Angels of Apocalypse, Part I: Alignment, Release Date 10/27/2011
Historical Fiction/Fantasy/SciFi/SpiritualityAvalibale in print and on Amazon
Welcome, J.J. Harkin.
Thanks for having me, Christina.
When did you start writing?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and have done quite well in my English classes, but I didn’t come up with an actual idea for a book until February, 2010. For some reason I felt compelled to halt everything as that year began. It was very strange. I quit my job on January 6th, 2010, and within two months had the ideas which resulted in three books!
Your tale is so fascinating! Tell me about your journey, from writing to publishing, your first novel.
As I began I wasn’t even aware of the explosion in opportunities for indie authors, but I’m getting the idea now. I started with a vision of the book’s ending, so I’ve written the entire trilogy backwards, as many authors do. The writing process for Angels of Apocalypse was rather like sorting through my feelings. In an effort to reach the predestined end I would place multiple options clearly before myself, and then wait a while until my heart could decide which it preferred. Thereafter I would allow my mind in to sort out the details, creating the connective tissue of the book. I most want readers to know that writing Angels of Apocalypse has been a spiritual endeavor for me. As the son of a preacher I was raised in a highly Christian environment, but this book does not reflect that. If Angels of Apocalypse is anything, it is an answer to slanted works such at Left Behind, which seem to place Christianity on a pedestal above other faiths. This is a truly ecumenical book.
Intriguing! Tell me about Angels of Apocalypse, Part I: Alignment. What is it about?
Alignment is a tale of how the conquest of Parallel Earth began – a compendium of all the circumstances which brought about the end of the age in that world. In seventeen chapters, all separated by short commercial breaks called “vignettes,” I lay before readers every character they need to get to know, and demonstrate their interconnectivity. A summary of Alignment goes something like this:
As apocalypse descends upon Parallel Earth, Talman Abasi Ahmad’s machinations of deceit are already drawing victims inextricably toward the cauldron of death he so eagerly stirs; but a secret coven of angelic operatives oppose him from the opposite side of the planet, and their technologies are quickly advancing. It all begins when Den Ulrik’s curiosities concerning alternative energies lure him to a mysterious island in the South Pacific. This seems a waste of time to his superstar girlfriend, Maria, but to her father, Talman – a magnate of the oil industry – it is a veritable declaration of war. Meanwhile, far stranger – though initially seemingly unrelated – mysteries begin unfolding in the
Middle East, while reports of unexplained deaths, kidnappings, and disappearances increase there by the day. Most unexpectedly, a man named Sémeion Shosheqets appears in at that time, daily performing wondrous signs. Amid the tumult of those times also arises the Mahdi, bearing an unexpected message of peace, and the revelation of Talman’s devilish nature. As her relationship with Den crashes and burns, Maria encounters her own father’s deadly servants while investigating Talman’s plans, quickly becoming drawn into his web of lies. By the end of Alignment, Den develops a form of hydrogen power which would actually work in our own world, and becomes surrounded by innumerable helpful companions, including an adorable dachshund and even a robotic spider. By the end of the trilogy, Talman will learn he is nothing more than an instrument of the divine, and that all he regarded evil was nothing more than a plan long prepared. Israel
This still leaves much to be said, however. The book is called Alignment because it tells how the population of Parallel Earth became divided into two distinct groups: those loyal to Talman, and those loyal to Den. Though Maria and Den part ways, her story quickly becomes the most telling, as her path is the darkest. Swiftly Alignment becomes a cautionary tale of a young woman slowly realizing her father is far more terrible than any of his enemies might ever have told her. As Den learns much the opposite about his own family, we even begin to see some of the spiritual mechanics beyond the veil, and understand that everyone has become embroiled in a plan long prepared. When an ancient book is discovered in
by a mysterious man the locals refer to as “al-Mahdi,” the plot thickens even further. By the end of Alignment every loose end will be uncovered – every question asked – leaving readers fully prepared to learn everything as they open Abominations. Syria
What inspired you to write a novel dealing with heavy and controversial topics, such as angels, parallel dimensions, and the apocalypse?
The need to place the trilogy in a parallel universe sprang from the process of writing the book. There are three books in the Angels of Apocalypse trilogy: Alignment, Abominations, and Apotheosis. I wrote them all at once, planning to simply do one large book at first, and thereafter gradually realized that they needed to be broken up into separate parts. My motivation in writing the books was to open a forum with readers within which I could discuss the future of our planet. After all, it is 2012, and everyone’s got Mayans on the mind; I just wanted to discuss the contents of our collective subconscious in an effort to patch up any unnecessary fears or misunderstandings before the year was out. This posed a massive problem, however, as the tendency under such a circumstance would be for the public to assume I’ve created a book of would-be prophecies, which was not the point at all. After careful thought, I therefore developed the trilogy into a detailed account of what the end of the age might look like in a parallel universe. This way I could discuss the potentialities of the future without confusing readers into thinking I’m predicting it.
The plot of the book actually deals with the likelihood of parallel universes in more ways than that, however. I wanted to see what a book would look like if nearly every Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Atheist prediction of our future came true simultaneously. As these four viewpoints tend to be quite opinionated, if not self-righteous, I also wanted to see what the story would look like if none of the parties involved ended up being more right than any of the others. I wanted to demonstrate the equivalency of religions and the impartiality of God, so I took notes on every prophecy I could find from any source, and proceeded to interweave nearly all of them into one vast, intermingled tale, like a tapestry. The result is a world where angels stand beside the main characters unseen, in a parallel dimension. The result is a world where one God stands behind the motivations of all peoples, secretly working toward their highest good. Most importantly, the result is a story about apocalypse which really does have a happy ending, and I hope that is what readers most take away from the books. The Greek root word "apokálypsis" actually only means "lifting of the veil" or "revelation." What’s so scary about that?
I’ve heard readers describe your writing style as a mix between JK Rowling and Dan Brown. What an impressive compliment! How do you feel about these comparisons?
The praise is probably too high, but I’ll take it! The Dan Brown comment must be a reference to the fact that I love to reassess history with an eye for detail. Weaving the traditions of so many religions into one yarn was an effort which required a real sense of balance, as well as a lot of knowledge and research, and that’s the sort of thing I’m good at. I grew up on Bible stories, and I still love them, but this was my effort to create a new Bible story where Christians are no more right about God than anybody else. It just seemed like the only fair and historically accurate way to tell the tale. God loves us all equally. That is what I believe.
The J. K. Rowling comment must be a reference to the direction which Alignment takes from the very start. By the fifth chapter the story’s most prominent villain, Talman, is already openly using a technology which allows him to seamlessly project false images into the minds of anyone he wants. The result is a scenario in which his victims become suddenly plunged into an augmented reality without even realizing it’s there. Under such circumstances the capabilities of characters like Talman become indistinguishable from magic, so that the tale quickly develops into a description of many wondrous events, both real and feigned. But perhaps the Rowling comparison is only due to the fact that I do not lecture readers. The plot alone demonstrates everything I have to say. It is nothing but a quaint story, filled with endless twists and turns.
What are you most looking forward to in 2012?
Within the next month I will have finished editing Angels of Apocalypse, Part II: Abominations. Whereas Alignment might be considered the opening of the story, Abominations is where the sense of danger and conflict truly begins. Here’s a sneak preview of Abominations’ dust jacket blurb:
As apocalypse advances upon Parallel Earth, questions are accumulating faster than answers. Maria Archangeline is with child, but clearly mistaken about the identity of the father. Just how long might that last? In Damascus, Muhammad Abdullah has indeed found enlightenment, thankfully beginning his labor of peace, but is he too late? The last battle seems nearly knocking at his door. Just to the south, Prime Minister Shosheqets struggles blindly still, in great need of council, desperately but unsuccessfully trying to steer Israeli events away from war. Yet where the abominable creations of Talman Abasi Ahmad may be found, his manipulations are never far behind. In one sweeping act he will set off the chain of events which precipitates Armageddon; in one fell swoop the balance of power will shift. But will all go as planned? In Angels of Apocalypse, Part II: Abominations, the deepest secrets of the enemy are at last uncovered, as Talman’s peers defiantly begin introducing themselves to the world.
And it seems the greatest of these peers cannot be intimidated by any means. On the other side of the planet, in the lavish villa built upon Den’s South Pacific island, an old intelligence has recently awakened. For some time scientists and engineers have been arriving there excitedly, as rumors of a “New Robotic Dawn” spread like wildfire. Before long the islanders’ progress is ramped up exponentially; within months new technologies are honed, until one of Talman’s most cunning slaves even defects. The Grand Dragon is certain, however, that a traitor still remains amongst his servants. Who might it be? As finding a fitting test to divine the answer seems near impossible, he releases his first assault. Far too soon, Den and his companions find themselves drawn into the fiery conflicts of the Middle East, where rumors of magic and mutation abound at the end of all things. By the close of this, the second volume of the Angels of Apocalypse trilogy, a new theory of interfaith interconnectivity will emerge to foul the press of war, but will it be enough? Will anybody care? Or has Talman already won? Is he playing some deeper game?
Thank you for the invitation.
I look forward to finding out the answers to all of these questions! Thank you so much for your time.