Rommel’s Genuine Suspense Leads Him From the Page to Hollywood

Keith Rommel is an award winning author of 13 novels, and award winning screenwriter of upcoming films The Cursed Man, The Lurking Man and The Sinful Man. His writing had been called “horror for the curious mind,” and “thinking mans horror.” It has garnished awards such as best novel of the year to 5 star Readers Favorite awards.

the-cursed-man

Interview with Susan Kiskis

The film version of his novel, The Cursed Man, has already won two awards, semi-finalist in Cinefest and finalist at the Terror Film Festival for Best Screenplay. It releases this month. We had the opportunity to ask Rommel some questions about his writing inspiration, his upcoming film and what’s next on his to-do list.

The first book in your Thanatology Series, The Cursed Man, has been adapted into a movie and set to premier on Halloween. What drew you to write The Cursed Man and when doing so, did you know it would be part of a series?

I actually had no idea. Upon completion of writing the novel The Cursed Man, I had decided I wanted the story to continue. Without any clear direction of what was next, I spent many nights staying up late, searching for a series name. As one might notice, without clear direction, naming something that has not yet been created was quite difficult. Thanatology, the series name, merely came to me after I decided that I should describe the series by its theme.

You co-wrote the screenplay for The Cursed Man. Was that your first time writing for screen? What was the process like for you and how did it differ from writing a novel?

I had dabbled in screenwriting and comic book script writing in the late 90’s as merely an interest. Unfortunately, none of my original writings exist, but thankfully some of my know-how remained.

The process of writing a screenplay can be a simple one, or complex, depending on the text it’s being adapted from. In the case of The Cursed Man, or most any of my novels, I write from a theatrical point of view. Short punchy dialogue with brief descriptions to keep the stories moving quickly. This makes adaptation a little easier. Where I ran into trouble was shrinking the story down to fit onto screen. This means some of the things people are familiar with in The Cursed Man novel, will not be on screen, due to timing and pace. When writing a novel, you have the freedom to explain and express without limitations. In screenwriting, you have 90-110 pages with a lot of centered, confined margins. Movie dialogue eats up a lot of those precious pages.

Thanatology is a study of death, death practices and the terminally ill. Was that a guiding post for this series?

Absolutely. I’ve always had a fascination with death. I would probably consider it to be more of a fear than a hankering to see a corpse; that kind of grosses me out. This fear has allowed me to write magnificent stories throughout the Thanatology Series that send a very powerful message about life. Yes. Life is hard. And there is so much drama around us. But, if you were given a chance… a second chance, or a way to show others that what you did in your life leads to something that might be tragic, horrific, have a long-lasting impact on everyone around you, wouldn’t you like to receive that message?

Also, a small tidbit about the Thanatology Series, that most people might not know, is that every story in the series, that is currently available, is based off of someone’s real life events.

When did you start writing and was the goal always to write books?

I started writing when I was in my early 20’s. To be blatantly honest, I was in modified classes in school and struggled with a reading comprehension disability. I couldn’t string a sentence together to save my life.

I’m an avid reader of comic books and that helped me with my comprehension problem. I loved Stephen King and Anne Rice stories and always found myself nose deep in one of their novels.

I think, in a strange sort of way, that was the beginning of my training to learn how to write. When I began to think about publication, I wanted a pulse to find out what others thought of my writing. I joined the Critique Circle online where other writers comment on your story and help guide you. There were two big things I had to learn about other writers while I was there. 1) Most writers really want to help. 2) The advice you get is not always good.

What drew you to writing horror, or more specifically, about death?

It is purely driven by my fascination and fear. I actually don’t categorize my writing within the Thanatology Series as horror. I like to classify it as psychological suspense, thrillers. I think people have pigeonholed it as horror because of the psychological torment my characters go through. I’d classify my other novels, White River Monster and The Devil Tree, as horror. Ice Canyon Monster is an educational thriller suspense. I write in these other categories to give myself a brain break from the complexity of the Thanatology Series.

Since we are in October, and it revolves around all things haunted, is Halloween your favorite holiday?

Halloween is a fun holiday to me. I love to see the kids dressed up and creating a sense of neighborhood friendliness that has changed much since I was a kid. I would have to say though that Christmas is my favorite holiday. It reminds me of my father who passed away 7 years ago. 

O.K. I have to ask. What is your favorite horror film and what makes a good horror story?

My favorite horror film would have to be JAWS. Is that even horror? If it’s not, when I was a kid and saw that, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the ocean. I kind of still have the image of a stinking shark biting me and dragging me out to sea.

And what makes a good horror story? Suspense! Lots of it. Not cheap scares, but genuine suspense. Capture that, like in the movie The Sixth Sense, and you’ve hit a home run.

Is there anything overdone in this genre?

Cheap scares. I definitely try to avoid that at all costs. I also feel it is extremely important to come up with unique ideas. I feel when people learn of Alister’s plight in The Cursed Man, or Sariel in The Lurking Man, or even Leo in The Sinful Man, they’re going to find out these situations are unique. I refuse to put something out that doesn’t offer something to the reader.

When does your film release and how can people see the film?

The film releases this Halloween at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, CA. The film will be shown in the other Laemmle Theaters and showtimes and dates will be announced soon. I’ll post those announcements on my website.

Any other news you’d like to share with fans?

That they can expect to see The Devil Tree on the big screen, too. I’ll also be co-writing another movie with James L. Perry, the producer and director of The Cursed Man, based off of one of his ideas. He’s looking to film sometime in 2017. I’ll announce more as things become more solidified. 

The filming of keith-rommelhis 3rd novel, The Sinful Man, is set to begin early 2017.

The Cursed Man, The Lurking Man, and other novels by Keith Rommel, along with tickets to the premier of The Cursed Man, are available at sunburypress.com

You can find out more about Keith Rommel on his website keithrommel.com

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Brahm Gallagher of “Game of Thrones” plays lead role in “The Cursed Man”

  • Sunbury Press: In September 2014, you came to Sunbury Press bookstore to celebrate the completion of the filming of The Cursed Man and Sunbury Press’ 10th anniversary. Can you tell us what that day was like?

Brahm_headshotBrahm Gallagher: It was an absolute honor to be a part of the 10th Anniversary as well as be able to support Keith at the book signing. Plus the chance to meet the man who wrote The Cursed Man was not an opportunity to be missed! I’m very thankful to Keith for writing a character that spoke to me and who, although was very troubled on the page, is at his heart someone who is trying to do good in the only way that he sees how at this point. It was also amazing to meet the fans who were fans already and hopefully some more that very soon will be.

  • SP: Alister, the lead character in The Cursed Man is a complex character. Can you tell readers how you prepared for such a complex role and managed to capture the essence of the character?

BG: I relied heavily on the book and in turn the script which was basically at its core a transcription of the written novel. I referred to the script countless times, over and over, and looked at hours of footage and interviews with incarcerated killers, both at the time of their arrests and subsequent interviews years later after spending time incarcerated; to find an essence of the isolation that Alister has imparted on himself based of his fear of the curse. What would that time of solitary do to a person? How would shutting out the world manifest itself in one’s being? Alister has chosen a path that only he can walk down till it is interrupted by the good Doctor. Those areas of mental cognizance were where most of my research went but I also wanted to know the feeling of being hungry for release from something so I lost twenty pounds in one month before the start of shooting by only eating baby food. Who would have known I’d be required to maintain that weight loss for nearly 4.5 months?!!? *chuckles*

  • SP: If you had to describe what genre The Cursed Man is and compare it to a more, well-known movie previously released movie or novel, what would that be?

BG: I believe it to be a psychological thriller. The monster affectation was added by our director but I always believed the demons to be in Alister’s mind. As an actor, I can only control the character and try to manipulate the world that I am thrust into, so for me, it was always about the anguish that Alister has lived through and continues to see through his own warped perspective. Looking at the story with that in mind, I can almost see parallels to the Stanford Experiment and to some extent Shutter Island – how the mind is the institution that holds Alister in check and is also his worst enemy.

  • SP: What was the biggest challenge you had bringing Alister to life?

BG: The production schedule was rough. An absolute hard experience to endure. Not just taking into account the sustained loss of weight but the mental toll, and trying to determine which reality Alister was in dependent on what we were shooting that day. It was also made more difficult by the very independent style in which the film was made. We would work flat out for a few days … running … then there would be a break in shooting, sometimes for an undetermined length of time, then we’d have to jump right back in and go full bore again. It went on and on. The struggle of holding onto Alister’s ever loosening grip on “reality” as well as determining what state he was in as timelines shift throughout the story was a real challenge.

  • SP: If there is a message you wanted to convey to the people reading this interview, what would that be?

BG: This film was a truly independent filmmaking endeavor based on a brilliant independently written book that hopefully will spark in the mind of the viewer/reader. There is a place for pieces such as this in our oversaturated, glam-style, pretty consumer society. Sometimes truths that are hidden aren’t also pretty or glamorous and mental trauma in whatever form it manifests is not to be taken lightly and we should be looking for ways to assist those suffering from it instead of ostracizing them for it.

  • SP: We know of something big on the horizon for you. Please tell the reading audience what you are up to and what you have coming in the near future.

BG: I’m not too sure how big it is at the moment but I have filmed a role for a certain show revolving around thrones with the very distinct hope of returning to that far off land again. I’ve also relocated from Los Angeles to the UK where I have had the great fortune to film a role with the BBC for an upcoming Sunday night drama series and also to work in Ireland, albeit briefly. I’m hoping to get back to other areas of Ireland again very soon.

  • SP: Would you recommend to people that they read the novel before or after seeing The Cursed Man Movie?

BG: I think that is a matter of personal taste. As I have no idea of what the finished film is going to be you may get a better understanding of the story from the book but I’d hope that Alister is both as alive to the audience onscreen as he was to me in the book.

  • SP: Without revealing any spoiler, what is your favorite part of The Cursed Man story or concept?

BG: The complete lack of knowing. Knowing what is real, what is not, what is real but only to one specific character at the time. The feeling of needing to know what the outcome will be because you don’t know where you are at the present. That’s a lot of fun in both a film and a book.

  • SP: If people wanted to follow what you’re doing, please let them know where they can keep tabs on you.

BG: Though I’m admittedly not the best at it I am on social media, but only one site. I don’t tweet, or instagram, snapchat, or use any other sites as I’m not sure I’d have the self-restraint not to say exactly what I’m thinking all the time if it was available to me. I believe mystery is still one of an actor’s greatest assets; knowing too much about a person can muddle the lines, eliminate the delineation of characters I play, and steal some of that mystery. Plus I like to keep people guessing, it’s my job.

About the Premiere:
World Premiere of THE CURSED MAN movie – Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. Halloween Night October 31, 2016 – 7pm to 11pm – Party before and after. This may be the greatest movie premiere on Halloween Night in the History of the Alex Theatre.  For more information about the venue, please see: http://www.alextheatre.org/

tcm_fc newAbout the Book:
Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him.  A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.

With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment.

But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings. When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.

About the Author:
Keith Rommel is an award-winning author of ten novels and is an award-winning screenwriter. His writing has been called, “Horror for the curious mind.” His first two novels, The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man are at various stages of production to become motion pictures. 2016.

The Cursed Man
Authored by Keith Rommel
List Price: $14.95
5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on White paper
222 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620063682
ISBN-10: 1620063689
BISAC: Fiction / Thrillers

About The Cursed Man Movie (2016):

MV5BMTQzNDYxNjkyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDE2MDUxMjE@._V1_UY268_CR6,0,182,268_AL_Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him. A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.

Director: James L. Perry

Stars: Brahm Gallagher, Brinna LockeMaritza Brikisak

The special edition movie premiere cover are only available through October.
For more information about the novel, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/The-Cursed-Man-PAPERBACK…

For more information about the movie, please see:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2614902/combined

For more information about Keith Rommel, please see:

http://keithrommel.weebly.com/

An Interview with Joe Farley, author of “Song Poems in Search of Music”

 

farleyJoe Farley is best known for partnering in the Keystone Tombstones biography series about famous and noteworthy people buried in Pennsylvania. Recently, Joe has released his first poetry volume: Song Poems in Search of Music, published by Sunbury Press. Following is an interview of Joe conducted for the Ernest and Edgar Literary Blog:

EE: For your Keystone Tombstones fans, a Joe Farley poetry book will appear to be somewhat of a diversion. Have you been a poet, and they didn’t know it? How do you hope they react?

JF: I would hope they would react favorably. As a matter of fact I’ve already received positive feedback on some of the poems.

EE: The poems span many decades. What is your reason for compiling them at this time?

JF: A couple of reasons, first after along period where I had stopped writing poetry I started again and that got me thinking about some of the older poems. When I dug those out and looked at them the thought occurred to me that maybe it was time to do something with them.

EE: Is there a favorite poem among the lot?

JF: I’m not sure I have a favorite but I do like Perfectly Pennswood and Burning Ash (Sharon’s Song). The latter is an old poem while the former is a new one.

EE: How did your work evolve over the years?

JF: I think the newer poems are more straight forward than the older ones. I’m pretty sure That I couldn’t write some of the older ones today, like The Degradation Inn for example.

spisom_fcEE: Do you plan to continue writing poetry?

JF: I’ll probably give it a rest for a time, but sure, I’ll write some more in the future.

EE: You have included a couple poems by your son Corrigan. Tells us a little about him.

JF: Corrigan’s my oldest son. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh a year ago, got married last summer and is currently living in Vancouver and working for Amazon.

EE: Did he want to be included, or was this your choice?

JF: It was my choice but I cleared it with him first.

EE: Regarding On the Lost Legends — which legends have been lost? Are you referring to a particular person or group of people?

JF:Lost Legends isn’t only about people, it includes ideas, inventions and theories.

EE: The Dark-Eyed Girl seems to have left quite an impression. Was this a real person in your life?

JF:The Dark-Eyed Girl is about several women, some are still around and some have passed away.

EE: Anthracite is one of my favorites. But, it sounds very bitter. What happened to your father?

JF:Anthracite will probably rile some of the folks back home. The reference in the poem to fathers is talking about grandfathers as well as my dad. My dad did pass away at a very young age.

EE: Some of your best lines are in The View From Oblivion’s Corner. I really liked this portion:

The drunkard at the river’s edge duels a maze of misconception;

I guess he never found a bargain when he bartered for affection.

There’s a note inside a bottle, but it breaks not far from shore.

Your sailor sweeps the waters clean, while the drunkard drinks some more.

What would I find on that note in the bottle?

JF: It’s up to the reader to decide what message was contained in the bottle.

EE: The Degradation Inn reads like an assignment from a Philosophy class in college. What was the origin of this?

JF:The Degradation Inn was written in the 1970s and was heavily influenced by Bob Dylan. Like I pointed out earlier I don’t believe I could write one like that today.

EE:The Stubborn Memory Blues is probably most ready to be put to music. The refrain makes it a potential country or R&B tune:

I’m not saying that I remember;

It’s more like I can’t forget.

Do you have tunes in your head when you write some of these?

JF: I had a tune in my head when I wrote that one but that is generally not the case.

EE: Anything else you want to leave us with?

JF: Well I’d like to thank my wife Sharon who took the photos that are included in the book, she really supported me on this project. In addition I hope that the readers enjoy the song poems.

 

An Interview with Dr. John Cressler on Shadows in the Shining City, the latest novel in his Anthems of al-Andalus series

Whether you’ve already fallen in love with medieval Spain or you have yet to meet the characters in Emeralds of the Alhambra, get ready for Dr. John Cressler’s newest book in the Anthems of al-Andalus series, Shadows in the Shining City. Book two of the ongoing series is a prequel to the story in Emeralds, but still explores and revives that special, peaceful time in history when religious and social coexistence was not only possible, but actually happening. Shadows in the Shining City is scheduled for a summer 2014 release, but meanwhile, check out the interview with the author, below.
Sunbury Press: Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your Anthems of al-Andalus series and specifically your newest book, Shadows in the Shining City. Apart from the “official” summary for book one, Emeralds of the Alhambra, can you give us a recap in your own words?

Dr. John Cressler: First, a bit of preamble. My historical fiction is intended to introduce readers to a remarkable, and for the most part, little-appreciated period of history: medieval Muslim Spain, a place known today as al-Andalus (Andalusia). This rich history, a Muslim history, spans almost 800 years, from 711 CE to 1492 CE, and had profound influence on the development of Europe and even America. The goal of my historical series, Anthems of al-Andalus, is to break open the rich history of al-Andalus for the modern reader by using compelling love stories.
Emeralds of the Alhambra, book one in the series, takes place towards the end of this 800 year history, between 1367-1369, a pivotal period in Spanish history known as the Castilian Civil War. This was a time when, remarkably, Muslims fought beside Christians against other Christians. The events of Emeralds unfold around the love story between a strong-willed Muslim princess of court, Layla al-Khatib, and a famous English knight, William Chandon. Their love story is set in the glorious Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best preserved medieval Islamic palace in world (it still largely exists in its 14th century form), and is one of the most visited tourist sites in Europe. It is a magical place and was front and center in the 14th century Castilian Civil War . . . and it is a terrific location to set a love story! Chandon is seriously wounded and brought to the Alhambra to be used by the sultan as a political pawn. There he meets Layla. It is a forbidden love. Among other things, their love story explores the complexities of interfaith relationships (she is Muslim, he is Christian). In the end, there will be difficult choices to make, ones that not only affect their own relationship, but also the future of Muslim Spain. In my humble opinion, it’s a really great read.

Emeralds of the AlhambraSP: And for readers who are still unfamiliar with Emeralds of the Alhambra, here’s an excerpt , book trailer , and where to buy. Now, the same for your latest Anthems of al-Andalus book, Shadows in the Shining City, if you please . . .

JC: Again, some preamble. One of the most remarkable aspects of the 800 year history of Muslim Spain, al-Andalus, is that for a long stretch of time (a couple of centuries), Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together in relative harmony and collectively helped launch one of the greatest intellectual and cultural flowerings of human history. That period of religious and cultural harmony is known today as convivencia (Spanish for ‘coexistence’). A casual glance at our world today, with its religious tensions and conflict, suggests that peace never was and never will be possible among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. However, peaceful coexistence did happen, for a long time, and I view it as vital for us as a global community in the 21st century to recall that fact. One of the central themes of my fiction is this rediscovery of convivencia as it unfolded in al-Andalus.
Shadows in the Shining City is a prequel to Emeralds of the Alhambra, and is set in late 10th century Córdoba (975 CE – 977 CE). It was a remarkable place and period. Muslim Córdoba was the largest, richest, cleanest, and most cultured city in Europe—by far. The Muslim Caliphs were collectors and lovers of books and knowledge, literature and art, and that diverse, multicultural society made pioneering contributions to medicine, science, agriculture, literature, and the arts. Jews, even today, consider this period of living in a Muslim kingdom to be their Golden Age. Jews and Christians were valued and welcomed members of that society. Like Emeralds, Shadows breaks open this rich history using love stories—in this case three running in parallel! The central love story involves Rayhana Abi Abir (a young Muslim woman of standing at court) and Zafir Saffar (a freed slave). In Shadows, I use this central love story to explore class differences in this fascinating society. I also show how one ambitious man orchestrated the unraveling of this great society; it is an archetypal tale of power and greed. Shadows is also a GREAT read!

Shadows in the Shining City

SP: And for readers who can’t wait to peek at your newest book, check out this excerpt and the Shadows in the Shining City book trailer . Now, Shadows is a prequel to Emeralds . . . was it part of your intended series structure all along to write one love story first and then follow up with its prequel or does your series structure evolve in response to each book? Please go on about your intentions for the structure for the remainder of the series.

JC: Actually, making book two a prequel was always the plan. So Anthems of al-Andalus is not a classical (sequential) trilogy. As I said, my aim is to break open 800 years of history. I started in 1367, but wanted then to go back and contrast that time period with this Golden Age in the late 10th century. I knew this before I began book one. I also wanted to show where my characters in Emeralds came from and how they ended up in Granada. The setting for book three in the series was also decided up front. I will jump back over Emeralds and into the future to 1492, to witness the fall of Granada and the Alhambra and show how the 800 history of al-Andalus ends. The descendants of the characters in Emeralds will figure in book three. I will say that this is a series, not a trilogy, so I do intend on writing books four through six, but the settings for those have not been decided yet. There are many fascinating options!

SP: Both books focus on central love stories set during historically significant times that highlight relationships among practitioners of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Why is it important to you to use a romantic love story as the central focus of the books? What do you think the element of romance lends to the broader history? What do you hope the reader draws from the romantic relationships and the other types of relationships in the books?

JC: The two central themes of my fiction include: 1) re-awakening the dynamic interaction among the three Abrahamic faith traditions in medieval Muslim Spain, and hopefully through that experience inviting readers to imagine a different future for our modern world (i.e., can convivencia be resurrected today, and if so, how?); and 2) exploring the nature of love. If you stop and think about it, these two themes are strongly connected, since at the deepest level, all religion has love at its core: the love of self, love of the other, and love of God. I believe the history of medieval Spain is fascinating in its own right, but rather than create a history book (I began my writing career with five non-fiction books), I wanted to awaken those memories using fiction, which, if well-executed, can much more easily bring history alive for most folks, allowing readers to literally step into events and see for themselves what it must have been like. Centering my fiction on love stories, especially love stories that cross religious and class boundaries, serves as an ideal vehicle for exploring these broader themes while simultaneously producing a compelling must-read. Truth be told, love knows no artificial boundaries; religious, cultural, class, or race, and hence is the ideal plot device to explore my basic themes. As a side note, I have been greatly blessed in my life with a 31+ year romance with my wife and soul mate, Maria. So, tapping into that experience was easy for me. I have found that writing love stories is a very satisfying way to reawaken that flood of memories from our early days together. Ahhh, young love! And simply put, writing romance is a ton of fun! But, even though my novels have some serious romance in them, it is history first, romance second, and hence I consider my novels historical fiction, not historical romance.

SP: An important distinction. What, if any, are the contemporary connections you have tried to make in terms of the relationships among the peoples/religions/cultures depicted in your book (and now)? What are the modern implications in your historical fiction?

JC: I am very much concerned with interfaith dialogue and inter-religious dynamics in our broken modern world, which so often seems to spawn conflict and shameful atrocities (e.g., Syria, Israel, Gaza, etc.). So, yes, my fiction is intended to help folks remember that the conflict we see today was not always so, and that a different future is indeed possible if we desire another answer. That is not to say that we can necessarily recreate what existed in medieval Spain, but it does mean that what we see today is not mandated; it can be different if we dare to imagine it. In my mind, remembering the simple fact of convivencia in al-Andalus is a powerful incentive to try and create a different future. Imagine for a moment a world without religious conflict. Seems hard, but that is the invitation in my fiction.

SP: So you approach each book with a moral/lesson/goal in mind? How do you go about weaving your opinions and ideals into the narratives?

JC: The broader themes—inter-religious dynamics and the nature of romantic relationships—were present in my fiction from day one and manifest in each of my novels. But, these are obviously VERY broad and complex themes and can be explored in so many ways. So, each novel will attack this problem from different angles. For instance, in Emeralds the love story is across religious boundaries (Muslim woman, Christian man); in Shadows, the central love story is across class boundaries (they are both Muslim, but one is high-born, the other a freed slave). I would say that my themes are not overt in my plot or characters; I am first and foremost trying to bring a period of history alive in front of the reader and invite them to step into that history. Second, I am trying to make it a compelling page-turner. But, the reader will always be able to discern my two themes at work, weaving in and out of the characters and plot.

SP: Excellent. What are your overall goals for the Anthems of al-Andalus series? What inspires you to write these books about these topics? Could you sum up the whole series (so far)? I know that’s probably difficult, so bonus points for answering.

JC: Ultimately, I want to show how medieval Muslim Spain came to be, how it flourished and what that means to our modern world, and how it then fell apart and why. It is an 800 year history with tremendous nuance and fascinating complexity. Plus, it is a history largely unknown to most readers. So, that is the goal: revive this history in a way that makes it fun to read.

SP: What should we expect from your next book?

JC: I am already working on my research for book three and beginning to mull over plot lines. It will be set around 1492, back in Granada during the fall of the Muslim kingdom. It is a riveting time period with MANY interesting topics to address: the conquest of the Muslim kingdom and the Alhambra Palace by Ferdinand and Isabella (lots of battles and conspiracy), the launch of Columbus’ discovery of the New World (he received his commission in Granada in 1492 at the fall), the Inquisition (which is launched to address the issues with the Jews in the Muslim kingdom), the ultimate decision (it was largely political) leading to the great Diaspora of the Sephardic Jews, and the collapse and expulsion of all Muslims from Spain. The list is long. I am still mulling over what kind of love story(-ies) I will unfold along the way. But the descendants of the first two books will be front and center. Trust me: it will be a roller coaster ride!

SP: Looking forward to it. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JC: Sure, here’s something. As a professor for 22 years now, I have done a tremendous amount of research and teaching and mentoring of young people, as well as my fair share of writing (five non-fiction books and over 500 scientific papers). I have found, however, that my fiction is the single most creatively satisfying thing I have ever done in my life. It has become my lifeblood and will be with me from now until I die! And I am grateful to Lawrence Knorr and Sunbury Press for helping me bring my vision to the world. It has been a fantastic ride thus far!

SP: Thanks again for the insights to your latest book, Shadows in the Shining City (pre-order a copy!) and your series as a whole.