WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION DRIVING THE STORY IN THUNDER OF HEAVEN?
Three things, really. First, there was the motivation common for all fiction writers: the desire to tell a good story. Here we have the second novel dealing with a futuristic view of the United States and the world, and featuring this unique Jordan family – Joshua the father, a genius defense technology inventor and former spy plane hero for the Air Force; the mother, Abigail, a brilliant lawyer with a string of victories in DC and New York courtrooms; daughter Deborah, a take-no-prisoners West Point grad (in the top tier of graduates); and son Cal, who has ditched his ambitions to pursue a career in art after a close encounter first-hand with an ugly terrorism incident (Edge of Apocalypse) and who decides instead to go to law school and to join his parents’ highly controversial Roundtable group (a clandestine outfit seeking to return sanity to a disintegrating America that has left its moral and legal moorings). Obviously, on the surface, not your average American family. Yet they struggle with the same things that we all do (Deb and Cal have their sibling rivalries – Josh and Abby have their marital spats and worry about the kids). Second, the book reflects our view of breaking events here and abroad. The things Tim and I are writing about, in some instances, are virtually coming to fruition faster than we can write! And third, we see use the prophetic Biblical narrative about the future of planet earth and every human being who lives here, as the stage setting for our narrative.
OVER THE COURSE OF WRITING IT, WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST DURING THE JOURNEY?
The relationship between Deborah and a handsome, cocky former pilot named Ethan who she first meets right in the middle of a mid-air crisis on a commercial jet. That relationship takes some twists and turns and I found myself in a bind – cheering for both the “home team” (Deborah) and the other side (Ethan) almost simultaneously as I worked on the novel. Life isn’t cut in square corners, and neither is their romantic destiny. Both of these characters have quite a future in the series.
WHAT PARTS WERE INSPIRED BY REAL-LIFE RESEARCH OR EXPERIENCE?
The subplot in the book where a radical form of environmentalism becomes part of an effort to establish global government is fact, not fiction. Just a few days ago I read that an author writing in the Scientific American has stated unambiguously that what is needed to police the environment is a “world government” with “enforcement powers” that include “radical solutions on the social side …” The reader will see that played out in Thunder of Heaven, and the dramatic consequences in Brink of Chaos (due for release in October 2012). Also the geopolitics are very authentic in terms of Russian naval and military expansion in a way that implicates Israel. The same is true about the “geological” information about the Middle East – but I had better stop there so I don’t spoil the ending. I have been to Israel many times as well as to its surrounding neighbors (Jordan, Egypt, Turkey) (though Tim’s trips to Israel outnumber mine several times over). I couldn’t help but place much of the novel’s action in actual locations that mean quite a lot to me – powerful memories – and those locales are stitched into the fabric of this story. And of course the Washington DC scenes are where I am walking, and working, all the time. Lastly, the nuclear threat, and the location in the Virginia countryside where some bad guys are assembling a nuke, is actually based on reports from a former KGB agent who defected to the U.S.
WHY DO YOU THINK STORY IS SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO COMMUNICATE TRUTH?
Jesus was a master storyteller. His parables contained real-life relevance in terms of characters and context, and carried a message of eternal truth. God is a master story teller. He could have dropped a theological textbook in our laps and told us to learn about Him through a purely analytical approach. But instead, God inspired the authors of 66 books of the Bible, which gives us, quite creatively, an unfolding story of heaven, earth, man, God, sin, redemption, and the future kingdom of Christ, from Genesis to Revelation. There are heroes, angels, demons, a Savior who walks among us as a pauper but is really a king – and then there is that whole big cast of ordinary, very flawed folks called prophets and apostles who end up doing the most extraordinary things when they are yielded to the Spirit of God. Can anyone imagine a more stunningly powerful story than that? Yet, as Lewis and Tolkien both reminded us – this is the archetypal story of all stories that just happens to be true.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I am working with Tim LaHaye on the 4th, and last, novel in our futuristic End series. I also have another writing project in the pipeline that I am not at liberty to talk about quite yet … and also some other ideas percolating as well.