So, when I heard another book exists that rivals Dan Brown’s stories, I could not pass up the chance to meet the mind behind that one. Meet Ken Atchity!
Here are the interview highlights:
The Messiah Matrix, an iconoclastic thriller that questions the origins of Christianity when the lead characters converge to uncover a secret the Vatican has protected for over two millennia.
What has inspired you to write this book?
My childhood fascination with the parallels between the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church.
Are you religious?
I’m definitely not religious, though I’m interested in the spiritual core and ritual of all religions. I’d call myself spiritual.
Have your religious views impacted this book (Messiah Matrix)? How?
My view of the dangers and damages of organized religion were a major impetus behind this book, which ends with a vision of how humanity can be spiritual without being fanatically organized.
How much of this book (Messiah Matrix) is fact vs. pure fiction?
That’s for the reader to decide. Anyone interested can request my long list of sources.
How has Dan Brown influenced your writing?
I decided to write this novel DESPITE its being similar to Dan Brown’s books, because I believe its premise is more revolutionary and thought-provoking than the premise of THE DA VINCI CODE, a book I admire.
Did you picture any specific real-life people when you created your characters?
I did have a person in mind for Emily Scelba, the heroine; and a few other characters as well. The most remarkable thing to report is that the book predicts not only a JESUIT pope but an ARGENTINE JESUIT pope. Don’t know what I was channeling at the time!
What was the oddest thing you ever had to research while writing?
Probably the diet of Caesar Augustus…
Who designed the cover on your book? (Who designs the covers on your books?)
A British designer designed the cover, James Reid. It rocks!
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change in your latest book?
I’d change the background on how Emily found an ancient Augustan aureus—and I may still do that.
How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It can range from a year to several. Messiah Matrix took about two years.
Do you have a day job? Family? How do you balance it all?
My day job is working with writers to develop their stories into books and films. A family? I’m married to a wonderful woman, and have two great children, and four grandchildren… How do make time to write? I prioritize it and keep my stopwatch running.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Steve Job’s autobiography.
If you were shipwrecked on an island, what three books would you want with you?
Wow. Great question. Probably Moby Dick, Don Quixote, and the Odyssey.
If you could have any author as a mentor, who would it be and why?
I had a wonderful mentor in John Gardner (On Moral Fiction, Grendel, Nickel Mountain, etc.). If I could have another, it’d be Dan Brown because I love how he thinks.
Has there ever been a movie that you thought was better than the book?
Yes, Prince of Tides is one example, though I loved the book too; and Birdy.
What tips do you have for aspiring writers? What have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned the only rules are never give up, and go for it! Great things are accomplished only by writers who don’t quit no matter how hard everything becomes.
What’s next for you? Any current/future writing project?
Always. I’m finishing a book of quotes for writers, then will edit and publish my second book of poetry (the first appeared in 1978), then another book for writers. I’m not planning to write another novel until I find another great story.
MORE ABOUT KEN…
With more than forty years experience in the publishing world, and twenty years in entertainment, Dr. Ken Atchity is a self-defined “story merchant” - writer, producer, career coach, teacher, and literary manager, responsible for launching dozens of books and films. His life’s passion is finding great storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters. Ken has produced 30 films and 14 books.
ABOUT THE MESSIAH MATRIX:
First Jesuit Pope predicted in THE MESSIAH MATRIX!
To what lengths would the Vatican go to suppress the secret origins of its power? Current papal politics has made this thriller eerily prophetic! The Messiah Matrix is a myth-shattering novel whose protagonists delve into the secrets of the past—and expose the fundamentalists who hide them still.
A renowned scholar-monsignor is killed in Rome while a Roman coin is recovered from a wreck off the coast of ancient Judea. It’s up to his young American protégé—a Jesuit priest—and a vivacious, brilliant archaeologist to connect these seemingly disparate events and unravel the tapestry that conceals in plain view the greatest mystery in the ecclesiastical world. Together they pursue their passion for truth—while fighting to control their passion for each other. What they uncover is an ancient Roman imperial stratagem so controversial the Curia fears it could undermine the very foundations of the Roman Catholic faith—much like the secrets emerging from the Vatican in today’s news.
From the ancient port of Caesarea to Rome’s legendary catacombs and the sacred caves of Cumae, this contemporary novel follows their exhilarating quest to uncover the truth about the historical existence of the real “Christian Savior.”