My guest today is author Gene Masters. I have interviewed Gene in the past, when he released his highly successful first novel, Silent Warriors: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific. However, currently, my publishing house, Escarpment Press, is pleased to announce the publication of Gene’s latest, and, perhaps most controversial book, The Wounds of Jonas Clark. This is a religious-themed novella, totally different from Gene’s three previous works. So, the obvious question to you, Gene, is why the radical departure?
Gene – Actually, Joe, it really isn’t that much of a departure. I had been thinking about writing this story even while I was still writing Silent Warriors. In fact, I started actually writing it before I started writing Operation Exodus and The Laconia Incident. It’s been about four years in the works. So, just maybe, it’s the other three books that are the radical departure!
Joe – Well that’s not the answer I expected. I didn’t realize you had started The Wounds of Jonas Clark back then. Maybe you should tell us a little about the book.
Gene – Okay. Jonas Clark is a 33-year-old, very successful investment banker, living the good life in New York City. But then, one Friday morning, he wakes up in bed next to his girlfriend and they’re both covered in blood—his blood, as it turns out. Somehow, during the night, both his hands and his feet have been pierced clean through. Obviously, they both freak out.
Joe – So the obvious question is: did his girlfriend do this to him? Or, did Jonas do this to himself? Is this some strange new disease, or has something supernatural just happened? So . . . which is it?
Gene – Well if I told you that, what would be the point of reading the book?
Joe – I guess you’re right. So, would it be fair to classify this as a mystery?
Gene – It’s certainly a mystery to Jonas. Anyway, that’s all I’m willing to tell you.
Joe – Okay, okay. I get it. folks will have to buy the book to find out what happens. So I know you’re a Catholic, and the books seems to reflect a Catholic point of view. Do you think non-Catholics would enjoy it?
Gene – I should hope they would. Look, I’ve been a Catholic and a regular church-goer all my life; and for that I’m neither bragging nor apologizing. I wrote what I know, from the perspective of what Catholics believe, but tried to present it in such a way that anybody else, regardless of their religious persuasion, wouldn’t be offended. After all, comparative religion scholars do this all the time: investigate what other people believe, accept that they believe it, and leave it at that. If reading The Wounds of Jonas Clark makes you more spiritual, more in contact with your Creator, and more forgiving of others, then I would be ecstatic. I am afraid, however, that atheists might have a hard time with this book.
Joe – Well, I guess that’s their problem. On an unrelated subject, how are you and your wife faring with this pandemic? Has it affected your writing in any way?
Gene – Ruth and I are coping. We’re both well into the high-risk age group, Ruth’s immune system is compromised, and so we are restricting our outside contacts even more than most. But it’s not that we got out all that much, even before this thing hit. What hurts most is that we can’t really entertain any visits from friends or family.
As for the writing, you would think that being stuck at home would give me plenty of time to pursue it—and it does. I’m just not taking advantage of it! That might be just plain laziness. But then again, maybe not, because I’m also reading more. We’ve gotten into some container gardening, and we’re growing herbs, peppers, and tomatoe—lots of tomatoes. Then again, we’re also both spending more time in front of the TV, so maybe there is some laziness involved after all!
Joe – I can’t see calling you lazy—not after writing and publishing four books in the last two and a half years! I’d say you’ve done quite a lot with your time. But, just for laughs, what’s your next project?
Gene – Funny you should ask. Actually, I’m heading back to the historical novel.
Joe – No!
Gene – Yes! Only this time the action takes place in pre-Christian Rome. We all know who Julius Caesar was, thanks mostly to Shakespeare, but the emperor had a life before he was murdered by some Roman senators—and that’s what I’ve chosen to write about.
Joe – Now that’s a twist. Tell me more.
Gene – I thought readers might like to know what the young Julius Caesar’s early life might have been like. This book will be a fictional account of that part of his life. I’ve started writing a bit of it, but the amount of research required is staggering. The problem is that everything I’m writing about happened so long ago; no two sources agree on the timing nor the details. And that’s a bit frustrating. But it’s also a bit liberating, because then I can pick the timing and the details that make for the most interesting story!
Joe – It sounds like it will make a terrific story. But back to The Wounds of Jonas Clark. When will it be available?
Gene – Actually, it’s available for pre-order now for Kindle through Amazon.com, and other Ebook distributors like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Anyone ordering it now will have it wirelessly delivered on September 15th, which is when the paperback will also become available.
Joe – That’s great, Gene. And thanks so much for spending some time with me today.
Gene – It was my pleasure.
NOTE: Here’s a link to Gene’s Masters’ Author Central page on Amazon, where you can find out more about him and his other books.