Welcome, Gary Val. Please give us a brief bio.
Hi Susan. First I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to do this interview! I’m a writer/artist/book-cover-designer, former contributing writer for Fate Magazine (U.S.) and Beyond Magazine (U.K.) and I’ve been a guest on numerous radio programs (including Dreamland, hosted by best selling author Whitley Strieber and The X-Zone hosted by Rob McConnell). As you might guess, from that bit of background information, I have an interest in just about everything that could be considered “paranormal” as well as cutting edge ideas from quantum physics. I’m fascinated by the mysteries surrounding many of our ancient cultures, the UFO phenomenon, synchronicity, sacred geometry, crop circles, and pretty much anything that resides outside the box or goes bump in the night.
Some readers might be interested to know about my exploration of the possibility that the English alphabet is “encoded” in such a way that it can be used in a manner similar to the system of divination known as gematria. Gematria, for those not familiar with the term, might be thought of as a kind of “sacred numerology”. That is over-simplifying it but does give you the idea that it involves numbers in combination with the alphabet. Gematria was practiced by the ancient Greek and Hebrew priests and mystics. This work, interestingly enough, provided the plot device that propels the entire story of my novel, The Ezekiel Code. The details of the work (including hundreds of examples) can be seen at http://www.secretofnine.com/.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
The writing bug bit me when I was about 12 years old. That’s when I wrote my first story. It was a science fiction piece called “The Beam From Saucer X”. It was great! Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t so great but, hey… my mom liked it.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t really get serious about writing until around the late 80s/early 90s. I started a science fiction novel that was coming along pretty well but I stopped working on it when I was struck with an idea for a different story. That idea kept nagging at me to get it started. Once I got started I couldn’t stop although it took nearly 9 years to complete it. The result was my debut novel, The Ezekiel Code (http://www.ezekielcode.com/).
Yes, there was a message I wanted readers to grasp. The message can be summed up by a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. There is another quote that works here also. I’ve seen it attributed to Albert Einstein. It goes like this: “The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine”. In writing The Ezekiel Code I wanted to introduce readers to a wide range of ideas and concepts they may never have heard of. As one reviewer said:
“It changes you because it opens a portal to so many fascinating concepts, some of which are right before your eyes, laced throughout our lives and history, and others, which exist just beyond our general understanding, that it will keep you thinking and wondering about what it presents long after you've read it.”
What a wonderful review!
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
The Ezekiel Code is a blend of fact and fiction based on the idea that the strange object encountered by the prophet, Ezekiel, was actually an extraterrestrial craft, or an interdimensional craft. In other words, it ain’t from around here. That idea occurred to me back in the 70s and I later learned I wasn’t the only person who noticed the similarities between Ezekiel’s descriptions of the object and some of the modern day accounts of UFO encounters. The novel is loaded with conspiracy, codes, secret societies, UFOs, ancient mysteries, the prophetic Mayan calendar end-date of 2012, alternative interpretations of Biblical events, mystifying metaphysics, good guys, bad guys, murder most foul, a touch of romance and a trace of sci-fi.
The book has been out in paperback since 2007 and was selling quite well. I recently made it available also in Kindle format. Much to my surprise and delight, within three weeks of being available on Kindle, the book hit the amazon.com “Best Seller” list in the categories of “Occult” and “Religious Fiction”.
What’s the hook for the book?
The big hook for the book is that it deals with the 2012 phenomenon, the approaching end of the ancient Mayan calendar. There has been a virtual plethora of non-fiction books about the 2012 issue published over the past few years but relatively few novels have approached that theme. Most of those few novels take the “dooms day” approach to 2012. The Ezekiel Code, however, takes a different approach. In my story the end of the Mayan calendar offers an unprecedented window of opportunity for enlightenment and an extraordinary future of the human race. There’s just one problem. Something disastrous is coming that could prevent us from ever reaching the year 2012. Discovering what it is, and how to prevent it, becomes the mission of one man while a highly placed group of conspirators are maneuvering behind the scenes to keep him from accomplishing his appointed task. Here’s a brief synopsis:
A fabled "lost scroll", scribed by the prophet Ezekiel, comes into the hands of a secret society, the Order of the New Dawn. Brother Hiram - a mystic priest of the Order - has a vision in which he sees the year 2012 (the end of the ancient Mayan calendar) as an unprecedented window of opportunity for the next step in the evolution of human consciousness. He also sees something coming that would prevent this window from opening; a catastrophic event that, if left unchecked, would seal the fate of humankind forever. He realizes the Lost Scroll and his vision of 2012 have a strange but vital connection. In an attempt to save the future he devises a coded message that he hopes will one day find it's way into the hands of someone who can prevent the greatest natural catastrophe the modern world has ever known.
Frank McClintock - a self-styled adventurer and researcher of ancient mysteries - comes into possession of the coded parchment. But an unfortunate fate awaits him and the parchment will lie hidden for another six years.
Zeke Banyon, a Catholic seminary dropout, is running a homeless shelter in the old waterfront district of Seattle. He and his assistant, Angela, unwittingly stumble upon the code and soon find themselves thrust into a world of secret societies, metaphysics, mystery, and murder. In the process of trying to understand the code – and dodging rogue Jesuit priests and the mysterious Illuminati at every turn – Banyon discovers a disturbing truth about himself and the extraordinary fate that awaits him... and us. No amount of seminary schooling could ever have prepared him for this.
2012 is coming...
The clock is ticking...
The code must be deciphered...
And only one man can save the planet...
If he can just figure out how - before it's too late.
How do you develop characters? Setting?
Like many writers I have a general idea of what my main characters are like before I begin writing and then I find that their personalities evolve almost naturally as the story progresses.
As far as the setting goes, I decided to set the story of The Ezekiel Code primarily in Seattle because that’s where I was born and raised. Placing the characters and most of the action in a familiar setting helped me provide an added sense of reality to the story. The characters do, however, leave Seattle and go to a location in New York and then off to a location in the South of France, two places where I’ve never been. Their stay in New York is brief so I only had to do a little bit of research to assure my accuracy of that part of their journey. The location in France was more of a concern because it’s a key part of the story I knew that many of my readers would be familiar with it, some more so than others, but I wanted it to be accurate. It’s a small village called Rennes Le Chateau, a place of legend that has been discussed in several non-fiction books. So I contacted the author of one of those non-fiction books, a man whom I knew had actually been there to do some hands-on research. Although he was in England and didn’t know me from Adam he was kind enough to answer my questions about the location, the climate, the general terrain, and so on. With that detailed information, and a few photographs, I felt comfortable when it came time to write that part of the story.
How do you determine voice in your writing?
I think I like to keep my voice out of it, for the most part, and let the voices of the characters come through.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Some writers like to establish an outline of the story before they begin writing. I didn’t do that with The Ezekiel Code. I thought I knew pretty much how the story would begin, what would happen in the middle, and how it would end. Turned out I was surprised by much of what occurred in the middle and the ending was not at all what I had envisioned. The story became much more complex than I had anticipated so I had to start keeping a legal pad next to me as I worked. I would jot down the various new ideas that were constantly coming to mind as the story progressed and I made notes about how to incorporate those ideas into the story. Another thing I hadn’t anticipated was how difficult it would be to coordinate all the events toward the end of the story as the characters found themselves in a race against the clock. Inevitably, I had to literally diagram a timeline, down to the day, the hour, the minute and the second when the big event would occur. That was probably the most difficult part of the whole thing.
What are your current projects?
I’m working on a new novel, an occult crime thriller, called “Ash: Return of the Beast”. It’s based on a little known but very curious bit of trivia concerning the infamous practitioner of occult “magick”, Aleister Crowley. An excerpt from the intriguing introduction and a short synopsis and the cover art can be seen at
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Readers can watch three video trailers for The Ezekiel Code (one of which is a visual presentation of the entire prolog from the book), and read some of the reviews and even the first 12 chapters of the book at
http://www.ezekielcode.com/. Authors who want a top quality, original, attention-grabbing book cover at an extremely reasonable price can get all the information and see samples of my work at
Gary Val, thanks for a great interview! Continued success!