In Glenn Kleier’s new novel “The Knowledge of Good and Evil,” he focuses on the possibility that his protagonist has stumbled on a way of crossing death’s door and returning with the knowledge of the great beyond. Could he possess the answer to end wars and the endless feuding of Faiths?
Before you read his new book, check out our interview so you can learn more about the first book in his new trilogy.
GWN: Of all the books to write, why write two books on good and evil?
Glenn: For me, the topic of good and evil is inexhaustible. Particularly approaching it from a religious perspective. I’m forever amazed at spiritual leaders around the world who preach on the matter, then proceed to contradict themselves. I.e., the pedophile priest, and his bishop who covers up the crime. The mullah who proclaims Allah’s mercy at the mosque, then issues a fatwa for the slaughter of infidels. “Pacifistic” Buddhists and Hindus who wage war on each other. On and on. No, I don’t think I’ll ever lack for material.
GWN: Who is Ian Baringer and how did he find the door to the truth when two thousand years of men of faith have not?
Glenn: Ian is a former priest who lost his parents to an accident as a young child. He managed to suppress the trauma for a time, clinging to the promises of his religion that one day he’d be reunited with his parents. But as a man, his demons resurface. Ian is driven to know for certain if there’s an afterlife, and he goes to the ultimate extreme to find out. In the process he learns far more than he bargained for, ultimately discovering Truth because of his unremitting commitment to it. The answer to why he succeeds where other men of faith haven’t hearkens to my answer above. It seems many men of faith aren’t quite so faithful after all.
GWN: Why was a sacrifice needed after his parents’ accident?
Glenn: If by sacrifice you mean the ordeals he confronts, Ian must prove his mettle not only to God, but to himself. The value of the Truth he comes to know is commensurate with the sacrifice he makes to obtain it.
GWN: How has his guilt as a survivor created a dangerous obsession?
Glenn: Most children who experience the loss of a beloved parent or parents typically suffer severe separation anxiety. In Ian’s case the anxiety is exacerbated by the fact that his parents gave their lives to save his. His pain is compounded by the environment in which he’s raised — one of deception and psychological isolation. All of which drives his compulsion when finally it emerges.
GWN: Why isn’t it enough for him to see if the soul is eternal?
Glenn: Knowing the soul is eternal won’t give Ian closure. To quiet the demons that have plagued him since his parents death, he must see them a last time.
GWN: Even if he acquires the knowledge that is taught in heaven, in a world that is moving toward a darker path, will the knowledge even be recognized?
Glenn: Ian takes hope in the fact that others can follow in his (and Father Merton’s) footsteps to learn The Ultimate Reality. At the very least, the world would finally have empirical evidence of an afterlife, and a God.
GWN: Who acts as his support system?
Glenn: His ever-tolerant, wise and loving psychiatrist fiancée, Angela Weber. She serves to shore him up during his journey, as does his spiritual mentor from the abbey, Father Lucien, and his longtime friend and father-figure, the courageous Antonio Ponti. In a world of lies and treachery and evil, Ian has loyal friends.
GWN: Are you writing a series of books on this subject?
Glenn: I intend to. “The Knowledge of Good and Evil” was designed as the middle book of a trilogy, to be released 2, 3, 1. (3 and 1 yet to be finished). But before I get back to these I have at least one other self-standing book I want to complete—working title “The Prophet of Queens.” I’ve been on it for two years, it’s going well, and will likely occupy me for the next year or two, I suspect.
GWN: How were you able to balance your career in national marketing and communications with your passion for writing fiction?
Glenn: Given advertising and marketing are largely fiction, too, it helped mitigate my passion for a time. But I’d always loved novels and always wanted to pursue a career as a novelist. When finally my life became a bit more comfortable, I was able to work around my schedule to get that first manuscript completed. Its publication opened the door for me to write full time.
GWN: Tell us about your suspense thriller “The Last Day.”
Glenn: “The Last Day” concerns the coming of a self-proclaimed “messiah” at the turn of the last millennium. The messiah arrives in spectacular fashion, and just so happens to be a beautiful young woman. In the course of the story she proceeds to challenge the paternalistic organized religions, turning them on their spiritual ears.
GWN: What an honor to be published by Warner Books. What were both books’ acceptance experiences like?
Glenn: Writing the first book I harbored no illusions about publication. I expected the submission process to be a drawn-out, iffy proposition, and after sending some pages to several agents I didn’t hold my breath. That I got responses took me completely off guard. I accepted an offer for representation, the agent put the book to auction, Warner bought it, and that was that. I was stunned. Very anticlimactic. It never quite sank in. And the first book greased the skids for the next, so here I am, still scratching my head.
GWN: What do you find to be the most difficult part of being an author?
Glenn: The time it takes me to birth a book. The research and the writing, but particularly the writing. Much as I love it, it’s an ordeal. Years of work before I’m ready to let a manuscript go. I wish I were a better writer and didn’t have to work at it so hard. But in the end, I come away feeling I’ve left everything on the pages.
GWN: Do you believe in good and evil? Have you ever experienced either paranormally?
Glenn: I do believe in good and evil, but from a pragmatic, humanist perspective. Good and evil, in my view, can be reduced to actions that either benefit or diminish the human condition—and at both the individual and societal level. I don’t feel we need religious rules or divine pronouncements to tell us what we all know in our hearts. Show compassion for others, and by default you behave morally. Regarding paranormal events, I’ve never experienced one, good or evil, and doubt such things exist. But I’d love to be proven wrong.
GWN: How are you promoting your new novel? What works for you?
Glenn: I mostly leave that to the publisher and publicist. They get the book off the launch pad, I trust it to find its audience, and it’s on to the next book. I do some tours, media appearances and interviews, but mostly I prefer to correspond with readers and reviewers and book bloggers. That gives me more time to keep my nose to the keypad.