Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times bestselling author and a communications strategist who has worked with some of the world's most influential leaders in business, politics and media, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The first page of his first novel – THE LAST JIHAD – puts you inside the cockpit of a hijacked jet, coming in on a kamikaze attack into an American city, which leads to a war with Saddam Hussein over weapons of mass destruction. Yet it was written before 9/11, and long before the actual war with Iraq. When published, THE LAST JIHAD spent eleven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, reaching as high as #7. It raced up the
USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, hit #4 on the Wall Street Journal list and hit #1 on Amazon.com.
His second thriller – THE LAST DAYS – opens with the death of Yasser Arafat and a U.S. diplomatic convoy ambushed in Gaza. Two weeks before THE LAST DAYS was published in hardcover, a U.S. diplomatic convoy was ambushed in Gaza. Thirteen months later, Yasser Arafat died. THE LAST DAYS spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, hit #5 on the Denver Post list, and #8 on the Dallas Morning News list. Both books have been optioned by a Hollywood producer.
Joel has been interviewed on more than 300 radio and TV programs, including ABC's "Nightline," CBN's "The 700 Club," CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, the "Rush Limbaugh Show," and the "Sean Hannity Show." He has been profiled twice by the New York Times and was the subject of two cover stories in WORLD magazine. He has spoken all over the country at universities, churches, political events, bookseller conventions, fund-raisers, and even the International Spy Museum.
An evangelical Christian from an Orthodox Jewish background, Joel's grandparents escaped Russian persecution of the Jews in the early part of the 20th century. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1989, was active in Campus Crusade for Christ, and studied at Tel Aviv University. He is married, has four sons, and lives near Washington, D.C., where he and his wife are members of McLean Bible Church.
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Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times bestselling author of THE LAST JIHAD, THE LAST DAYS and THE EZEKIEL OPTION. In this interview with FaithfulReader.com's contributing writer Lisa Ann Cockrel, Rosenberg describes the current political climate in the Middle East in relation to his latest book, THE COPPER SCROLL, and the Scriptural prophecies from which he bases his work. He also talks about his family's unconventional religious background, how his career as a communications strategist has affected his attitudes on politics, and the unexpected audiences his books attract.
FaithfulReader.com: What attracted you to Christianity from your nominally Jewish background?
Joel C. Rosenberg: Central to my novels --- especially this new one, THE COPPER SCROLL --- is the relationship between Jews and Christians, and between Israel and the United States. My dad was raised Orthodox Jewish. His family escaped out of Russia around 1907 when the Czar was killing thousands upon thousands of Jews. By God's grace, they reached Ellis Island and like any good Jewish family, they set up shop in Brooklyn, which is where my father was raised. When he and my mom came to the conclusion in 1973 that Jesus was actually the Messiah, you can imagine that was a revolution in our house.
Over the years, I saw their lives change dramatically and for the better. My father's volcanic temper calmed significantly and he became a much more peaceful, joyful person --- funny, warm, great with kids. It was a remarkable transformation. My mom had been almost paralyzed with anxiety, fear and doubt. But she developed a sense of calm, of peace, and of eagerness to pray about problems and challenges rather than simply fret over them. The change in both of their lives really fascinated me. I knew it wasn't artificial or the result of some self-help program. Jesus Christ had changed them, and that really began to convince me that He could give me the purpose and direction and hope I was looking for as well.
FR: THE COPPER SCROLL highlights the difference and many similarities between Judaism and Christianity. How have you learned to synthesize the two in your own life?
JCR: Interestingly enough, the differences have never been a problem for me. I have been very blessed to come to know Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He's changed my life completely. I know there are many of my Jewish brothers and sisters who have no idea how I could believe this. Some are offended, but most are intrigued. They want to know how a person can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. That's a question I really enjoy answering. After all, it's really not that mysterious. Jesus was Jewish. His disciples were Jewish. Jesus did 99% of His speaking and preaching to Jewish people. He did most of His miracles for Jewish people. The Hebrew Prophet Micah told us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. That perfectly summarizes the life of Jesus. He taught His disciples how to be Jewish and have a personal relationship with the Father in heaven, and of course, Jesus Himself was the perfect model.
FR: As with all of your books, there are eerie thematic similarities in THE COPPER SCROLL to what's currently going on in the Middle East. What do you think about the current standoff between Israel and Hezbollah?
JCR: What's so eerie about THE COPPER SCROLL is that it seems to have hit so close to actual events. The novel, at its core, is about a battle between Israel and her neighbors over control of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Temple Mount. It's about the Jewish dream of building the Third Temple, and about the dream of Israel's enemies to liquidate the Jews and liberate Jerusalem. About a month before the novel was published, my publicist sent out a press release that said something like: BEST-SELLING AUTHOR WARNS BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF JERUSALEM, TEMPLE MOUNT, COULD SPARK NEW MIDEAST WAR. About a week later, that war was well underway.
Look, I pray that there is a fast, peaceful resolution to this thing. But it very well could spin out of control and end up looking like the apocalyptic war I first wrote about in THE EZEKIEL OPTION. As I write this, Syria has just mobilized its forces. Iran is mobilizing its forces. Israel is sending a massive new ground force into southern Lebanon. And the news media keeps asking, "Are these the last days?" I've done more than 70 radio and TV interviews in the past three weeks, including with some of the major networks. They know that the events unfolding right now were foretold in my novels. Now they want to understand if the war we're seeing was foretold by the Bible.
FR: Without condoning their actions, do you think any of those countries or people groups who consider Israel an enemy have legitimate grievances?
JCR: The Lebanese and Palestinians have legitimate grievances, but they are directing them against the wrong people. They should be angry with Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and, most of all, Iran --- not Israel. Remember, Israel withdrew all its forces from Lebanon in 2000. Israel withdrew all its forces from Gaza and was preparing to withdraw from the West Bank. They gave up real land in the expectation that they would gain real peace. It hasn't happened. The efforts by these radical Islamic countries and groups to annihilate Israel have only intensified, and it's important to realize this isn't ultimately a battle over slivers of land here or there. This is a battle by radical Islam to liquidate the Jewish people and liberate Israel. We should have compassion for those innocent civilians on all sides who are caught in the crossfire. But we also need to stand with Israel and pray that she defeats Hezbollah before Hezbollah comes here to our shores to attack us as al-Qaeda did on 9/11.
FR: Reports seem to indicate anti-Semitism is on the rise. What do you think is fueling this fire right now?
JCR: Sadly, anti-Semitism is rising quite rapidly --- especially in Europe, where even U.S. government officials say it is as bad as in the 1930s, before the rise of Adolf Hitler. I'm seeing a virulent hatred for the Jews spike here in the U.S., too. A growing number of radio shows I'm on have callers who just attack me with such venom for being Jewish. It's very sad, but it's indicative of a worldwide trend that before long will leave Israel isolated without a friend in the world. Even, eventually, the United States.
FR: Why do you think Israel is such an important country on the world stage?
JCR: When you think about it, there's really nothing about Israel that would immediately suggest the ability of such a tiny country to dominate global headlines day after day, week after week, year after year. Yet it does. In part, that's because so many countries are determined to destroy her and annihilate the Jewish people. That certainly makes news. But ultimately, the battle over Israel and over Jerusalem is a spiritual battle. The Bible says God chose the Jewish people to be His own. He chose to give the Jewish people the land of Israel. And He warned us through the prophets that the enemies of God would be determined to destroy God's people and desecrate God's land. We're seeing just that play out in our lifetime. It's tragic, but true.
FR: When did Biblical prophecy start to intrigue you? How would you characterize your approach to or understanding of it?
JCR: As a teenager, I was intrigued by how Jesus fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures, which in turn got me interested in other Biblical prophecies as well. I became particularly intrigued with Ezekiel 36 and 37, which says that in the last days Israel will be reborn as a country, the Jews will pour back into the Holy Land after centuries in exile, that Israelis will rebuild the "ancient ruins," reunify Jerusalem, and develop a great and powerful army. I realized that all these things had come true in the 20th century. That made me curious: if Ezekiel 36 and 37 have already come true, isn't it possible that Ezekiel 38 and 39 will soon come true as well? These are the chapters about the rise of a dictator in Russia who forms a military alliance with Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and a number of other Islamic countries to destroy Israel in "the last days."
For years, I studied that and was intrigued by it; so intrigued that I wrote a series of novels --- THE LAST JIHAD, THE LAST DAYS, and THE EZEKIEL OPTION --- about how such prophecies might look if they were to come true in my lifetime. And one by one, each of the major events in these novels have, in fact, come true. Over one million copies have sold as a result. People are intrigued, and so am I.
Now, one more point on this --- Ezekiel 40-48 is about the rise of a Jewish Temple in the end times. So my latest novel, called THE COPPER SCROLL, is about what events might lead us to the building of the Third Temple and an apocalyptic battle for control of Jerusalem --- all of which actually could happen in our lifetime. We don't know for sure. But it could.
FR: Why do you think prophecy, Biblical and otherwise, fascinates so many people?
JCR: People are worried. They're anxious. They see wars in the Mideast and hear rumors of more wars and they desperately want to know, "What does the future hold?" More importantly, "What does my future hold?" and "Is the Bible relevant to life in the 21st century? Does it really have answers that can affect my life?" I'm being interviewed on hundreds of radio and TV shows. E-mails are pouring in from all over the world. I'm being invited to speak at the White House, to Members of Congress on Capitol Hill, even to Arab and Israeli leaders and diplomats. Why? Because people want to know why my novels keep coming true, and what's going to happen next. That quickly gets us into a discussion about Bible prophecy and God's plan and purpose for the Middle East.
The truth is, I do believe the Bible is relevant to our lives. I believe Bible prophecy is an intercept from the mind of God. It tells us what is coming, what it means, and how to be prepared for it. I've based my novels on these prophecies. That's why they keep coming true. And as I explain God's Word to people, I find that they are fascinated. They want to know more. They want real, solid answers in these times of uncertainty.
FR: Do you think Christians should form their political opinions based on their understanding of Bible prophecy? Why or why not? Also, do you think you would be a conservative and pro-Israel if you weren't a Christian? Why or why not?
JCR: Honestly, I'd rather not talk about politics right now. I know that seems strange, coming from someone who worked in politics for so long, but I like to say I've been through "political detox." Politics is important. Taking policy positions based on your faith is important. But right now, I'm trying to answer people's questions about the future of the Middle East, and whether Biblical prophecy is relevant to their lives. I find that at this highly charged moment, getting into political questions can often do more harm than good.
FR: After a career in politics, what inspired you to start writing fiction?
JCR: My candidates kept losing.
FR: You went to Russia to do research for your last book, THE EZEKIEL OPTION. Did you do any special research for THE COPPER SCROLL?
JCR: Being a novelist is such an amazing privilege. My family and I went to Israel and several other countries to do research for this book and my next. I also had the privilege to travel with a colleague to Amman, Jordan, where the actual "copper scroll" is located. I'm fascinated with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and particularly with the treasure map found on the copper scroll. I'm intrigued by the prospect that the Third Jewish Temple could be built in my lifetime. And I loved spending time researching this book in the heart of the Middle East.
FR: What's your favorite aspect of this latest project?
JCR: Taking my boys to climb through Hezekiah's Tunnel in Jerusalem (where a major chase and gun battle takes place in THE COPPER SCROLL) was a lot of fun. Hiking with them through the Golan Heights was amazing. We just had an incredible time exploring Israel and calling it "research." That was the best part.
FR: You've tapped into the conservative political machine to promote your books. How does your political background inform the themes you explore in your fiction?
JCR: I try to use my experience working for a number of U.S. and Israeli leaders.
FR: Who do you think is the audience for your books?
JCR: What intrigues me is that about 90% of my books are bought in general market or secular bookstores. Only about 10% are currently bought through Christian bookstores. Evangelicals are growing interested in my novels, but it seems that the core audience right now are Americans who have little or no faith background.
FR: What do you want readers to walk away from your books thinking?
JCR: I want to take my readers on a spellbinding political, military, geographic and spiritual journey and take them places they never expected to be, to meet people they never expected to meet. I want to take them on a heart-pounding journey that leaves them asking, "Could that really happen? Is that really true?"
FR: What are you reading right now?
JCR: I just finished a fascinating book by David Brog called STANDING WITH ISRAEL: WHY CHRISTIANS SUPPORT THE JEWISH STATE. David is Jewish. He's not a believer in Jesus. He is a former chief of staff for a U.S. Senator, and he's written a remarkable book about why evangelical Christians defend Israel so passionately, so intensely, and so consistently. He says most Jews don't realize what important allies evangelical Christians are for Israel. His research is remarkable. He tells some fascinating, little-known stories of the close ties between evangelicals and Israel's founding fathers. I loved the book. I'd highly recommend it to anyone watching the current crisis.
FR: What are you working on now, and when can readers expect to see it?
JCR: For the last few months, I've been finishing my first nonfiction book, EPICENTER: WHY THE CURRENT RUMBLINGS IN THE MIDDLE EAST WILL CHANGE YOUR FUTURE. It comes out October 1st from Tyndale. The timing has been remarkable. I've actually been working on the book for several years, but it's about 10 headlines people can expect to see coming out of the Middle East, and those headlines seem to be getting closer with each passing day. For the book, I spent three months in the region. I interviewed top Israeli, Arab and Russian leaders; intelligence and military officials; as well as evangelical pastors inside Iran, Iraq, Sudan and elsewhere, to get their perspective on the future of their world. What's more, I gained access to previously classified documents from the White House, CIA and State Department. We also commissioned an exclusive nationwide poll to determine American attitudes toward current events and Bible prophecy. It was a fascinating book to work on --- exhausting, but fascinating.
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FaithfulReader.com contributing writer W. Terry Whalin interviewed Joel C. Rosenberg, a New York Times bestselling author and a communications strategist who has worked with some of the world's most influential leaders in business, politics and media. Rosenberg discusses his motivation for writing THE EZEKIEL OPTION, which he describes as "a political thriller with a supernatural twist." He also shares details of a remarkable trip he took with his father to Moscow while doing research for his latest book, explains what he would like readers to take away from his fiction, and addresses the eerie coincidences between his novels and real-life events.
FaithfulReader.com: What was your motivation for writing THE EZEKIEL OPTION?
Joel C. Rosenberg: THE EZEKIEL OPTION is a political thriller with a supernatural twist. It is set after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the death of Arafat as a dictator rises to power in Russia and forges a nuclear alliance with the mullahs of Iran. The Kremlin suddenly demands that Israel disclose and dismantle its weapons of mass destruction in the next 30 days, or risk "regime change" from an international coalition, just as Iraq was forced to do by a U.S.-led coalition. Several questions suddenly arise: Will the White House risk a military showdown with Russia and her 10,000 nuclear warheads to protect Israel from another holocaust? Or will Israel be forced to fend for herself? What's more, wonder the central characters --- White House senior advisors Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy --- is it possible that the rise of a Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel is actually the fulfillment of ancient prophecies found in Ezekiel 38 and 39? Is this the apocalyptic War of Gog and Magog of which the Scriptures foretold?
In the early 1990s, I happened to read a nonfiction book by Tim LaHaye called THE COMING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. It was an analysis of this 2,500-year-old prophecy by the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel --- chapters 38 and 39 --- describing the rise of a Russian-Iranian military alliance that would bring Israel and the world to the brink of the apocalypse in what Ezekiel described as the "last days." In the introduction to the book, Dr. LaHaye wrote, "The threat of this attack will terrify Israel into turning to God for help. And their cries will not be in vain, for the Almighty will put on a demonstration of power unequaled since the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. ... It is an exciting scenario, one that could well occur during our lifetime." I have to say, I was intrigued. I am an evangelical Christian from an Orthodox Jewish background. My grandparents and great-grandparents were Orthodox Jews who actually had to escape out of Russia in the early years of the 20th century when the Czar was killing thousands upon thousands of Jews in the pogroms. So I have always been fascinated with both the history and the future of Russia, and I was particularly intrigued by the notion that the Scriptures spoke of Russia playing a key role --- a terrible, horrifying role --- in the last days before the return of Christ.
By the fall of 2000, I was working as a senior communications adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky. One day I was on a flight from Washington to New York with Sharansky and he began telling me a story that captured my attention. He explained how a few years earlier Netanyahu had sent him on a mission to Moscow to hold private talks with Russian Foreign Minister Primakov and the head of the KGB (now called the FSB), Vladimir Putin. The reason was to convey Israel's very real fears that Russian nuclear scientists and Russian nuclear warheads might fall into the hands of radical Middle Eastern regimes such as Iraq or Iran. As Sharansky described his meetings, a shiver ran through my body. I couldn't help but find myself thinking about LaHaye's book. Was it really possible that the Prime Minister of Israel and his top advisers were worried about the rise of a Russian-Iranian military alliance? Was it possible that Ezekiel 38 and 39 could come to pass in my lifetime? After all, Ezekiel 36 and 37 have largely come true already. Those chapters foretell the rebirth of the modern State of Israel and how Jews will pour back into the Holy Land after being scattered all over the planet in exile. And if 36 and 37 have already come true, might it not make sense that the fulfillment of 38 and 39 could be close at hand? I decided then and there that I wanted to write a novel about how such prophecies could play out, and that's what led me to write this series, starting with THE LAST JIHAD, then THE LAST DAYS, and now THE EZEKIEL OPTION.
FR: Tell us about how you research your work and the inner political workings of places like Russia. Can you share a story about one of your research trips and how it fed into your writing THE EZEKIEL OPTION?
JCR: Last fall, I had the opportunity to take my father to Moscow for ten days to do research for THE EZEKIEL OPTION. I had been to the Soviet Union in 1986 with Campus Crusade for Christ to smuggle Bibles into Moscow and Central Asia and to share the gospel with Soviet college students. But even though his parents had escaped from Russia, my father had been born in the U.S. and it was his first time to visit "the old country," as he calls it.
It was a remarkable time. We met with senior Russian political leaders, Russian political analysts, senior officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the bureau chief for the New York Times, and so forth. We toured the Kremlin. We mapped out car chases through the streets of Moscow. We had lunch on the balcony of the Hyatt Ararat where Jon Bennett proposes to Erin McCoy at the beginning of THE EZEKIEL OPTION. We took lots of pictures and extensive notes, trying to make the novel as realistic as possible. We also had the opportunity to meet with a half dozen Russian evangelical leaders, and I was invited to speak at one of the largest evangelical churches in Moscow about three signs that we are living in the last days before the return of Christ. It was a remarkable privilege, and one I enjoyed all the more because I could share it with my dad.
FR: How do your journalistic skills impact your research?
JCR: One of the main things I'm trying to do with these political thrillers is make them feel as realistic --- and plausible --- as possible. I want readers to feel like they are in the room as world leaders make real life-and-death decisions about the fate of the country and the fate of the world. I want them to feel like these events could happen tomorrow. There are a few wonderful political thrillers out there, but in so many it feels like the writer has no political experience, or hasn't done his or her homework, and the dialogue or the details just don't ring true. I've been fortunate to live and work in Washington for the past fifteen years as an aide to U.S. and Israeli political leaders and as a journalist. I try to do as much research as I can and then weave those details together with my own experience and my imagination to transport readers on a ride they'll both enjoy and have to chew on for quite some time.
FR: The openings in your first book, THE LAST JIHAD, and your newest, THE EZEKIEL OPTION, involve terrorists and airplanes. What made you begin the books like this?
JCR: THE LAST JIHAD does open with radical Islamic terrorists hijacking a jet plane and flying a kamikaze mission into an American city. But it's important for people to understand that I wrote those scenes almost nine months before the actual attacks of September 11, 2001. I wasn't writing it to predict that such events would happen so soon. But I was concerned that such an attack was possible, and I needed an opening that would grab people's attention and draw them into a story about a war between the U.S. and Iraq over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. When it actually did happen, it was eerie, to put it mildly. To my knowledge, there had never been a novel that opened like that. In his novel DEBT OF HONOR, Tom Clancy had written a terrifying scene of a Japanese pilot flying a 747 into the U.S. Capitol building. But I really believed that the next great threat to us as Americans wasn't coming from the Japanese but from radical Islamic jihadists. That turned out to be correct.
Now, it's true that much has been done to tighten aviation security in the U.S. But for the opening of THE EZEKIEL OPTION, I wanted to take readers into what could one day be a worst case scenario for an American President --- having to make a split second decision over whether to shoot down a hijacked jumbo jet, filled with innocent civilians. It's a horrifying prospect, but a very realistic one. In my case, I was fortunate to have help from a friend at the Pentagon who flies F-16s and helped me get the technical details and the security protocol over the nation's capital as realistic as possible, without using classified information.
FR: It sounds like you spend a lot of time traveling on airplanes. Do your fiction plots feed into any fears for yourself as you travel?
JCR: Lots of people have a fear of flying. I don't really. But we have already seen how planes can be turned into missiles, and the threat has not yet passed.
FR: Your books lend themselves to great material for movies. I've heard rumors, but what can you tell us about the possibilities of THE LAST JIHAD becoming a movie?
JCR: A Hollywood producer has optioned the rights to THE LAST JIHAD and THE LAST DAYS to make an $80 million motion picture. My wife and I just had lunch with him in New York recently to discuss the project. He's currently looking for a director with a proven track record of films grossing more than $100 million. It's exciting, but we also try to be realistic. It took 21 years from the time The Bourne Identity was on the New York Times bestseller list to the time Matt Damon started blowing people up on the silver screen. So we're not holding our breath.
FR: You have been called a "modern Nostradamus" by U.S. News & World Report because the events in your books keep coming true. What insight do you have about why this is happening?
JCR: Well, just for the record, let me say that I'm not Nostradamus. I'm not a psychic or a clairvoyant. I don't call Miss Cleo in the middle of the night to get my plot ideas. That said, as we've discussed, THE LAST JIHAD opened with a kamikaze attack on the U.S. that led to a war with Iraq over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and then it happened. THE LAST DAYS opened with the death of Yasser Arafat and an American President pushing for peace and democracy in the Middle East. Thirteen months after it was published, Arafat died and President Bush decided to make democracy in the Middle East the centerpiece of his second term agenda. Then, the very weekend that THE EZEKIEL OPTION was published, Iran got a new terrorist president vowing to accelerate Iran's nuclear program. And Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate this new terrorist president of Iran, and Putin explicitly promised to continue selling nuclear technology to Iran, not unlike what happens in the novel.
If that weren't enough, the same week OPTION was published, Saddam Hussein also published a novel about a coming apocalyptic war in the Middle East where Muslims face off against all Christians and Jews, and the central character in his novel (entitled, GET OUT, DAMNED ONE) is named Ezekiel. I'll let others speculate as to why these novels keep appearing to come true. But yes, let's just say it has been uncanny.
FR: What can you share with us about the total number of books planned for this series and their anticipated release dates?
JCR: The next in the series is called THE COPPER SCROLL and comes out in the summer of 2006. Beyond that, I'm going to be very Washingtonian --- no comment.
FR: Authors aren't supposed to preach to readers in fiction --- and you don't. But do you have expectations about what will happen to your readers from spending time with your books?
JCR: My characters are intrigued, as I am, with the future of this War on Terror and the future of the Middle East, and they are finding that merely looking at events through political and economic lenses doesn't allow them to see in three dimensions. To truly understand what's happening in the world, they are discovering they need to view events through spiritual lenses as well. They are facing wars and rumors of wars but they are not simply on a geopolitical journey. They are on a spiritual journey. They are asking existential questions. They are wondering if something larger is going on, and it is.
FR: What process do you use for writing your novels? Do you have the stories outlined?
JCR: Honestly, THE EZEKIEL OPTION is only the third novel I've ever written. I'm learning as I go. Nobody is more surprised than I am that these novels have spent some 17 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and some six months on the USA Today bestseller list. There are now one million copies of the three novels in print, and I am continually amazed by how they are resonating with readers. For the first novel, I had no outlines, only a few pages of notes. For the most recent, I wrote a long outline to help me plot out the story and figure out where the twists and turns were going to be.
FR: How do you write and where do you write? Do you have a page goal or word count goal for each day?
JCR: I have an office in my home where I lock myself away and try to write 2,000 to 3,000 words a day. We have four kids so it's not exactly the quietest environment in which to write. But my wife is a saint and she does everything possible to make it work. And the Lord has been very gracious. I am very grateful for the opportunity to write full time.
FR: What do you read?
JCR: As a kid, I loved Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. As a believer I became a fan of Lewis and Tolkien's work. But during my career in politics, I rarely had time to read fiction of any kind, secular or Christian. Every Christmas, my sister-in-law would get me the latest Clancy or Grisham or Ludlum thriller and I'd try to read them over vacation before it was time to go back to work. Now that I'm writing full-time, I'm trying to read more to see different styles and genres. But the truth is I mostly read history, biographies of world leaders, and books about political and social trends. I just read a fascinating book called THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE by T.R. Reid, a Washington Post correspondent who argues the Roman Empire is being rebuilt and Americans are paying no attention. I think Reid is right, and the prophetic implications are intriguing to me. Right now I'm reading KREMLIN RISING by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, two Washington Post reporters who served as bureau chiefs for the Post in Moscow from 2000 to 2004 and had the opportunity to track Vladimir Putin as he has centralized power around himself and begun to turn himself into what some would call a dictator and others would call a Czar.
FR: If we want to tell other people about your writing, what's the best way to keep informed about your future projects? Do you have a website or a regular newsletter?
JCR: My official website is www.joelrosenberg.com. It has details about each of the books, plus my weblog where I try to keep readers up to date with my media and speaking schedule. I also post articles, interviews and my analysis of events in U.S., Israel, Russia and the Middle East. Readers can also sign up for a weekly email of political analysis. It's called FLASH TRAFFIC and it is free.
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