Tuesday, March 03, 2009

ERETZEL, by Willam McGrath

CFRB tours ERETZEL, by William McGrath this month. I will have a review later in the week, but for now I'd like to share with you an interview I had with the author. I hope you enjoy it.

CMW - Thank you for being here today Bill. I'm sure people want to hear more about your book ERETZEL, perhaps some things that we can't get in a review. So let's begin. ERETZEL is the 2nd book of yours we have had the privilege to tour. Bill, tell us how this book differs from ASULON. Were there different points you wanted to make?

WM - In Asulon, I had to introduce my characters and set up the situation in their world. In Eretzel, the main characters must face greater dangers and learn from their mistakes. In Asulon, the hero had to deal with a very personal concern; the death of a loved one. In Eretzel, all the characters must face a danger to their countries as a whole. In my third novel, Apocalypse, the whole world is at stake. The hero’s concern goes from himself, to his country, to the world.

CMW - That is truly amazing. I hadn't thought about it that way.

I can't help but notice that you are writing an end times fantasy, but it seems to be out of step with our time line. Why did you do that? I mean was there a reason for using swords, and wooden ships instead of current technology?

WM - I began writing this story in 1981 in response to a friend telling me about a movie about the Antichrist that I thought was very unbiblical (The Omen III). Therefore, I decided to write my own End Times story. I had read The Lord of the Rings a two years prior to this and it made a very strong impression on me. I thought it would be interesting to combine the two concepts into one story. There is an advantage to writing the story this way. It makes it much easier to use all the amazing creatures from the Bible verbatim and not change them into modern weapons as is sometimes done in other end times fiction. There is another reason for writing it as a fantasy though and it goes towards who I want to reach with this story. My intention was never to ‘preach to the choir’ with this story, but to send it out ‘eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners’. I really didn’t write it for practicing Christians, but for those who would not normally read a biblically based novel. I saw these books as a way to get people who didn’t normally read the Bible to get interested in reading the Great Story behind my little story.

CMW - I think you have succeeded, and I do indeed see some similarities between The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien and ERETZEL.

In ASULON Daniel falls in love with Rachael, and then Moor teaches him to discipline himself, because Daniel has the blood of angels in his veins. Yet in ERETZEL we find him winning her love back only to run into problems concerning the religion of the Abramim. Is Daniel ever going to get together with her, or is that something we will have to wait and see?

WM - In Asulon, Daniel is traveling across the ocean to marry one of Anak’s daughters. This is necessary for Daniel to become king of Asulon and also the way that his people enjoy twice the lifespan of normal men. On the voyage Daniel falls in love with Rachel. Moor realizes that this jeopardizes both Daniel’s kingship and the lifespan of his future children and trains Daniel in methods he believes will help him forget about his love. It doesn’t work of course and in Eretzel Daniel must win back Rachel’s love. Other problems arise once they bring Rachel back to her country. Though Rachel believes in Yeshua (Jesus) she is an Abramim (Jewish) by birth. The patriarch of her family forbids her from marrying anyone outside her own people. Throughout the story arch the hero meets the girl, looses the girl, wins her back partially, looses her again and of coarse (since you must have a happy ending in a good fantasy story) wins her in the end.

CMW - Yes, I confess I do like happy endings.

The names of a lot of the nations have been changed, although in some cases you have just written out things phonetically. How did you decide upon these names?

WM - My target audience for these books are teen boys. I choose names that are hidden just enough that a teenager will be able to figure which country I’m writing about if they do a bit of digging. The names I used were mostly the Biblical, Latin, Old English, historical or mythological versions of the modern names. When I couldn’t find something I liked in these, I use a classic writers technique used through out the ages and just wrote the name backwards. The exceptions to this would be Asulon, (my name for the U.S.) which means sanctuary or asylum in ancient Greek and Eretzel, which is a contraction of Eretz Israel, the official name of the modern country of Israel.

CMW - I've used similar techniques, especially writing a word backwards. Interesting.

Are you proposing end time doctrine in this fantasy, or are you just proposing some possibilities?

WM - I am neither a Bible scholar nor a prophet. I’m just a writer who is a Christian. My first priority is to tell a good story (using good in both senses of the word). However, it might help if I let you in on how I chose the views I did use in the story. My story takes a decidedly post-trib rapture view of the end times. That is the view of the early church fathers and of Bible teachers whom I respect. I think the pre-trib view used in many end times novels is a potentially dangerous bit of wishful thinking that has gotten popular mainly because it tells people what they want to hear. (Google the phrase “1840’s Millerites” to see an earlier example of this thinking in action).

However, my own personal belief is that the second coming of Christ will be just as hard to predict as his first coming. If you could go back in time and ask the top Bible scholars of 6 B.C. what their views were on the coming of the Jewish messiah, I don’t think any of them would have gotten the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus exactly right. Do I think the timeline I show in my books is the way things will happen? I don’t know. I just picked the theories that seemed the most logical to me. Whether they are the most logical to God is an entirely different matter.

Rather than the common seven year end times scenario you see in novels like mine, I think it is just as likely that all the prophecies in the Bible could have been fulfilled in sections dispersed throughout history and Jesus could return the moment after you finish reading this sentence.

CMW - I agree with you. Even with all the Scripture that talks about the coming events we have no conclusive details one way or the other. I believe that the pre-trib, post trib and even mid-trib viewpoints can be "proven" by Scripture. It seems that God has left this vague on purpose. (For non-Christians the terms used here pre-trib, post trib and mid trib refer to pre-tribulation, post-tribulation and mid tribulation as they refer to the return of Jesus)

I also notice the amount of detail you use whenever there is a sword fight, not to mention this is "The Sword of Fire" series. You also go into detail about how different swords are made and their uses. Is this because of your field of expertise?

WM - I’ve been studying a weapon’s based martial art since 1975 called Pekiti-Tirsia. I’ve also taken a number of knife and sword making classes and have lectured on the defensive use of knives at the New England Bladesmiths Guild seminar for the last twelve years. I wanted to work my experience in these subjects into my story. I like reading about sword fighting and such when I was a teen and I figured my target audience would too.

CMW - Would you tell our readers what Pekiti-Tirsia martial arts is all about.

WM - Pekiti-Tirsia is a Filipino martial art that emphasizes the use of weapons such as swords and knives. Rattan sticks are used as a training device for safety. You can see this art in use on my YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/TuhonBillMcg
You’ll find even more information on my website: www.pekiti.com

CMW - When can we expect your 3rd installment of "The Sword of Fire"?

WM - I’m working on it now. Asulon and Eretzel focus on the first half of the Tribulation. Apocalypse, the third book, will tell of the second half and that’s where the really big, bad stuff happens. It’s a big story, so it might take a while.

CMW - Don't take too long. We've come this far with you. It would be a shame to get lost because we forgot the story. I think you're already building a fan base. ;-)

If you had to pick out one thing you want your readers to take away with them from reading ERETZEL what would it be?

WM - Expect the unexpected, but trust God while doing so.

CMW - Excellent advice. As my pastor puts it, "Life happens, but we can always be lifted above our circumstances and situations if we realize that God is in control and if we place our hope, our trust in Him. Thank you so much for this great interview, for your time and for a great book.

You can purchase his book at:

Pekiti-Tirsia International



Barnes & Noble


You just got tagged. Follow the links below to find today's review, interview or whatever else the CFRB members have in store. It's up you you to find out who has posted for today. Even if you end up on someone's site who hasn't posted for today, I'm sure you'll enjoy the visit. And yes, there will be a new post somewhere every day among one of those listed, sometimes you may even find two posts.


cyn said...

Interesting interview with well-thought-out questions and responses. From all teh blog posts I've read, it sounds like Mr. McGrath put a lot of time and effort into researching this novel.


David said...

McGrath's The Sword of Fire trilogy is a unique work, at least as far as his first 2 installments go. Not only is this book well-thought out, but is fun to read, even with all the description in his work. For the most par William McGrath does something I find few well-known authors do or even capable of doing, and that is using action to describe things. The plus in doing this is the story never lags. Something is always happening, and that makes for a truly great work.

Frank Creed said...

I know Mr. McGrath spoke of fantasy here, but I've seen others on the tour refer to his books as another speculative fiction sub-genre: alternate history.

If he finds this note, I'd like William to talk more about how readers are viewing this trilogy's sub-genre.


David said...

Well Frank, it is definitely fantasy, but whether or not it falls in the category or sub-category of speculative fiction depends on how you interpret speculative fiction. Does the inclusion of angels and giants move it into that category? For me the term "speculative fiction" leaves something to be desired. Literally it means fiction that follows a certain speculation. However, in looking at LGG I realize that it takes more than that to qualify as speculative fiction. Perhaps an alternative name that identifies this sub-genre is in order, if you can find one.



Tangerine by Marilynn Griffith

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Tangerine (Revell, January 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of *GULP* seven!)


Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and If the Shoe Fits (Revell, 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email: marilynngriffith@gmail.com.


Tangerine is the third book in the Shades of Style Novels.

Fans of Pink and Jade will eat up Tangerine, the third book in the cutting-edge Shades of Style series. Jean Guerra, a designer at Garments of Praise design firm, doesn't like surprises. These days though, the unexpected meets her everywhere. Since Jean's return to the church a year ago, her God-encounters occur with increasing frequency, along with thoughts of her husband-the one she vowed to divorce and gave up on long ago. The one nobody at work knows about, not even her best friend, Lily, or her boss, Chenille. But when the designer assigned to work with Jean on a line of men's suits shows up, her heart flips. It's her husband, Nigel Salvador. Jean is finally rendered speechless. Can her bruised heart become whole enough to love again? Or will she remain in the trenches of loneliness forever?

The book link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0800730429

Marilynn's website link: http://marilynngriffith.typepad.com/rhythmsofgrace/

THE 3RD COVENANT - a Comparison

The following table shows where THE 3RD COVENANT stands against 7 top authors and 14 other books.



Times out

times per month

Judge and Jury

Cold Moon

Death Dance

Promise Me

The 3rd Covenant

The Camel Club

Violet Dawn

3rd Degree

The Collectors

Web of Lies

The 12th Card

Words of Silk

Above and Beyond


No Second Chance

James Patterson

Jeffery Deaver

Linda Fairstein

Harlan Coben

David Brollier

David Baldacci

Brandilyn Collins

James Patterson

David Baldacci

Brandilyn Collins

Jeffery Deaver

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown

Linda Fairstein

Harlan Coben


CHO 17

CHO 17

CHO 16

CHO 11

CHO 21


CHO 34



CHO 17

CHO 29

CHO 30

CHO 19

CHO 31