Today, I’m so, so excited to have Joseph Finley in the hot seat. After reading Enoch’s Device, I had a few questions about our brave Irish monks and the story that befell them. So here it is, one mostly Irish person to another. Enjoy!
About the Author:
Joseph Finley is a writer of historical fantasy fiction. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, daughter, and two rescue dogs. He also posts regularly at Fresh-scraped Vellum (fresh-scrapedvellum.blogspot.com), a blog devoted to historical and fantasy fiction. God saw fit to make him Irish, at least in part, so he comes honestly by his fondness for the Irish and their medieval monks. Enoch’s Device is his debut novel.
I have a strong fascination with Celtic and Irish lore, and this book filled me to the brim with everything I love in mythology, with a healthy dose of apocalyptic craziness to top it all off. How did you tie all of it together?
First off, thanks for the wonderful opportunity to appear on your blog, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the novel! As for your question, it all started with the Book of Enoch, which talks about rogue angels and their giant offspring wreaking mayhem on earth before the biblical flood. From there I began to realize how similar this story was to other mythologies, which led to a theory (the one Thomas poses in the novel) about a universal origin of myth. What if all the various mythologies—Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, etc.—stemmed from the same source? It turns out that Irish and Celtic myths have similarities to Enochian myth, as well as other mythologies, so it all just fell into place. As for the apocalyptic angle, the Book of Enoch contains its own End of Days prophecy, which dovetails with the book of Revelation. Add in apocalyptic stories from other mythologies, such as the Norse myth of Ragnarok, and it all just came together like one big puzzle.
I have to admit—I adored Donall and Ciaran (mostly Donall because…well…he’s amazing). What was behind the decision for them to be monks? Was this something you came up with initially or something that came to be as you developed and researched your idea?
They were always monks. Since the mystery in “Enoch’s Device” involves a lot of history—and old and arcane books—I needed educated characters who could read both Latin and Greek. Back in the tenth century, the most educated and well-read folks were likely to be monks, since all that many of them did was copy old books all day long. Couple this with the religious/end times plotline, and monks seemed like the natural choice for Ciaran and Donall.
Speaking of research, what was the most surprising thing you found while digging into history and folklore?
On the folklore side, it was really the connection that the Four Hallows of Ireland had with other myths and legends. The four hallows, which consisted of a sword, a stone, a spear (or staff), and a cauldron, are the same four objects that make up the minor arcana in the Tarot, and which relate to the four elements: air, earth, fire, and water. This is true across a number of mythologies, and I never knew this until I began the research for “Enoch’s Device.” On the history side, I was really surprised at how vastly more sophisticated Moorish society was compared to Christian Europe in terms of medicine, mathematics, architecture, and literacy. It was truly an astounding gap. And the fact that the caliph’s library in Cordoba contained more books than probably all of France at the time was mindboggling.
Do you have a favorite Irish myth?
Undoubtedly, it’s the story of the Tuatha De Danann and their battle with the Formorians. The Tuatha De Danann were almost Avengers-like heroes. Whether they were Fae or the old Irish gods, they were armed with four sacred, magical weapons (the four hallows) and fought for the fate of Ireland against giant-like enemies whose leader was called Balor of the Evil Eye. Their tale is a lot like the great stories from Norse mythology with Thor, Loki, Odin and the like. So naturally, I made the Tuatha De Danann and their four hallows part of the mythology of “Enoch’s Device.”
I know there’s a sequel. TELL ME ALL OF IT NOW. Or at least give our lovely people at home an idea of what happens in book 2 and any other plans you have for the future.
Without spoiling the end of the first book, Ciaran and his friends still have parts of the prophecy to fulfill, the next of which is a mysterious journey that begins and ends with sacrifice. I won’t give away the journey’s purpose—since that’s part of the central mystery in the next book—but it will take them to a bunch of interesting locations including Stonehenge and elsewhere in England, which was being ravaged by Vikings back then (Vikings are always fun!), as well as to medieval Rome, which holds more than a few secrets in its ancient ruins. There’s a bigger connection to the book of Revelation in the sequel, and even more at stake for Ciaran, Alais, and the people they care about. There will even be a third book before it’s all over, but right now, I’m still working on book two and am really enjoying how the story’s unfolding.
Paperback (Barnes & Noble): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enochs-device-joseph-finley/1114021182?ean=9780988410824&isbn=2940016140377