme and your writing process.
How would you define your book’s genre for your readers? I'd classify it "spiritual suspense thriller," in that my books explore subjects of faith and morals.
Why write spiritual suspense thrillers? Why read them? Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, in America today you function under heavy Christian influence. However you view that, it effects your life on a personal level. Complicating matters is the fact that while all Christian denominations use the same bible, there's great inconsistency among their positions. Ideologies run the gamut from staunch fundamentalism to New Age liberalism, and it creates a lot of discord. If we're going to progress as a society, it's something we need to better understand. The genre of spiritual suspense offers both writer and reader a means to examine, and perhaps reconcile those differences.
What prompted you to write a novel about heaven and hell? Walk by a Christian church on a Sunday morning and you're apt to hear sermonizing about the rewards of heaven and damnations of hell. Vivid descriptions of horned devils vying for your soul; Seven Deadly Sins and their commensurate punishments; pearly gates and choirs of winged angels in a pastoral paradise, et al. Only one problem. The bible mentions none of that. Virtually no details of the afterlife beyond a few nondescript "heavenly mansions" and "eternal fires." In fact, most images of heaven and hell that people take for granted today have no basis whatsoever in the bible. I thought it might be fun to pull the rug back on all this and present a revamped perspective of the Great Beyond.
How did you find the process of writing a fictional story around heaven and hell? I spent six years researching the sources of afterlife theology that inform current thinking. The origins began 6,000 years ago with the ancient Egyptians and their Book of the Dead, moving forward through Mesopotamia/Gilgamesh, classical Greek and Roman mythology, the Judeo-Christian era and early Doctors of the Church, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohammed, on to contemporary Christian theologians. Out of that emerged a giant mosaic of heaven and hell that eventually resolved itself into the arc of the book.
As your second published novel, has the process for - The Knowledge of Good & Evil - been any easier? Yes, in the sense that I could work at it full time (unlike first book's catch-as-catch-can process). But it took a while to find a topic that excited me as much as the first book's, which had been incubating for some time. It meant I didn't begin the second with as much a running start.
Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why? I have several. I'm partial to the main character, Ian, the young ex-priest. Ian's a troubled man of strong convictions, integrity, faith and courage, beset by crippling flaws. He helps convey the book's points, often at great physical and psychological cost. Then there's Ian's fiancee, Angela. Smart, level-headed, pragmatic, loyal to a fault--and agnostic--a foil to Ian on many levels. And finally, I have soft spot for the irascible, jaded Zagan. Despite his evil nature, Zagan commands respect. And due to his circumstances he possesses surprising wisdom, which is revealed over the course of the story with irony, passion, even humor. My kind of guy.
Now a few questions for the writers in our audience. What advice would you give the aspiring writer? Pick a topic that's fresh and speaks to your soul, research it thoroughly, write in a succinct and clear voice, and don't give up. It's a crowded literary world out there, but if you've got something to say, persistence finds a way.
What about tips for the process of writing and getting their work published? Create a schedule and stick to it. Write, no matter how hard it is for you, even if you end up tossing it all the next day--the more you write, the better you'll get at it. Get an agent. Even in this age of self-publishing, most writers will benefit from the editorial eye and connections of a good agent (Writers Digest books, "Guide to Literary Agents" is a great source for matching your work to reps who handle your genre--a vital step. "Guide" also offers other salient tips).
Now for some silly fun for curious minds. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you write? All I require is some peace and quiet and lots of strong iced tea.
What book do you go back to re-read over and over? The one I'm currently writing. No matter how many times I re-read, I find ways to cut and improve.
What new cool thing have you learned recently? That the popularly accepted Higgs boson particle apparently doesn't exist. (Does stuff like this make me a nerd?)
Sorry Glenn, but we are thinking “yes”. So what’s in your fridge right now and what do you think that say about you? Lots of wholesome foods, fruits, veggies. Says I've got a great wife.
If you could attempt anything and know you wouldn’t fail, what would you do? Take a self-induced near-death-experience to the Other Side, see if it really exists.
If you were trapped in an elevator for four hours, who/what would you want with you? Bottle of Hendricks, bucket of ice, tonic water, bowl of cut limes, Kindle, iPod with Rolling Stones greatest hits.
Sounds wonderful, more like a party than a trap. So in your next life what/who do you want to come back as? As the son of one of my sons. I'd love to see how it all turns out (and payback would be fun!).
A premise for a novel we are thinking? Now for a bit more serious. What is your next project? Just a little tease would be wonderful. Since The Knowledge of Good & Evil is mid book in a trilogy, to be release 2-3-1, I guess I'd better get going on the sequel.
What is it that you’d like us to know about you? That I write with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.
Thank you Glenn it has been a pleasure working with you!
About Glenn Kleier: An English major intent on a career as a novelist, who upon graduation found no positions available for aspiring authors. Earning his living in an alternative field of fiction - advertising - he never lost his initial passion. After seven years working on the side, he produced The Last Day. Now, after many years of research and writing, he presents a second effort, the first in a trilogy, The Knowledge of Good & Evil. Kleier resides in Louisville, KY. Goodreads; Twitter; Website; Facebook.
About: The Knowledge of Good and Evil by Glenn Kleier US|UK|Canada. 416 pages: Tor Books; (July 19, 2011) ~ In 1968, theologian Father Louis Merton visited the ancient Dead City of Polonnaruwa, in Ceylon where it’s claimed he found a backdoor to the Afterlife. Years later, psychologist Angela Weber and her fiancé, Ian Baringer, are on the hunt for Merton’s long-lost journal and its door to the Afterlife. Together, they plunge into a global chase, pursued by a shadowy cult, dead bodies and destruction.
Thanks for reading!