R Y A N G E R A R D
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I've always been a dreamer. Writing stories and creating fantastic worlds in my head. As a child, I would always play dress up. The proverbial 'Cops and Robbers', 'Cowboys, Robin Hood. I used to make my own props, and use water guns as weapons. I made the Dick Tracy watch communicator out of cardboard and dressed up like him. I've always reveled in the lonely hero archetype and looking at my life now is funny, because though I never exactly vowed to become my archetype, it seems I may have subconsciously willed myself to become like this. I have subsequently been drawn into the dark romance with the dark hero. The anti-hero. Not the polished super hero with perfect hair and a square jaw, no--the uncut, raw emotion, attitude chocked, rugged, bad-ass dude who is still so loveable. Among my favorites growing up were Indiana Jones and Han Solo. There was a time when I seriously wanted to grow up to be 'Indiana Jones'. Then I discovered the Die Hard movies, a little older now, and I started my love affair with John Mclane; the cowboy cop from New York. I wanted to be him so bad!
Now, I'm a 32 year old husband and father of 5 children. I work as a Special Constable with the police force in Toronto. As a member of law enforcement, I have poured many of my own insights into this book.
One of the prominent concepts in this book is the idea that there is an unseen sense of discontentment that exists within each of our souls--"there is something wrong with the world!" A feeling that we all inevitably fall victim to. Among my hero complex, this is also something I struggled with as I transitioned through adolescence. As a result I both loved and hated the world. Two opposing forces were, and still are in some ways, at conflict with each other constantly. Many of these concepts and themes are discussed at length throughout the book. I really wanted the book to be a commentary on this over lying sense that our world is sick and needs saving. That despite all the evil and corruption, it's also a beautiful place and that human life is worth saving...
The idea for this book spawned way back for me. The basic plotline of this story was one that got into my head around the time I was 18. It was during a period where I was at the pinnacle of experiencing those "feelings" about the world and the human condition. The year was 2001 and I had been anticipating the release of the new album from 'Payable On Death' ( P.O.D.) I remember the promo sticker I picked up at the concert that summer. I had it slapped onto my computer. The release date became one of the most memorable dates in our history--it read; 09.11.01 ( September 11th, 2001! )
Obviously the world changed that day and I had forgotten all about the album's release. My high school was right across from a Future Shop store and a lot of us herded across to watch the news coverage on the giant wall of TV's they had at the back of the store. While I was there I walked past the display for P.O.D.'s new album 'Satellite' and remembered.
In the days that followed my feelings about the world increased times a thousand! I struggled more with confusion and existence but, funny enough, that album and the lyrics of the songs were some of the most influential lyrics in my young life. The album quickly became the de facto soundtrack to my life and helped me deal with the emotions I had been feeling at the time. One song on the album; track number 8, quickly became my favorite tune of all time. 'The Messenjah'. It's power, energy, and hopeful message filled me up and coincidently enough planted a seed...
I grew up in a Christian household going to church. Amidst the usual Sunday School stories of Moses, Joseph, Jonah and the Whale, David and Goliath, was also the story told in the gospels regarding this man called Jesus. You start to pick up more and more details as you get older, and by the time I started hearing that Christ's own people rejected him and put him to death I started to wonder...
The people always painted a picture of the Jews and religious leaders, people they called Pharisees, who grew angry with Christ for saying and doing the things he did--to the point of wanting him murdered! I wondered...would it really be any different if it happened today instead. I mean, we have the full story now and it's easy for us to say; 'how could they not have seen who he was?' or 'how did they not get it?' But...The Jews had been in captivity and under Roman oppression for years and they were waiting for this founded person called 'The Messiah'. In their minds he was supposed to be some type of military general who came and wiped away the Roman rule and rescued them. Then this guy shows up saying 'he's the guy' and he is not what they wanted or expected. He ends up making them all look ridiculous as they have messed up religion so bad for the people and he tells them they got it all wrong! I think many religious people in today's day and age would be outraged if some guy started saying that they aren't practicing their faith in the intended way and that all their laws and practices were false. Imagine that.
Anyways, I had seen so many movies and stories where they were telling old stories in a modern day setting; Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo and Juliette for one--swords being guns instead--it intrigued me. The idea developed into wanting to tell that gospel story if it were to happen for the first time in history, in present day instead of when it did--and that was the basic plotline of the story I wanted to tell. Time Travel was the obvious choice to make this work and I developed the idea of the government experimenting with time when something happens to screw it up. Some event had to happen that would make it so the machine didn't travel anyone through time but instead shifts the space time continuum--jumbles it up so that all the events of history get mixed up.
Once that idea was established, I was left with a looming 'now what' type of feeling. How do I now tell this story? I said to myself; what if the story followed one particular character instead of making the Messiah figure the main focus? What if I told someone else's story and their experiences how they move through the whole gospel event?
Then I started to develop the anti-hero archetype. John Revele is actually a character from another script I wrote in high school called "The White Wings". It was a story about an ancient arch angel who fought for the souls of man against demons and devils.
( Side Note )The name of the scientist character in this story; Jason Richter is also a name from that script. Richter was actually the villain in that story, but I chose to pull that name for this supporting character because I liked the fact that both characters being flawed, anti-hero types shared the initials 'JR' and that they were linked together in this way. Another character 'Maggie' in this book was a character also pulled from my amateur script. Maggie is a variation of Magdalene--the prostitute from the Bible. Every name in the book has some sort of trick or meaning to it. There is a character named 'Sexrex' who is Xerxes, from biblical times, spelled backwards. Another character is named 'Sean Ahab Mash'--Ahab being one of the worst of the biblical figures called Judges, and Sean Mash is a letter jumble--unscrambled is; Manasseh--another one of the worst Judges.
So the name 'John Revele' was a little bit of a mix of elements. John, from my man crush on John Mclane, and the character had all the elements of the anti-hero complex. The last name Revele is an abbreviation of the word 'Revelation'--the apocalyptic book of the Bible describing the end times. Because of the name John I decided to make him a version of the biblical; John The Baptist--and the title of the book was formed that day.
So then what? Now I had a simple plotline and a main character, and a title...How was I going to tell this story. Because I wanted to incorporate the elements of those "feelings" relating to the human condition and have it be kind of a social commentary on our times, I thought; "what if the character was sort of a vigilante type who fought evil on the streets?" And then the idea of him being a police officer came to light, and then I realized that I would eventually need to explain his involvement with the whole Messiah character and his reactions to it all. Going back to my original idea of the space time continuum getting messed up; I thought that it could be John who ends up screwing up the experiment somehow.
Now with all these elements, I thought I had enough to sit down and begin writing.
So...that's what I did. It was originally my intention to become a great film director or editor or screen writer, but when real life happened; meeting my wife and having my children, the bohemian dream of living off of nothing while trying to break into the industry soon did not make sense. I had to decide between providing for my family and that life, and when my current job in law enforcement came around I would have to take it.
The idea of this story sat in limbo for a very long time as I developed it in my mind over many years. It wasn't until I was 28 years old that I decided to stop holding back and just start writing it as a novel. I tried developing it as a graphic novel idea, and even drew the first few pages, but again...it became increasingly clear that a novel was the most feasible option for me. I wrote the prologue of the book which has since changed, but the piece I had written was just a test--a modern day telling of the Christmas story happening in 2015. After that I again left it by the wayside for another while until I really started writing more and more. The book's first draft was completed in 2014 and over the last couple years has developed into what it is now.
CONCEPT & THEORY
I've grown up in Church culture my whole life. I've done the Sunday School thing, I've done the Youth Group thing, and the Bible study thing. I've done all the 'church things'. I've made some great friends along the way, but some of my closest and dearest relationships have been with people who aren't immersed in church culture.
Again, going back to these dark feelings I had about life, I had, and still have, some of the deepest conversations about my issues with people who don't share my faith. In fact it's always been something I have been afraid to speak to 'church people' about, for fear of being judged. Unfortunately, church had become this 'Shiny/Happy place' where everyone smiled, everyone shook your hand, invited you to events, but...then what? Somewhere along the way I had to ask myself why that was. What is wrong with this thing we believe that no one on the outside wants to accept?
I kept hearing crazy theories that people were just 'set in their ways' and were happy with 'being bad'. I don't think that's the case. No one likes to be bad. I mean, who wants to be the badguy? We don't watch movies or read stories and root for the badguy. That only happens if the producers have done this little story telling trick called 'the centre of good'. It's a technique used to make the viewers/readers like the character who would normally be classified as 'the badguy'. Robin Hood for example. Outlaw stories. They achieve this by giving the character some traits that people can admire; such as empathy, or love in a small way--enough to make us want to see them win or be saved. But this leads me to believe that no one wants to be bad. It's a matter of people do like to simply 'be people'--"I'm only human"--as that saying goes. It's glamorous and liberating to be human. And you'll see all these bumper stickers or clothing lines that say things like; 'born to be bad' or 'naughty' and all these types of stuff. It could be easy to draw that conclusion of people wanting to be bad...but if you think about a little longer, and actually contemplate for a second...I do not believe that that stems from a desire to actually be evil, but rather, it's a form of rebellion and more of a statement of the 'anti-goody-two-shoes'.
I believe that most people outside of any type of church culture--or even those within--have a fear that being a church person means you have to be perfect to be accepted. I had, and still have friends, that, despite being involved in church, hid their smoking habits from others because they were afraid of what they would say or think. And grown adults who hid the fact that they occasionally had a beer for the same reasons.
NOW...I'm not at all saying we don't have to be careful--of course we do! Of course we do! There is so much in this world that ANY human could fall victim too, and it doesn't matter either way--church or not. But, I don't think God intended us to be these pictures of goody-two-shoes, perfect, stained glass window, hands pressed together, upwards turned faces, Michelangelo paintings type of people. But the problem is, that's what people on the outside see. That's all they see! All they get is the Sunday School version of the story. So when they grow up and realize that they can't possibly measure up...they give up. Church continues to be a place where they are constantly judged and made to feel guilty. They don't want to be the 'Shiny/Happy' people. They want to be themselves, and they want to be accepted as they are.
That's what this story is. A real, honest, raw and grimy story, about real-life. This is not your typical church book. If you're expecting something like the Kirk Cameron 'Left Behind' series, or 'Fireproof' or even 'Courageous' then this may not be the book for you...