Q: How do you pronounce your last name?
A: AHM-i-day, as in “Amidei, you’re a Knight!” I know. But it works.
Q: What are your novels about?
A: The storyline of my first, The Anvil of the Craftsman, involves a doctoral candidate recruited to a State Department team having a goal of outreach to Anbar Province in 2006 Iraq. It is also about the foreign actors that oppose the team mission and the military operative who hunts them. The message of the novel is a bit deeper, involving three possible orientations of the human spirit.
Essentially, my fiction is about people facing the physical, interpersonal and spiritual challenges that make life what it is.
Q: Who are the main characters?
A: In Jon’s Trilogy, Jon Anthony is the main narrative character, a deep-thinking, quiet, young academic who has no idea what he is getting into. Tom Colby is a hard-charging State Department executive with an ambitious plan to turn the tide of his nation’s troubles in Iraq. My Special Operator, who is trying to keep them both alive, is death on two legs, and becomes the focus of his own series in Sean’s File. There are peripheral characters of course, Iranian and Al Qaeda antagonists, and many others, but these three are the core.
The subject of Boone’s File is the irrepressible Dr. Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt. Boone has her debut in Absinthe and Chocolate. A case officer for the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Director of National Intelligence, her function is to solve problems that most people will never know exist. On the way to her present capacity, she first acquired a doctorate in Physiology, followed by a black belt in the Vietnamese martial art of Vo Binh Din, work with the State Department as an Embassy Security Specialist, and a small fortune in timely stock trades. She encapsulates her totality in the second novel of Boone’s File, The Bonus Pool: “She was all light, darkness, death, life, joy and grief, wrapped in a package who most people simply called Boone.”
Q: Which one is most like you?
A: There are all like me. Even the bad guys. It’s just a matter of degree.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Since shortly after I learned to read. The appeal of creating my own world on a blank page was present from the start. My first public reading, in 4th grade, featured a protagonist armed with weather-changing ammunition and a motorcycle jump across the Rio Grande. I have forgotten the rest, and that’s a good thing.
In grade and high school, I wrote science fiction, which I abandoned when I could not reconcile my future settings with my developing faith. I continued to write as a hobby, and in the mid-1990s participated in a fledgling form of collaborative online fiction on my favorite haunt’s AOL message board areas. There I found I could hold a storyline together, even in an environment where anyone could write the next scene.
If you think this is easy, I suggest you try it.
I found myself in the upper echelon of writers of the environment, and became the backbone author of the series of five episodes featuring those particular characters. Together they comprise nearly four hundred pages of surreal prose. I have since then authored Chasing After Life: Understanding God in the Context of His Creation, a petit theology on which more may appear here. The Anvil of the Craftsman is the application of those core precepts to my mainstream fiction.
Q: Should a Christian be writing fiction featuring realistic violence and occasional profanity?
A: Obviously, in my opinion, yes. Such events exist in the real world, and a plausible storyline can bring across a point possibly missed in an unread work approved by a more conservative editor. Besides, I find nothing in my faith that precludes me from writing fiction that swings a pair. You are free to disagree with this. Bless you and everyone, even the pontificating, self-righteous jerks.
Q: Are there sequels to “The Anvil of the Craftsman”?
A: Yes! Anvil is the first title of Jon’s Trilogy, and was followed by The Britteridge Heresy in August, 2012. His third title, Killing Doctor Jon, is available as well.
Q: Will you tell us a little about them?
A: My favorite aspect of The Britteridge Heresy is the opportunity to feature strong female characters. The first novel, largely set in a Muslim country, did not realistically allow for the placement of significant women actors in the storyline. The Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs played the most prominent role, other than Farrah, in whose house the State Department team sheltered during their trip to Anbar.
For the most part, Heresy takes place in the United States. It features Mary Kelly, who is Jon Anthony’s neighbor, Deborah Vosse, a liberal news anchor, and returning character Christie Wilt, Jon’s college friend, among others. Rest assured that none of these are women with whom you should trifle.
The characters established in Anvil, including U.S. Army General Peter McAllen, as well as everyone’s favorite U.S. Air Force alpha male and the State Department’s Bernie Schuster, return to the fore. With their help, Heresy moves more quickly toward An Evening to Remember. I guarantee this to be one chapter that will live up to its title.
The title’s first reviewer called it “a book to be devoured,” and so it is. Heresy is Aerosmith where Anvil is Mozart.
Killing Doctor Jon follows two years later, just as Heresy did Anvil. Again, his former involvements develop into a cycle of revenge that threatens his life and friends, peaking in life-changing attacks at home. Afterward, he must carry out a personal mission, unable to draw on any resource but his faith in realities that he now perceives as absolute. The storyline that follows, as one of the first reviewers put it, “knocks you on your butt.”
Personally, what I find satisfying is that Doctor Jon makes it clear that this is Jon’s Trilogy: one that has already been called a “must have” by its fans.
Q: Who is Sean?
A: You may know him as Matt Kameldorn from Anvil, Drew Domenick in Heresy, or as Killing Doctor Jon character Daniel Sean Ritter. His history opens with my fourth novel Operation Naji and continues in my eighth: King of a Lesser Hill. The Yemeni Package is my tenth novel and the fourth chapter of Sean’s File. In addition, Sean has a short story, Romeo Down.
The titles in this series are his back-story prior to the events of The Anvil of the Craftsman. He is the character to whom most people seem to have connected from the start, and the man certainly deserves to have his story told. In any case, he is the only character to appear in all of my novels to date, for reasons that become magnificently obvious.
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