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Interview: Michael J. Webb

When did you decide you wanted to write?
In my mother’s womb.  Just kidding.  I wrote poetry through high school and the first couple of years of college then tried my hand at short stories.  I soon realized that the stories I wanted to tell wouldn’t fit into either of those molds.  I started thinking about writing novels as a career in my late twenties, but didn’t begin working at the craft regularly until nineteen eighty-four.  I spent the next six years researching and writing a novel that was longer than Moby Dick, War and Peace, or Atlas Shrugged.  When I finished it, I proudly sent it off to an agent and received an eight page, single-spaced, typed rejection letter.  I had to pay this NY Agent a fee to read the darn thing, so the rejection letter cost me a little less than $100/page.  Anyway, that attempt at “The Great American Novel” eventually became a trilogy.  The first two books were published in the early nineties.  The third book has yet to see the light of day.  I’m in the process of issuing the entire trilogy as E-books, but that’s a story for another day, best told on a cold winter’s morning over a cup of hot Honduran coffee or Black tea from the Ukraine.
Oh, by the way, I still have the rejection letter, and no, I didn’t frame it.
Too long—just like my first attempt at a novel!

How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
Five and half fiction and one non-fiction written.  Three of the fiction have been
Published:  The Master’s Quilt and Balaam’s Error (new title The Nephilim Parchments) came out in the early 90’s.  My current supernatural thriller, The Oldest Enemy, which won a contest last fall sponsored by Risen Books (www.dndbooks.com), releases as an E-book October 1, 2012 and as a paperback October 15th.  My first non-fiction book, In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power and Saving the Soul came out in 2007.  Don Maass of the Donald Maass Agency in NY(http://www.maassagency.com/index.html) is my agent now, and my novel The Gathering Darkness is placed with him.  I’m working on the follow up story, The Devil’s Cauldron, which I hope to complete in about six months.  I’ve also started an outline for the next book, tentatively titled Ghost Hunter, a frightening and eye-opening twist on the current fascination with so-called “ghosts,” or spirits of the dead.

Can you tell us what you believe has had the greatest influence on your writing?
My Faith, and my relationship with the Holy Spirit.  I write to glorify God and to be a beacon of light in a steadily darkening world.  My hope is that not only those who already walk the path I chose almost thirty years ago will be blessed by what I write, but that those who are not yet on it will find something in the pages of my novels that pricks their souls and nudges them to inquire about the God who keeps covenant to a thousand generations.  The God whose love and mercy knows no bounds.   The God who boldly proclaims, “Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest . . .”

What do you do when you are not writing?  Do you have any hobbies?
My wife and I love to travel.  Our favorite “get-away-from-it-all” destination is St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  We are both big movie buffs, and we enjoy hiking and snorkeling.  We have a 112 gallon salt water reef tank, which is like having a living underwater garden in our living room.  I’ve been to Israel 15 times, taking groups on educational and service tours a dozen times. We’ve been in the Ukraine and Honduras on ministry trips, and we try to get out to Denver, CO whenever we can (we both love the snow-capped Rockies).
Antarctica is on my wish list (I’m working on a novel where much of the action takes place there) and we both would like to do an African photographic safari.  I would like to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro while we’re there, with a copy of Hemingway’s short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, in my backpack. When I was younger I did a lot of mountaineering in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming.  One of my dreams is to hike to the base camp of Mt. Everest.  The other is to spend a couple of weeks hiking New Zealand staying at bed and breakfasts along the way and tour Australia by car, including a snorkeling trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

How did you get your first book published?  How long did it take?  Was this the first book you had written?
I got an idea for a supernatural thriller involving the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Antichrist, the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem, and bloodline genealogies in the spring of 1984.  I sat down one morning and wrote the opening lines, then continued researching and writing, re-writing, and more rewriting–for 6 years.  I travelled to Israel for the very first time to do research and fell in love with both the Land and the people. Along the way I read a few “how to” writing books, drove people to distraction with my crazy ideas, and went to several writer’s conferences.  At one of them I met my mentor, Lurlene McDaniel, a guest Bestselling YA author and featured speaker on the craft of writing.  I gave her the first chapter of my novel, The Master’s Quilt. She was gracious enough to read it overnight and thoroughly mark it up with more red lines than I could count!  My heroine had her last name, and her parents just happened to live a couple of miles from me.  She saw something in all of that and took me under her wing.  She worked with me for a year, polishing the manuscript, then invited me along with her to the CBA Convention the following summer.  I pitched my novel to several editors and publishers, and Jan Dennis of Crossway Books was very interested.    A year later I had a contract.

What piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Winston Churchill says it so much better than I ever could.  On October 29th, 1941 he visited Harrow School, a year after the Battle of Britain, and uttered these famous words:”The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity, whereas the optimist see the opportunity in every problem.  Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except in convictions of honor and good sense.”
To paraphrase:  Never quit!

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See more at the author’s website: http://michaeljwebbfiction.com

Check out Michael J. Webb’s latest release: The Oldest Enemy

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2012 by in Author Interviews.

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