Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: I have been a voracious reader since I was a child, and have made up stories for as long as I can remember. While there were other things I also dreamed of doing, being a writer was always one of them. I actually started a novel when I was still in high school; I filled three looseleaf notebooks with it, and carefully packed it away when I joined the Navy in 1982. A few years later, when we moved into our first house, I found the box with all three notebooks in it. I read through the first one, put it back in the box, and never opened it again . . . it was REALLY bad!
Q: What inspired you to start writing?
A: I had done some non-fiction writing for hobby publications and such in the 1990’s, then got busy with work, kids, and all the other joys of “adulting.” All this time I was coming up with ideas for stories in my head, but I never had time to write them down. Then several things happened in short order – first, there was the ridiculous success of The Da Vinci Code, which grossly misrepresented the history of Christianity and the Church and yet was accepted as factual by readers all over America. Then there was a bit of costume drama I did for Easter at my church, in which I took on the character of Pontius Pilate, dictating a letter to Rome about the “Passover Incident.” Then, finally, I read a New York Times best-selling Christian novel by a well-known author and simply was not impressed at all with its quality. That’s when I decided I could do better – and proceeded to try!
Q: Why is “TESTIMONIUM” spelled with a V instead of a U on the cover?
A: I get this a LOT. In the Latin alphabet, there is no letter “U.” Rome’s most famous general would actually be written JVLIVS CAESAR in Latin letters. Since the “Testimonium of Pilate” was written in Latin, we decided to use the Latin version of the word on the cover.
Q: Do you think Pontius Pilate really was redeemed?
A: I don’t know; one of the themes of the story is that no man is beyond redemption, and Pilate is one of the best-known villains of history. In researching his story, I found that there are three traditions about Pilate’s fate: One says that he fell on his sword after being recalled to Rome in disgrace; another says that he went mad, compulsively washing his hands over and over again, muttering “the blood, the blood!” But the most interesting tradition is the one that claims Pilate became a Christian after leaving Judea and was martyred for his faith during the reign of Caligula. That made for the best story, so that was what I went with.
Q: Do you believe the Bible is true?
A: I get this a lot from anxious believers who are intrigued by my covers but also don’t want to buy a novel whose message is detrimental to Christianity. I am a pastor and a follower of Jesus Christ; I believe the Bible is the true and inerrant word of God.
Q: Do you write about anything besides Christian themes?
A: My short stories are all over the landscape; I write Sherlock Holmes stories, horror stories, humorous tales, and inspirational ones. So far all my novels have dwelt on Christian themes; whether that will always be the case I honestly cannot say. I am currently working on a musical about the life of Theodore Roosevelt that is great fun, even if I never go anywhere with it.
Q: Have you actually traveled to the places you write about?
A: I did get to go to Israel in 2016, after I had written both of the novels that are set there. I spent ten days in-country doing archeology and it was glorious! Italy is at the top of my bucket list, followed by the rest of Western Europe and Egypt. But for the most part, I have had to rely on Google Earth to get the feel for the places I write about.