Wow, this is so different and interesting!
First Second Coming (The New God Series Book 1) by Jeff Pollack released in August in the Supernatural Romantic Suspense genre.
In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether Earth’s dominant species should or should not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.
Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. To earn a coveted spot in this God’s good graces all mankind must do is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help, within sixty days. Failure means extinction.
God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a fanatical religious group bent on killing them. When rising conflicts within the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and mankind’s very survival.
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“A good afternoon greeting isn’t appropriate on this saddest Christmas Day in Los Angeles’ history. I’m Ram Forrester. In the absence of Jack Allenby, who’s under the weather, I’m here to anchor this special newscast.”
Jack’s had too much eggnog, but that’s nothing new. “A historic local church, an important institution beloved by the Latino community since the city’s founding, has been destroyed. We don’t have numbers yet, but the loss of life is considerable. No one’s claimed responsibility.”
It’s impossible to hide my dismay, though I try. The NITWIT caller said he had ‘bigger fish to fry.’ He must’ve meant this. How’d they pull it off? If they can accomplish this, they’re a much more serious threat than I thought.
“Brendali Santamaria is with us from Olvera Street. Fill us in, Brendali.”
The camera catches the somber look in her eyes. She stays silent long enough for me to suspect she didn’t hear the cue. When she does speak her cadence is slow, soft and melancholic.
“I’m near La Reina de Los Ángeles Iglesia—The Queen of the Angels Church.” She raises a hand to cover her mouth. We hear a heavy sigh.
“This morning’s Christmas church service held an overflow crowd. They showed up not only to celebrate our sacred holiday, but to attend a special sermon given by Mexico City’s beloved bishop, Cuauhtemoc Olin. His body hasn’t been found yet. The explosion occurred—uhh, excuse me.” She turns away, flicks a finger against her cheek and gathers herself.
“The injuries, the fatalities—dozens of each. Men, women, little ones.” Her voice cracks. “I’m heartbroken.” Her eyes close.
Before I decide to end the report, she speaks with a firmer voice. “Let me finish, Ram, please.” Her next breath is so deep her entire upper body heaves. “I walked past this blood-smeared Maria doll lying on the ground earlier.” She holds the bloody doll against her white blouse for the camera.
“For those who don’t know, these doll figures are indigenous children dressed in their tribe’s styles. This one’s a girl from my tribe, Nahua, dressed in a tiny huipil.” She puts the doll in a baggy without appearing to realize her top is smeared with blood.
Ken’s voice rings in my ear buds from the control room. “Pull her. Brendali’s not giving us a report. All we’re getting is emotion.”
Bren’s hard at work despite hurting so much. I’ll damn well let her finish. With the screen focused on her, I emphatically shake my head to refuse his order.
“I thought about the cute little niná who brought this doll to church, dressed in her holiday best. Is the doll’s blood hers? Is she gone, so soon? Who took her life? Are her parents grieving, hurt or dead?”
She puts a hand over her eyes and goes silent. “We expect to hear from Archbishop Delmonico soon. As compassionate as he is, we must ask him how God could let this happen to these innocents on the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We need an explanation.”
With no signoff she walks away. The camera gives us an unobstructed view of a ruined church reduced to a mess of wood, pipes and plaster. The building, built in the mid-1860’s, is leveled. We segue to a commercial as the image fades from view, but not from our memory.
The victims share Bren’s faith and culture. She would’ve been among them if she’d arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Did NITWIT mean to kill her? I don’t want to bring up that idea—she’ll feel guilty, that all the victims died for her. I remember our first show, her evident pride when she walked on stage in that stunning white huipil. The doll must’ve triggered that memory and others, too—childhood, her cousin Lilia, the funeral her folks didn’t attend.
I need to comfort her, not sit here with my heart breaking.
About the Author
Jeff Pollak, the author of First Second Coming and sequels to come, was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx by a single mom and two grandparents who lived eight floors up. After graduating from college in Buffalo, Jeff headed west to Los Angeles for law school and spent his entire legal career in and around civil litigation. Now retired, writing fiction is Jeff’s new passion.
Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?
Although First Second Coming is primarily intended as entertainment, the book’s message is about intolerance. Hopefully readers will pick that up. There are two sets of intolerant religious groups in this story. One demonstrates intolerance of other views in an aggressive manner. The other group exercises passive resistance. Examples of tolerance abound within the novel, but these two intolerant groups put mankind’s future at risk.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Because I came to writing fiction from a long career as a trial attorney, I often find my writing style lapse into the stiffer, more formal style that’s normal for writing such boring things as legal briefs, client reports and trial documents. When editing I’m on alert to this tendency, and fix the verbiage whenever I find it unless the character – such as God in First Second Coming – actually has a formal manner of speech.
How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
First Second Coming is my debut novel, so by default it’s my favorite.
If you had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?
That’s a very interesting question! On a whim a few years ago, I searched the internet to try to find actors bearing a resemblance to the two main characters in First Second Coming. I was unsuccessful in finding anyone close to my visualization of Ram Forrester. However, a British actress of half Norwegian, half Nigerian descent turned out to look so much like how I pictured Brendali Santamaria, who is Latina, that it was eerie. The actress, Hannah John-Kamen, has been in British TV shows, notable American ones such as Game of Thrones (as Omela), and films including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ready Player One and Tomb Raider. She has enough experience to at least audition for the lead role as Brendali. She’s the right age, and although she isn’t Latina she looks it. If she’s not interested or fails her audition, I would want a Latina actress in the role.
When did you begin writing?
I never pictured myself as a fiction writer until roughly 2014. That’s when I began to consider what I’d do with my time once I retired. The idea of trying my hand at fiction made sense. An avid reader, I always enjoyed the writing aspect of litigation, which is very writing-intensive. Of course, I had to learn the ropes of fiction, develop a suitable writing style and practice. First Second Coming took eight drafts, the first few rather amateurish, but that’s a phase we all have to go though. Fortunately, I improved.
How long did it take to complete your first book?
It’s hard for me to answer this question. I wrote part-time from 2015 to 2019. Trials are all consuming, and I had several of them in this time period – four in 2018 alone. Each trial prevented me from writing any fiction for several weeks at a time. Occasional family obligations also took precedent over writing from time to time. So I can’t even estimate what the answer might be in terms of days or hours, but five years did pass while I worked at it.
Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?
No, but I am inspired to improve enough to become as good a writer as any of my favorites – David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks); Iain Pears (Arcadia); Haruki Murakami (1Q84); or Daniel Silva (The English Girl).
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Editing. I liken the writing process to sculpture. Michelangelo began the Pietà with a huge chunk of Carrara marble. He chiseled away at it until what was left became arguably the most impressive piece of sculpture that’s ever been carved. Writers start with a concept, nothing more. The first draft, equivalent to Michelangelo’s block of marble, is what we chip away at it until we’re left with our humble version of the Pietà, however distant that may be from a sculpted masterpiece. I enjoy hammering my story until it becomes as true, and as fully rendered, as I envisioned it in my imagined plotline.
Describe your latest book in 4 words.
Suspense, romance, fantasy – blended.
Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?
I’m working on two novels concurrently. One is the sequel to First Second Coming, which has a working title of Earth’s Peril. A spin-off, which is currently called The Recycling Center, is the second book. I intend to focus my writing on the New God Series for the foreseeable future, with the occasional spin-off if or when they pop up.
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