Part 2: Why It Took Me 28 Years to Write My “Latest” Novel

Click HERE to read Part 1 of this article, wherein I explain why writing this novel scared the hell out of me. Maybe even literally.

The Story Behind Whisper of the Seventh Thunder

Consider this for a moment.  If you don’t believe any of it, then big deal, you keep writing.  But I did believe, and I still do.  I was entering dangerous waters, and I would quickly be in over my head.

I then asked myself the question that would trigger the book as I would end up writing it.  The one that is published today.

What would happen to me if I actually did write the book as I had planned? 

If I tried to faithfully depict the end times according to John’s vision, setting those events in present day?

It was then that a terrifying thought hit me: what if I got it right?  What if, in my creative imagination of how the world might descend to an apocalyptic point, I actually – and coincidentally – hit upon the very thing that John was instructed not to write down?

I’d be guessing of course, taking literary liberty… or would I?

I can’t describe the shiver that went up my spine at the moment that specific thought entered my head.  It happened thirty years ago, and I remember it like it was this morning.

In fact, a similar chill did hit me this morning when I realized what I’ve done in Whisper of the Seventh Thunder.  Not by intention, but by invention in the name of literary license.

But I digress… back to about 1982 now.

I got scared.  Scared enough to abandon the idea of “novelizing” the Book of Revelation.  Maybe not such a good financial or career move, given that 13 years later two guys named Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins would do precisely that by launching a series of novels called The Left Behind Series, each of which was a runaway New York Times bestseller that in total sold in the neighborhood of 80 million copies.

Guess they weren’t as scared as I was. 

It’s interesting to note that LeHaye was an established religious writer and preacher – one wonders if that licenses one to defy the admonitions of scripture – while Jenkins was the hired-gun writer. 

Be that as it may, there I was back in the early 80’s all conflicted with how to handle this idea.

In quest of help I consulted experts from three realms. 

First, I talked to people I knew about the story idea at its most basic level, including the scripture that terrified me and the inherent potential risks.  Opinions were polarized from two camps: fervent believers and more casual folks who weren’t sure.  The former warned me off my original story, and the latter just shrugged and wanted to quickly change the subject.

I then talked to a couple of ministers, and in direct contradiction (and to their horror), a psychic.  Interestingly, they all told me the same thing.

I was warned that dark forces might take an interest in this project.  And by dark forces they weren’t referring to greedy publishing types in New York with connections to powerful Sicilian families.  No, they feared that elements of a dark spiritual nature might try to intervene, to actually trick me into defying the word of God and write the book as I’d originally envisioned it.  Why?  Because dark forces would like nothing more than to defy God’s word, or even to upset the apocalyptic timetable.

I remember thinking at the time that this decision point – whether to blindly submit to faith, or follow one’s very human heart in pursuit of earthly success – was the state of the human condition for everyone, even those who aren’t writing a book about it.  We are tempted daily, and we decide based on the culmination of many factors, including the strength of our faith.

It was the minister who said this: “You may hear a knocking on a door that you shouldn’t answer.  I would proceed with great caution if I were you.”

If I was scared before, I was utterly, completely terrified now. 

I swore off the notion of writing this book and tried to get on with my life.  Which in my writing manifested as the beginning of an interest in screenwriting and the development of a bunch of scripts that would, in a roundabout way, bring me to where I am today with this project.

Over the next few years I never completely lost interest in the topic, primarily because of my fascination with Revelation 10:4.  I’d never heard it discussed before – though again I must remind the reader that I wasn’t an overly active or even religious person, nor did I ever attend any Bible study in which such a discussion might have gone down. 

I can’t say for sure, as I can with the original idea, when the actual premise for what is today Whisper of the Seventh Thunder struck me.  But I can say with absolute certainly that it was an evolution of my experience with the original idea, as fueled by the emotion and fear that ended up being attached to it.

That level of terror was too good to waste.  There are tens of millions of people who do believe, or want to believe, and an even larger number of people who at least know people who believe.

The concept of the book today.

This is simply stated.  Instead of novelizing the Book of Revelation, I wrote a novel about a writer who novelizes the Book of Revelation.  A writer who does what I was too afraid – or perhaps respectful of my core beliefs – to do.

Gabriel Stone had always wanted to write about the Book of Revelation in the form of a novel.  Life and a successful marriage got in the way, with his very religious wife urging him strongly to not write the book, that it would open the wrong doors and perhaps defy the very word of God himself.

And then she dies.  Suddenly, mysteriously, and coincidentally with a phone message he finds after learning of her death, telling him she’d changed her mind about his book and encouraging him to go for it.

Stone soon finds himself the pawn, even the centerpiece, in a battle for the survival and explosive success of his book, which does, in fact, specific precisely what John in the visions of the Seven Thunders, including the final one that he was instructed to never write down.

Gabriel Stone did write it down.  And if some people have their way, millions will read it.  Meanwhile there are others who get wind of the project and will stop at nothing to block its path to publication, including the complete disappearance of the author and his manuscript.

The fuse has been lit.  Gabriel Stone had unwittingly struck the match.  And now, it would be up to him to decide the outcome, which just might be the fate of the entire world as we know it.

The scales of his decision would be balanced by very human decisions based on ambition, materialism, fame and even greed, as opposed to the blind faith that Stone had struggled with his entire life.

That is the foundational premise of Whisper of the Seventh Thunder

You don’t have to believe in either God or the Bible to understand and hopefully be gripped by the story in this novel.  You only have to believe that there are some people who will do anything in the name of what they believe – one only has to look as far as the 9-11 tragedy to see that this is valid and current – including taking very human steps to help fulfill the prophecies that reside at the core of their belief system.

It is when those belief systems collide that we must resort to our faith to survive.

Whisper of the Seventh Thunder isn’t so much an apocalyptic thriller as it is a political thriller about the last days leading up to what some might believe to be the ignition of an apocalyptic fuse… all of it with sub-text that some might construe as coming from somewhere other than, and higher than us, as well.

As for me, the writing of this book has solidified my faith through the exploration of it.  The road remains long, but as my sister recently told me, don’t sweat the details. Just let God be God.

Check out the book’s website HERE (this article is one of several features you’ll find there.)

And of course, you can buy it on Amazon HERE, or ask your favorite bookseller to order you a copy.  Always appreciated.

(Storyfix.com is an affiliate marketer for Amazon.com.  Duh.)

14 Comments

Filed under Book reviews for writers

14 Responses to Part 2: Why It Took Me 28 Years to Write My “Latest” Novel

  1. Larry, I love the last paragraph! But I suspect that won’t surprise you any. 🙂

  2. You had a high concept way back when. Then you wore your artist’s hat and made it even higher — writing about a writer. Sometimes an idea seems more valuable the more “vias” it has on it.

    Write what you know? Sheesh; you sure didn’t know and that didn’t stop you from writing.

    Whisper is sitting on my desk right now and keeps begging for attention. Wonder what it will be like reading something the author doesn’t know about.

    90% of that 28 years was on the artistic side. Get the idea/concept, tweak it up as high as possible, and then figure out the technical way to get that powerful emotional experience across.

    Good on ya!

  3. Sounds like a great read, Larry! Wow. Going on my To Be Read list as of right now. Cheers!

  4. nancy

    Can’t wait to read this book. It encompasses a lot of the issues on my mind right now. As I’ve asked before, keep us posted on your book tour–almost everyone passes throuh Bellingham.

  5. Curtis

    “It’s interesting to note that LeHaye was an established religious writer and preacher – one wonders if that licenses one to defy the admonitions of scripture.”

    Sir, you have been at the business of living for a while. You are kind to leave the question in the “wonder” category. You are a great marketer too. I applaud you on both counts. Write on.

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  7. Mark Lawrence

    Thank you, Larry, for sharing part of your creative process. I always find it interesting to read about how an idea comes into being.
    I admire your honesty, not many writers would admit that they knew an idea was beyond their skill level at that time. I know that feeling trips me up now and again. I’m glad that you continued to learn and are now in a position to pass that knowledge on to myself and others.
    I know that I’ve learned more about structure from your books and website than I have from all the other writing courses I have taken put together.
    Thank you!

  8. Thomas

    Just a heads-up – review of “Whisper…” on Amazon (“March 7, 2010: Makes Higgins look like Brooks without the color ;o)”). You asked for it ;o) My apologies for the slightly sloppy editing, was a far-too-busy weekend :o(

  9. Larry,

    I have not read your book, but wouldn’t it be cool if somehow you worked it into your book that the people who actually read the book would experience the “Rapture” Somehow, make reading your book the instigating incident to make the rapture occur.

  10. OK, so now you’re freaking me out. I’m in the middle of watching series 5 of Supernatural at the moment, and turned on standard standard TV to have a break from all the angels, demons and apocalyptic angst. There was a guy giving his in depth opinion of Revelation. I come here to read some of your old posts and find this honest and moving post instead. This feels like life imitating art imitating something.

    My copy of the book hasn’t arrived yet, but now I’ll be getting my hubby to read it first. This post will really add to my enjoyment of it when it does arrive though.

    You raise a good point. Where do each of us as writers draw the line between visualising in real life to attract a better reality and sharpen our focus and motivation, and the kind of intense visualisation that’s necessary for fiction but can make us uncomfortable if we’re having to fill our heads with all kinds of fear, horror and pain that we wouldn’t want anywhere near our real lives?

    By the way, I’m with your sister; let go and let God.

  11. I don’t read a lot of thrillers so in truth, I probably would not have read this book were it not for this very intriguing backstory on the story. I’m fascinated because Revelation has been a frightening mystery all of my life. I love how you twisted your original premise to be something even bigger. I will certainly read this book now.

  12. Monica Rodriguez

    Thanks for the overview of the book. I’m properly fascinated. And, tho it may be an unusual comment, I’m relieved to hear that the book is not overly religious. I enjoy thrillers, and I was fascinated by the DaVinci Code. But I’m not interested in reading a religious thriller. You’ve made your point – it’s not. I’m putting this on my To Read list as well!

  13. I really enjoyed this story. Besides my regular job, I also fill in as pastor at my church when the pastor’s regular job calls him away. The book of Revelation is something I’ve always been nervous to preach on. I caught the specific verse you mentioned in reading the book, but I suppose it didn’t affect me the same as it did you because I’m not trying to write a book on the Revelation! This isn’t so much the writing part of your blog, but the once-per-month preacher in me found the religious part of this post absolutely fascinating!

  14. @Jason – thanks for this, and good timing. I just acquired the rights back from its small publisher, and it’s been added to my contract with Turner Books for 2013… they are re-releasing my entire backlist (now including the retitled “The Seventh Thunder” before my new novel breaks on the fall. Hoping others see the conceptual appeal, as you did. Thanks again, much appreciated. L.