DEADFALL, by Robert Liparulo. Tomorrow--Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Blog Tour!
Robert Liparulo's all-too-realistic premise for GERM comes from a what if scenario.
What if all those hundred’s of thousands of PKU tests—the blood samples taken from newborn babies born in industrialized nations to check for certain genetic diseases, then placed on Guthrie cards and stored in warehouses and never destroyed? What if they fell into the wrong hands?
Like into the hands of Karl Litt, a German scientist/bioterrorist—plotting to murder 10,000 American's for a personal vendetta. What if this bioterrorist specializes in gene splicing and encoding human DNA, and has inside information about the 1995 Ebola outbreak?
“Theoretically," these viruses have the ability to "find specific DNA—specific people,” says Liparulo.
After reading both novels, I'm a fan. Liparulo's novels are full of action, suspense, and fun to read. Liparulo's plots careen wildly through a crash-course of crises littered with quasi-supernatural evil.
Liparulo's characters are multi-faceted; internally conflicted with the stuff that makes for realistic characters. "GERM's" Stephen is a strong ex-college wrestler turned preacher who embodies G.K. Chesterton's description of courage, "a contradiction in terms that(sic) means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."
Liparulo's characters are flawed. Some have bad habits like smoking or drinking too much, and they know they should stop. Others, like GERM's Julia and Allen, have bought into today's mores and have been hurt because of it. It's refreshing to meet people like them in Christian fiction; people who are conflicted with the struggles that typifies real life.
Madeleine L'Engle once said, "Christian art? Art is art; painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject. If it's good art. . . ," and Robert Liparulo's fiction is good fiction. Somewhere in his fiction is good religion, too, but it doesn't call attention to it's piety. Maybe that's the difference in Liparulo's style that draws me. I wish I could write like that. I'm thrilled to learn he has a third novel in the works.
Interview With Robert Liparulo
While immersed in “Comes A Horseman,” I had to break from the vivid imagery and intense drama—but, not for long—I had to find out what happened next.
Robert Liparulo has written two thrillers, “Comes A Horseman,” which rose to number 33 in the Top 100 Thrillers on Amazon.com for 2006, and his newest novel, “Germ.” After reviewing “Comes A Horseman” for "Christian Library Journal, " I jumped at the chance to review “Germ” when it was released last November.
Liparulo is unique as a writer: the successful combination of a murder and mayhem imagination tied to Christian morality. I am pleased that he agreed to talk to me about his work, and offer some pointers for new writers.
Books to Movies
Liparulo’s novels are dramatic, fast-paced and visual—they read like a screenplay; so, it comes as no surprise that both novels have been optioned for movie rights. Mace Neufeld is producing "Comes A Horseman."
I asked Liparulo about production and if he is involved with the screenplay:
Liparulo: “Mace Neufeld, who has produced all of Tom Clancey's movies, and "General's Daughter, " and a whole slew of successful films, is producing "Comes A Horseman." They’re still trying to get a good script. They’ve rejected two scripts by two prominent scriptwriters, is my understanding. So, they're not at the casting stage yet. I have no idea who they have in mind. I did get a chance to talk with Mace about the script. I suggested another twist at the end, one that’s not in the book, and he seemed to really like it. Aside from that, I don’t have any input. I get to go to the premiers. That’ll have to do, I guess.”
"Red Eagle Entertainment," a relatively new, but well positioned production company is making "Germ." Right now, they have Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” in production. They're putting something like $100 million into it—nothing to sneeze at. They said they want to put “Germ” on the same track. I’m writing the screenplay, so I do have more input this time.
But in Hollywood, scripts get polished and re-written all the time; I’m not expecting the movie to be exactly what I write. When the offers started coming in, I asked Morrell and a few other authors who had sold to Hollywood what I should do. Their advice was to take the money and run. They said it only hurts to try to influence how your stories will be interpreted on the screen. You gotta let it go. Except for the "Germ" screenplay, I've been able to do that. I'm comfortable that I've done my job and the movies will be what they will be."
Liparulo majored in creative writing at Weber State University, Utah: “I never wanted to be or imagined myself as a journalist,” but, when he got married after college, he “followed the money. At the time, that meant freelancing magazine articles and newspaper stories.” to Travel and Leisure. “I’m curious about everything, as writers should be."
Liparulo: "As a freelancer, I could appr0ach any publication. Publications exist for every conceivable topic: yarn balls and shoelaces and abandoned eighteenth century mine shafts. Over time, the things that really interested me started to become apparent: military and police operations, travel, business management, relationships (not just romantic relationships, but father/child, siblings, friends). The great thing about freelancing is you can write about whatever piques your fancy; the bad thing is you have to hustle to keep the articles flowing out and the cash flowing in.”
Liparulo is focusing on his fiction. After ten years as a contributing editor to “New Man” magazine, he said: “Novel writing is where my heart is. It’s what I was designed to do, so when I could focus solely on writing novels, I let all of the magazine writing go. "New Man" was the last one I released.”
As a journalist, Liparulo interviewed celebrities. Steven Spielberg was probably his most memorable interview:
Liparulo: This was right after “E.T.” I really admired him. He was so sure of where he was heading, of the mark he wanted to make. I saw more drive and passion and determination in him than in anyone I’d ever met. And yet he wasn’t anxious or jittery. No nervous energy. Just energy. For years after that, I’d work harder and (I hope) smarter just by thinking, 'Spielberg’s probably working right now.' He also had a passion for doing things right, even if they were outside of his core competencies.
As an investigative reporter, I learned how to research well, and I got over the fear of picking up the phone and calling someone in authority when I needed some information. These skills helped when I started researching “Comes A Horseman.” I wanted to be as factual as possible, to give the fictional side of the story a strong foundation in fact.
As a magazine writer, I learned to be economical with words, to write tightly and make sure few words said a lot. So, everything I needed to be a good journalist translated very well into fiction.
Liparulo describes his first opportunity to send his work, a series of “short radio shows for kids,” to an editor:
Liparulo: Tommy Nelson was looking for writers for a series of kids’ novels. I contacted the editor and sent her some samples. Nelson ended up not doing the series. A while later the editor called up and said she’d liked my samples and had I ever considered novels for adults? I had just spent the past six months working on a spec manuscript—about a third of what became "Comes a Horseman"—and sent her that. Nelson (WestBow Press, Thomas Nelson) bought it, and here we are.
Liparulo's advice to new writers
Write what you would write “regardless of readers, publishers and markets,” then trust that you are where God wants you to be in your writing. Liparulo writes what he likes to read.
"Comes A Horseman," by Robert Liparulo, WestBow Press, 2005/
"Germ," by Robert Liparulo, WestBow Press, (c)2006.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liparulo's debut novel Comes A Horseman. Soon to be a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld. His short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson. Liparulo is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.