Author Interview: Joseph Finley

Author PhotoToday, 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.

EnochDevice-1400x2240Enoch’s Device is available at:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-ebook/dp/B00ARPYW02/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Paperback (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-Joseph-Finley/dp/0988410826/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Paperback (Barnes & Noble): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enochs-device-joseph-finley/1114021182?ean=9780988410824&isbn=2940016140377

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Review: Enoch’s Device – Cate’s Take

Genre: Religious thriller

Rating: YAY

When the Franks come to Ireland in search of a heretic, Brother Ciaran is thrown into a world of magic, Fae, and apocalyptic prophecies. Alongside his father-figure-slash-mentor Donall mac Taidg, he works to solve the riddles of Enoch’s Device, riddles which span over thousands of years and nearly every myth known to man. From the Nephilim of Judeo-Christianity to the Fae of Irish lore, the mythos of this book follows historical events as well as incorporating each of the world’s major religions. And it does it so well.

Any time a book attempts to unify the multiple mythologies of the world, it can go one of two ways: 1) It becomes a far-reaching mess of conjecture and grasping at straws, or 2) it manages to succeed in some parts, but not all because of the scope of the book. Somehow Finley connects the dots in a way that really made me wonder if the myths he incorporates truly have the same starting point.

The writing is beautifully fluid and transports the reader to the book’s various Dark Ages locations—Ireland; Cordoba, Spain; Paris; Selles-Sur-Cher in Central France, just to name a few. With Finley’s well-crafted characters, we journey through so many different locales and meet such interesting people.

There’s a definite good-vs.-evil vibe through this book, and in some instances, you don’t know entirely who’s playing on which side. A few times, I thought I had it pegged just to be proven wrong. There are a lot of twists and turns, several unexpected (and gruesome) deaths, and a lot of ground to cover. All in all, a refreshing twist on the religious thriller, and one that will have you turning pages from cover to cover as fast as you can.

Also, Donall is awesome.

There are a few places toward the middle of the book where I got lost and had to reread a few times, and a couple of times toward the end, I wasn’t sure of who was whom, so you may want to watch out for that. Also, there is a fair bit of surprising violence, and also a rape (which does have a purpose). If these things make you squelchy, you may want to steer away from this one.

Otherwise, GO GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY.

Good for fans of: mythology, religious thrillers like The Da Vinci Code, Irish monks being badass, apocalyptic prophecy, and magic.

Enoch’s Device is available at:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-ebook/dp/B00ARPYW02/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Paperback (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-Joseph-Finley/dp/0988410826/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Paperback (Barnes & Noble): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enochs-device-joseph-finley/1114021182?ean=9780988410824&isbn=2940016140377

This Week’s Read: Enoch’s Device by Joseph Finley

EnochDevice-1400x2240

Nearly a thousand years after the birth of Christ, when all Europe fears that the world will soon end, an Irish monk, Brother Ciarán, discovers an ominous warning hidden in the illuminations of a religious tome. The cryptic prophecy speaks of Enoch’s device, an angelic weapon with the power to prevent the coming apocalypse.

Pursued by Frankish soldiers and supernatural forces, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor, Brother Dónall, journey to the heart of France in search of the device. There, they rescue the Lady Alais from a heretic-hunting bishop who insists mankind must suffer for its sins. Together the trio races across Europe to locate the device, which has left clues of its passage through history. But time is running out, and if they don’t find it soon, all that they love could perish at the End of Days.

Enoch’s Device is a fast-paced medieval adventure steeped in history, mythology, and mysteries from a dark and magical past.

 

Enoch’s Device is available at:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-ebook/dp/B00ARPYW02/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Paperback (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-Joseph-Finley/dp/0988410826/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Paperback (Barnes & Noble): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enochs-device-joseph-finley/1114021182?ean=9780988410824&isbn=2940016140377

Review: The Return – Cate’s Take

Genre: Religious thriller

Rating: Not for me

Never having read The Da Vinci Code (I know, you can flog me later), I was able to go into Carter Vance’s book without any sort of bias. And while the storyline and ideas were engaging, the book simply didn’t work for me as a reader.

The book is told from multiple viewpoints. We meet Geoff, an American banker vacationing at his friend’s estate in France; Jacques, said friend and secret Templar Knight; and Sarah and Peter, whose relationship is vital to the story’s plot.

The idea behind this story is that Sarah is the descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and that her child with Peter is the second coming of Christ. Vance drops subtle clues and hints through Geoff’s obsession with the Templars, which leads him to various locations all over the globe.

One of my main issues with the book was that the plot moves so quickly that the reader never gets a chance to get to know the parties involved. There are multiple points where Vance could have provided clever insight or interjected more personality, but the plot overrules the characters, and we never get to see more than a basic two-dimensional representation of them. From what I could glean, I really liked Sarah’s character and her relationship with Peter, but the reader only gets brief glimpses. When one of the main characters died, I felt little more than a passing sympathy.

I understand what Vance was trying to do, but it didn’t work for me. The pacing was far too rushed for such a complex story, and I felt that that robbed the reader of what could’ve been an engaging and exciting read. However, the story beneath the plot is done well, and the book is very well-researched. I just wanted to see more.

The Return is available at:

Amazon