Today, my friend (and editor) Adam Blumer is publishing his latest suspense novel, The Tenth Plague. If you think the novel might have some connection to the 10 plagues visited upon Egypt in the Old Testament, you would be right. Here’s the summary: “Water turns to blood. Flies and gnats attack the innocent. Marc and Gillian Thayer’s vacation resort becomes a grisly murder scene, with a killer using the ten plagues of Egypt as his playbook for revenge.”
Downton Abbey it’s not.
Adam is the author of Fatal Illusions (Kregel Publications) and now The Tenth Plague (Kirkdale Press). (My review of Fatal Illusions is here.) A print journalism major in college, he works as a freelance writer and editor after serving in editorial roles for more than 20 years. He was the editor for both of my novels, Dancing Priest and A Light Shining. He lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.
We asked Adam about The Tenth Plague, and here’s what he had to say.
What was your inspiration behind The Tenth Plague?
One day I was reading the book of Revelation and came across 22:18–19. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (ESV). My mind began playing the “what if” game. Would God really bring a biblical plague on someone who tampered with His Word? I chatted with a few theologian friends, and the plot emerged from there.
How does this novel compare with your first novel, Fatal Illusions?
Though the plot, of course, is different, the two novels share a number of similarities. Both are set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I live. I like to write about average folks like Marc and Gillian Thayer, a pastor and his wife who face unexpected, even threatening, events. Of course, there’s another really bad killer who wants to do them harm, and their retired homicide detective friend, Chuck Riley, once again comes out of retirement to help them. I also like to weave in a historical event that somehow relates to the present day. In Fatal Illusions, it was the killer’s obsession with Houdini; in The Tenth Plague, an old mine disaster plays an important role. The past always plays an important role in the present—a running theme in my novels. Overall, I like to write about redemption: how biblical truth offers the answers to the complicated issues of life. Stories, like parables, present some of the best ways to illustrate biblical truths.
What was one of the most important lessons you learned during the writing of this novel?
The power of the collaborative process. I had a fairly strong first draft, but I was stuck. A novel editor provided a creative springboard and helped me see where my true story lay. Without her help, I doubt this story would have seen the light of day.
What part of writing this novel took the most work?
This novel required a ton of research. From an old mining tragedy to autism, from adoption law to anthrax, from pheromones to the Oklahoma City bombing, the research for this one required much more than I ever expected. I’m so thankful for technology and ease of access, thanks to the Internet. Without Google and so many resources at my fingertips, I’d probably still be researching this story.
So far, what has been your favorite work experience in life?
During one summer between years in high school, I worked at a library, a book lover’s paradise. Granted, a lot of the work involved stocking shelves, but being surrounded by so many fascinating books and interesting authors was pure heaven. I was born a die-hard book lover, and I’ll probably die one too.
I love suspense fiction and history, so a blending of the two always seems to come out in my writing. In high school, I won awards in calligraphy; Gillian Thayer, my female lead, is into calligraphy in a big way (it’s her job). I’ve always been intrigued with how one’s past impacts his or her present and future. This is a recurring theme in my novels because it’s part of who I am. Now that I think about it, what I write is inseparable to some degree from who I am.
Introduce your plot summary and main characters. What is your favorite part of the story?
When their friend turns up dead, Marc and Gillian put their vacation on hold, enlist the help of a retired homicide detective, and take a closer look at the bizarre plagues as they escalate in intensity. Meanwhile, a stranger is after the Thayers’ newly adopted baby. Will they uncover the truth behind the bitter agenda before the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn son?
My favorite part is when the firstborn son is revealed and the novel culminates in the tenth plague. This is the most suspenseful and action-packed part of the story, with several key characters in jeopardy. I had a blast writing it.
One of the main themes of The Tenth Plague is confronting and dealing with your past. What can readers take away from this theme, especially in a novel that deals with religion and death?
Both the villain and my heroine, Gillian Thayer, grapple with heartbreaking real-life issues from their past. But how they respond shows two very different paths. My hope is that readers will see the stark contrast in the context of biblical truth presented in the story. The bottom line is that God is enough, and He offers the solution to every problem of life. This is another repeated theme in my stories. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my latest project.
(Some content used by permission of Kirkdale Press.)