Sure. The Diaries of Pontius is the title of my first novel. It’s a thriller and just about everyone that reads it agrees, it moves right along. I was shooting for a cross between Tom Clancy and Dean Koontz, with a touch of Frank Peretti.
The book opens when a member of an archeological team is murdered along the shores of the Dead Sea. We learn that the murderer and victim are both spies, observing the expedition and grappling with the fact that the team has just discovered some controversial artifacts.
In fact, Archeologist Kevin Elliot and his Deputy, Jill Gates have unearthed twenty copper scrolls etched with the results of Pontius Pilate’s year long criminal investigation into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They manage to open one scroll far enough to take a series of digital photographs of the writings and email them to a Professor of Ancient Latin for translation. Unaware of the scrolls content, Kevin and Jill are unprepared when they’re caught between an ancient conspiracy of global power that’s determined to destroy the scrolls and everyone connected to them, and a small, fledgling volunteer group, the only force on earth that stands between Kevin, Jill and certain death.
If you want to know more than that, you’re going to have to buy the book. It’s available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel.com, for sure.
2. Let’s talk about you. There’s a lot of action in the book, why not tell us about some of your experiences as a Green Beret and how that contributed to the realism of the book.
Honestly, I’m not sure that I can, for a number of reasons. One big reason is it was such a long time ago. Those experiences are almost like a part of my personality. This story might tell you just how long ago it was and how young I was. Back in those days, everything the Army issued you was “OD,” or “olive drab” green, except for underwear and towels – which were bright white for some reason. So after airborne, or jump school, I was very proud of the fact that I was now a paratrooper. So, I bought a red sweatshirt with a set of jump wings on it that said “Airborne.”
It was a Sunday night and I needed to do laundry for the platoon formation early the next morning. I took all my clothes and the new sweatshirt to the laundermat. I’d never done laundry before entering the Army, my mom did it. So, everything went into the washer with hot water. The uniforms were dark green, no problem, but, the underwear and towels all came out bright pink. It’s about 9 p.m., I’m out of money and we lived, back in those days, in wide open barracks with bunk beds for about 25 guys on a floor. The next couple days, parading around in my pink undies with my pink towel, were rather difficult ones for me.
3. What’s next as far as your writing is concerned? Are there more “Fellowship of the Essentials” books in the works or something else?
Right now, there are three Fellowship books, total: Diaries, a sequel with the same Fellowship characters – not Kevin and Jill, they get to live happily ever after, at least for now - but with a different protagonist. The sequel is done and I have a six page synopsis for the third book, but still don’t know how it’s going to end. Finally, I have an entirely different military-legal thriller set in post war Iraq that’s complete. I haven’t talked to my publisher at Trestle or my agent about that yet, but I and at least one of my pre-readers think it’s a wonderful book.
4. Those books are already written. Are you thinking about something else?
I am. I’ve thought a murder mystery of some kind, set in a county Courthouse, would be a great read. I worked in a Courthouse for a while and it’s such a unique, insular environment. Also, I’ve always been fascinated with the plight of someone wrongfully accused of a crime and how the accusation effects his life. Some years ago, I took a job as a public defender – a criminal defense lawyer for folks who can’t afford to hire a lawyer. The perspective there is very different than when you’re OJ Simpson and can hire a “dream team.” When you’re a poor guy, you get someone like me, or worse, and I’ve never been accused of being dreamy, believe me. It’s just the poor accused guy and a lawyer like me, versus the government. It’s hard to explain what that’s like, and even a defense lawyer, no matter how hard he tries to understand will never know what it feels like to face that machine. The government has battalions of lawyers, police officers, detectives, all kinds of technology, secretaries, receptionists – and you’ve got your government appointed lawyer. If an author, a novelist, not a non-fiction biographer, but a novelist, could know what that was like and would write about it, I think the result would be fascinating. I’ve a completed short story on the topic, which I may expand into a full length novel.
5. Would you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests, where would you like to travel if you could?
I like reading. More than anything that is my favorite hobby and has been since I’ve been 10 or 11 years old. It serves you well when you want to be a writer. My wife and I rescue standard rough haired collies – yes, the ones like Lassie, not the little shelties, the big ones. One of the things I love about collies is they’re as good looking on the inside as they are on the outside. My wife and I love ethnic food, all kinds - Indian, Cambodian, Chinese and Mexican in particular.
6. Before we wrap things up, where can people learn more about you and the book?
I have a website, www.josephmaxlewis.com where you can learn a little more about me, order Diaries from Amazon or B& N, read the first chapter of the book and read one of my opinion columns from the Leader-Vindicator. Finally, just click on the “GR” symbol at the top right of the page and that will take you to my blog on Goodreads. Stop by, ask a question, post a comment, I try to get back to everyone pretty quickly. Thanks.