“If Jesus and Darwin teamed up to write a novel it would have been Eden Found.” This is a quote I use a lot when describing my novel. The reason for this is because in my novel the Bible’s Garden of Eden exists next to a world called ‘Valdar’ (survi‘val’ and ‘Dar’win), a world formed from evolution. Eden Found takes one of humanities greatest stories, the Garden of Eden, and uses that premise to create a controversial battle of ideologies between evolution and creation, sin and sinlessness, Heaven and Hell, and human nature and Mother Nature. It is fast paced, action packed, thought provoking, and sensual.
What genre/genres does your book fall under?
Action/adventure, religious, fantasy
Is this book part of a series?
It is the first in a trilogy
What was the inspiration behind your book?
Eden Found started when I had the thought: Jesus is the story of the one sinless man in a world full of sinners. But what if the story was reversed and it was the one sinner in a world of sinless people? I concluded that the best context for that plot was the Garden of Eden.
The title “Eden Found” is a play off of the title of John Milton’s 1667 epic poem “Paradise Lost,” which is a story about Lucifer getting kicked out of heaven and Adam and Eve getting kicked out of Eden and how much they all three lost as a result. But the title of my book is “Eden Found” and not “Eden Lost” because my novel explores the idea that maybe Eden was better after forbidden fruit was eaten than before.
Also, I wrote Eden Found because I have a crush on Eve (whether she existed or not) and I wanted to write a book where she was one of the main characters.
This book is grounded in my experience having a degree in theology and my open-mindedness towards evolution.
What led you into writing? Was it a lifelong ambition, or the result of some type of turning point in your life?
During college I first had the dream to write books, but I wasn’t very confident in my ability. Then after college I spent a year traveling the world as the personal assistant to an author. Seeing that author’s writing process, the daily discipline he had, demystified book writing for me and gave me the confidence to pursue this dream. One evening when I Was 25 I spent about an hour writing out as many questions that I could think of that I figured I would never get the answer with anything near certainty to in my lifetime (This would be questions like ‘is there an afterlife? Do aliens exist? Why are women so hard to figure out?’) At the end of that hour I had a list of about 50 questions. Those questions drive my story ideas. The unanswered questions of life are what consume my thinking and they are where most of my creative writing springs from.
So far, what has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
It would be too obvious to say signing my contract for my first novel. The greatest moment would probably be when, after months of writing the first draft of my first novel, things began to click and I began to realize I can do this. Yes, I will always be learning and trying to improve my craft, but I concluded that writing books could actually be my craft.
Are you self-published or published through a small-press? Can you tell our readers what led up to that and your publishing experience?
I am published through a small press called “Black Rose Writing” out of Texas. My publishing experience, like many writers trying to get started, was very painful. Over the course of four years my three finished manuscripts received over 300 rejections from publishers and literary agents. Religious publishers thought I was too secular and secular publishers thought I was too religious. But mostly it was because I was a complete unknown and they weren’t willing to take the risk. I definitely suffered through some bouts of depression and despair. I kept a list of dozens of famous authors and the number of rejections they went through at the beginning of their career to help keep myself encouraged and persistent. Then, finally, this past June, Black Rose Writing gave me the news I’d dreamt of for four years: we want to publish your book.
What are you working on now?
The sequel to Eden Found.
Also, I have finished a manuscript called “The God-fearing Atheist”. Its premise is a man born with multiple personality disorder and as he grows up one personality becomes a believer in God and the other becomes an atheist. In chapter one they die. Chapter two is their court case outside the gates of heaven: how does a soul that has within it both a believer and an unbeliever to be judge?
The Ghost of Democracy: The White House is haunted and it only haunts the new president, Joshua Land. President Land’s agenda is ‘less government at home, more democracy abroad.’ The ghosts in the White House have a different agenda for him.
Pornhibition: a pastor recruits a computer programmer from his congregation to start hacking into porn sites and taking them down. The pastor recruits more and more programmers from other churches and his underground porn police seeks to take down all of internet porn. But the porn producers will not go without a fight.
Collection of short horror stories: one of the stories is a haunted house story, but it is not a haunted house for humans, but instead it is a house that ghosts are afraid to enter.
In your own words, please tell us about yourself.
I grew up a small town country boy from central Ohio. My parents divorced when I was one. I lived with my mom Monday through Friday and my dad on the weekends. I played football, basketball, and baseball all throughout school. I worked 8 years as a lion and tiger trainer (if you want footage, Youtube “lions, and tigers, and Lawson, Oh my”). I loved every minute of that job but, as the close calls piled up, I began to conclude that if I continued on that career course that my days were probably numbered, just like Roy in Vegas and Steve Irwin. I went to college to become a preacher. I loved being on the stage in front of big crowds. During my junior year of college I did battle with testicular cancer. Obviously, I survived it, but not before I had to take a casualty in the form of my right testicle. No shame in it, but a whole lot of funny jokes with my family and friends and basically anybody who I feel like telling a one nut joke to.
After college I passed on an offer to move to Vegas and be a lion and tiger trainer for Siegfried and Roy and instead spent a year traveling all over North America, Europe and parts of the Middle East as the personal assistant to an author and preacher named Josh McDowell. That year made me a much more open-minded person and caused me to rethink my career path. I tried to join the military but they rejected me because of cancer. So I went to grad school and earned a masters in global politics. I lived in D.C. for six months working with some European embassies. Then I wrote my first book, a nonfiction book called “Christian Agnostic: The Doubt Jesus Requires His Followers to Have”. Then, after five years of rejection, the military finally let me in and I became an officer in the army reserves.
My family thinks I am a very weird person and they are right. I think being weird is a prerequisite for writing novels. As far as love, I’m pretty sure I’m cursed. Maybe a lucrative writing career will lift that curse. But without a love life I have had a lot of time to write many manuscripts, a couple of movie scripts, and have another fifteen novels outlined.
I struggle to focus on the menial tasks of being human like yard work, car maintenance, and balancing my check book.
What are some of your likes and dislikes?
Three things I can’t stand: laziness, lying to cover one’s own rear-end, and close-mindedness. I hate having to sleep. That’s six hours I could be writing. I love going to the movies, running on trails in the woods, animals (the more wild the better), traveling, obviously reading, making fun of politicians, the new pope, and my family. I have a crush on Natalie Portman, Jennifer Connolly, and Cate Blanchet.
I can’t stand the Kardashians and everything they stand for.
How can readers connect with you?
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know?
Before I had cancer I had gone seven years without drinking pop and three years without eating candy or deserts of any kind. I guess a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always pay off, or maybe I would have had cancer worse if I had not been taking care of myself. I still don’t know which is truer. Now, I don’t mind occasionally eating a pint of butter pecan ice cream or the occasional Big Mac. Life’s short, gotta eat unhealthy sometimes.
If there was one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?
It is only honorable to stand up for what you believe in if your beliefs are honorable. Challenge your own beliefs more than you challenge everybody else’s beliefs. That might do more for world peace than almost anything else.
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