My first novel—and book—was Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Begun December 2000 and finished January 2003, I intended for this to be a stand-alone book. I had a story to tell, a story that came to me as a result of years of Bible study and a couple of years of daydreaming. Never did I think I would someday try to have a writing career. I had a story to tell, nothing more.
But, as I started to shop DLA for publication, I soon learned that publishers didn’t want to publish a book. They really want to publish a writer who wants a career as a published author. That meant I had to have another book. And then another, and another, till infinity, death, or the apocalypse. I went back to brainstorming.
The next books that came to me were my first baseball novel and my poetry book. Nothing came to mind concerning a follow-up to DLA. Nothing at first, that is. Eventually the brainstorming came back to it, and I thought of another book, a sequel. Thus Preserve The Revelation was born. The idea came to me probably around 2009-2010; I don’t remember exactly. For sure it was by 2012. PTR would feature Augustus, the point-of-view character from DLA. He would be called to help the apostle John write his gospel, then later The Revelation. It would involve his sons in kind of a torch-passing event. This sequel was on my radar and in my mind for those several years. Finally the circumstances were right to write it, beginning last October and ending January 14th. It’s currently waiting for me to come back to it and edit it, then publish it.
As I thought about PTR, and the need to have a constant supply of books for the publishing mill (even though by this time I had decided to go the self-publishing route), and, as I read various documents preserved from early church history—something I do for enjoyment and edification, other possible books in the series came to me. To explain exactly what I mean by this, I need to briefly describe a little more about DLA for those who haven’t read it.
The premise behind DLA is that Luke goes to Judea to write a biography of Jesus. He hires Augustus, a Jew from a family that has given up on Judaism and embraced Roman ways, to assist in the research. The story is told from Augustus’ point of view: the research, the writing, the troubles with both Jewish and Roman authorities. In the end the gospel of Luke is written, though it’s nothing like what was originally intended.
So the story is how a lowly clerk/scribe, called an amanuensis back then, should have a big impact in telling Jesus’ story. That’s the same theme carried into PTR, with Augustus and his sons playing the same role, with similar results. As I brainstormed more books, I realized the number of documents in early Christianity, documents which survive in whole or in part, or which are referenced by just slightly later documents, is large. How large? In just the First Century and the first half of the Second Century, potentially eight to ten over and above the scripture. To the end of the Second Century might add that many more, and more and more as each century progresses. In the first four centuries I would probably have 100-200 documents to choose from.
I eventually developed a plan for the series from this. At present, the plan is for only eight books, taking it from the early New Testament era to the middle of the First Century. Here’s a list of the books in chronological order. Given that the first book is a prequel, I’m obviously not planning on writing these in that order.
- Adam Of Jerusalem: Backstory for Augustus’ family. The document(s) in question will be those thought to be the sources for Matthew and Luke in writing their gospels, the Passion Narrative and “Q” (Jesus’ sayings/teachings). Time frame: 39-40 A.D. Main character: Adam, Augustus’ father. His decision to leave Judaism and embrace Roman ways will be part of the story.
- Doctor Luke’s Assistant: Explained above. Time frame: 63-66 A.D. Main character: Augustus
- The Sayings: The writing of the Didiche, the sayings of the apostles. Time frame: 70 A.D. Main character: Augustus
- Preserve The Revelation: Explained above. Time frame: 95 A.D. Main characters: Augustus and his sons
- The Corinthian Problem (tentative title): The writing of “1st Clement”, an epistle written in Rome to the church in Corinth. Time frame: about 100 A.D. Main characters: Augustus’ sons, Adam and Daniel.
- Ignatius of Antioch: The story of Ignatius being marched from Antioch to Rome, to his martyrdom, and the epistles he wrote during this trip. Time frame: 111 or 112 A.D. Main character: Augustus’ son Daniel
- The Heretic: The story of Marcion, a Christian of the day whose views were eventually determined to be heresy. Time frame: 140 A.D. Main character: uncertain at this time. It may be one of Augustus’ descendants, or may be another family of scribes—or both.
- The Martyr: The story of Polycarp, especially his being martyred. This story will actually tie in with Preserve The Revelation. Time frame: 150 A.D. Main character: uncertain, but one of Augustus’ descendants.
Some of the dates above are approximate. I’m writing this blog post from memory of past research. Oh, and a ninth book from this era might be The Shepherd.
So eight (or nine) novels planned at the moment. One written and published; one written and awaiting publication. Four I’ve been thinking of for at least three years. And three that came to mind in the last six months. That ought to keep me busy for a while, especially when all my planned books in other genres are factored in. If I get most of these eight or nine written and published, I’ll have time enough to extend the series to the next hundred years of church history.