Michael J. Scott is the author of several series, including the Jonathan Munro books. Meet this talented author and learn what adventures await his readers.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel, The Coppersmith, came from a realization of how much St. Paul had suffered as a believer, and what would happen if he went through that today. Of course, today, no Western government would inflict that kind of torment on a man. It made sense that, if I were to describe martyrdom in a modern, western culture, it would occur at the hands of a madman. The story grew from there.
Tell us about your book – who are the main characters, what is the theme, how does it relate to readers?
The Elixir of Life is the second Jonathan Munro Adventure (the first being The Lost Scrolls). It picks up a little more than a year after we last saw Dr. Munro, and he is once more thrust into the same web of intrigue as he last endured. Only this time, the culprit is his ex-fiancé, Isabel Kaufman, who has teamed up with the former Irish terrorist turned mercenary Sean MacNeil. Together, they are in a quest to recover an artifact Izzy believes will give her significance, and she needs Jon’s expertise to help her find it. Jon, meanwhile, only wants to find his friend and colleague, Dr. Harry Bryce, who has been kidnapped by the very people Izzy is chasing.
The theme that runs through the book addresses the issue of demandingness, and how that impedes our ability to receive God’s kindness as a gift.
Once more, we get to explore faraway places that remain out of sight/out of mind for most Christians—especially here in America—but which were once quite significant in the two thousand year history of the Church. I hope readers will enjoy the adventure and the exposure to the larger culture of Christianity, especially in Western Europe.
What was the hardest/easiest part of writing this book?
As always, the hardest part of writing a book like this is getting the details of faraway places accurate. I do a lot of research, but I always feel a little hamstrung by the distance. When writing about Ankara in The Lost Scrolls, for instance, I could get many details about the city, except how it smelled (Yes, details like that matter!). In this book, we spend a lot of time in the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium. I’ve never been to Belgium except online, so it was both fascinating and challenging to describe it to readers. As was getting into ancient Ephesus, for that matter.
The easiest part, for this book, was getting back into the relationship between the characters. Sean, Izzy and Jon had all become quite real to me from the first book, and I enjoyed visiting with them again.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I suppose like any writer, I’d love to make a living from my writing. I’ve turned out almost a dozen novels since independently publishing my first in 2010, and I have a ton more I’d like to write. But more importantly, I like the potential that storytelling has to impact the world. It’s exciting to see one of my books on the shelf at the library (even more to not see it, which means someone is reading it), or to get reviews on Amazon where people are asking (demanding, even!) the next installment of a series. But my greatest joy—a humbling experience, too—came when I had a successful “giveaway” of The Coppersmith, where I saw almost 14,000 copies go out in a single week. I realized in that moment that I had just shared the gospel (which is in the story) with more than 14,000 people. That blew me away.
Tell us how you merge your faith and the craft of writing.
For me, writing is an expression of my worldview, which is Christian. I don’t start with any particular message to give, because I think that kind of writing becomes preachy and cheesy. I start and end with the story. But in crafting a story, I’m always conscious of whether or not the story reflects a Biblical worldview. That being said, I don’t shy away from the typical subjects considered taboo in most Christian fiction. I try not to be graphic in a way that leads people into sin (for example, if I’m writing a love scene, I strictly avoid anatomy), but I do try to be honest about the human condition and experience. The Bible itself is an honest, even explicit book—one that would garner an R rating if it were shown on the silver screen (could we really stand to watch Samson’s victory over the Philistines with a jawbone, or Samuel hewing Agog to pieces before king Saul?).
To me, what makes a book Christian is not the absence of sin per se, but rather the presence of Christ. That’s what I aim for. God with us in the midst of the junk of our messed up lives.
What is your favorite motivational phrase or Scripture?
Philippians 3:9 (NASB)” “…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” This is the verse that finally broke through the calcifications of religion in my skull and taught me that grace isn’t about how good or bad I am, but about how good Jesus is for me.
That being said, my life verse is Numbers 22:28 (King James):“And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass.” For some reason, I find that very comforting!
Where do you see publishing going in the future? Do you see new or changing trends for Christian writers and publishers and readers?
The walls of the forbidden city of publishing have come down, shattered by a tsunami called the Amazon Kindle. The gates are still standing, and the gate keepers are still in place for those who want to go through them (and some still do), but now writers can connect directly with their readers, and the market now determines who wins and who loses, instead of the publishers or agents. That means a lot of garbage and just bad writing is winding up on the market—but so is a lot of good writing that has been ignored or rejected by the mainstream press. Overall, I think this is very good. The market will decide based on the quality of the work as determined by the readers rather than by cultured elites. It has gotten both harder and easier to make it as an author. It’s far harder to stand out, but once you gain a following, it’s far easier to make a living doing this, because you have to sell far fewer books.
I suspect this will be the same for Christians. What will prove interesting is to what degree Christians will permit themselves to let go of the gatekeepers (i.e.: established publishers who can give the imprimatur of “doctrinal purity” to a book – though this hasn’t proven to be all that reliable) and take a risk on unknown authors.
What are you working on now? When might we see your next book?
I have several projects in the works, as always. I have an alien abduction story that ties into the whole Nephilim motif called Descent that should be coming out soon, as will my sequel to Spilled Milk and the next installment on my fantasy series, The Dragon’s Eye Cycle. And I just released the fourth Jefferson’s Road book, God and Country, about the differences between Christianity and Islam. Next year I have promised to write the second installment of New World Order called Anarchy to complement the first book Turning. And, of course, I’ll start work on a third Janelle Becker book to follow up The Coppersmith and Topheth.
The third Jonathan Munro Adventure is tentatively entitled The Music of the Spheres, and it sees Jon going to Russia. The Russian monk Rasputin figures into the story in a major way. That novel is about a third done, and I hope to have it finished sometime next year.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
I have a newsletter readers can sign up for on my website (www.michaeljscottbooks.com), and I love hearing from fans!