Gary Val Tenuta is a freelance writer, illustrator and book cover artist. His illustrations and articles dealing with the UFO phenomenon and other subjects in the paranormal realm have been published in Fate Magazine in the U.S. and Beyond Magazine in the U.K.
Gary is the author of The Ezekiel Code, a metaphysical/ mystery/ adventure/ thriller in which 2012, the end of the ancient Mayan calendar, plays a key role in the plot.
BookBuzzr recently interviewed Gary Val Tenuta who is the author of the book ‘The Ezekiel Code’ which is among the The Top 10 Books of 2009 on BookBuzzr.
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, let’s see… I’ve always been intrigued by things that can’t be explained. I wrote my first sci-fi story when I was about 12. I think I’ve read almost everything Edgar Allan Poe ever wrote. I suspect the Universe is probably teaming with intelligent life. I once saw what has become known as the “Black Triangle” UFO at close range for about 10 minutes. It was about the size of a football field. My affidavit attesting to the details of that event was entered as “evidence” in a legal suit against the U.S. Department of Defense by attorney, Peter Gersten, in an attempt to acquire government files pertaining to these particular type of Unidentified Flying Objects. I discovered interesting patterns in and related to the English alphabet which led me to explore the possibility of establishing an English-based form of an ancient system of divination known as gematria. Then there was that 2-week series of sessions with a Ouija board and the automatic writing and the alleged communication with… Oh, but that’s another story all together.
I know what some may be thinking: Man, this guy is a little weird. Truth is, I’m just a regular guy who happens to have had some not so regular experiences over the years. On the more “regular” side, I have a cat named Bear, a cozy condo, a wonderful woman I’ve been with for 25 years, I really like Manheim Steamroller’s brand of cinnamon hot chocolate, my musical taste ranges from country to jazz to blues, I hate vampire movies, I love Indiana Jones, I was an unknown singer/songwriter in the 80s and now I write books and design book covers. See? Just a regular guy. Although I do wish those voices would stop talking to me.
2. Who has inspired you as an author?
Five names come immediately to mind: Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, John Updike, Dan Brown and Stephen King.
3. What is your favorite book?
Until about a week ago I would have said Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons”. But a new writer, John C. Stipa, has taken over that spot with his debut novel, “No Greater Sacrifice”. Great book.
4. What inspired the idea for ‘The Ezekiel Code’?
Ah, that requires a rather long explanation. So if you’re ready, here goes:
The seed that eventually grew to become The Ezekiel Code was actually planted many years prior to having any notion of writing a novel.
Back in the late 60s I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover. Interestingly, having had an interest in the UFO phenomenon since the age of about 12, some of the passages in the Bible struck me as being somewhat similar to reports I’d read about UFO sightings. I first noticed it in the story of the Israelite’s long journey through the desert. They followed a “pillar of cloud by day” and a “pillar of fire by night”. That struck me as a rather curious phenomenon. Added to that was the Ark of the Covenant which functioned to somehow serve as a communication device between “God” and Moses, the leader of this band of wandering Jews. I wondered, could the Ark be some sort of a wireless communication technology so “God” (or whatever it was) could talk to Moses from his “ship”, the pillar of cloud by day that was lit up at night? Then in the book of Numbers this “cloud” that carried “God” actually landed on the ground. Then there was Elijah who was “taken up” in a “whirlwind”. That reminded me of the reports of so-called “alien abductions” where people claim to have been levitated off the ground and carried by some sort of energy field into a hovering craft. It was becoming curiouser and curiouser. Then came the hammer that hit me on the head. It was the book of Ezekiel. His descriptions of the object that came down from the sky – and with which he interacted – seemed much too mechanical to be anything of an ethereal or spiritual nature. His incredibly detailed descriptions seemed to me like the way someone of his time, with a priestly background and absolutely no knowledge of advanced technology (beyond a cart pulled by a donkey), would describe a technological craft.
Some years later I discovered a book called “The Spaceships of Ezekiel” written by a former NASA contract engineer by the name of Joseph Blumrich. His son had noticed the same things about Ezekiel’s descriptions that I had noticed and, knowing the nature of his father’s work with NASA, he told his father about it. Blumrich didn’t believe it at first but the more he studied it the more intrigued he became. The book is his professional analysis of what it was that Ezekiel may actually have encountered. After reading that book I was left with not a shred of doubt that Ezekiel had experienced what we now call a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind.
Fast forward to sometime in the mid-90s:
My friend, Julie, and I were sitting in an all-night diner at about 2 o’clock in the morning and the conversation drifted into the UFO phenomenon. Once again, this idea about Ezekiel came to mind and I told Julie about it. I mentioned that the idea would make a great theme for a movie by someone like Spielberg or Lucas. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea but I knew I had no way of getting the idea to either of those guys. Then it hit me. Why don’t I write a novel based on this idea? I was all ready half way through the writing of another sci-fi novel at the time but this idea struck me as so extraordinary that I immediately shelved the other novel and began sketching out ideas for this new one which, at the time, had a working title of Ezekiel’s Wheels. So how and why did it change from Ezekiel’s Wheels to The Ezekiel Code? That was a two-part process.
Part-1 of the process:
At about the time I started working on the book I was also well into the beginning stages of another little exploration that eventually began to take over my life. I had, quite by accident, stumbled onto the idea that the English alphabet might be naturally or artificially “encoded” in some manner so as to correspond with our base-10 numbering system and that, somehow, the number 9 and the phenomenon of “synchronicity” were key to the whole thing. That, in itself, is a long story and the work is detailed at www.secretofnine.com. The bottom line is that this work was so ingrained into my consciousness that it almost naturally began to flow into my ideas about the plot of my book. It provided a perfect plot device to propel the story. Not only did I recognize how well it would work I also knew it was so original that it would be unique among anything else that was out there.
Part-2 of the process:
I was not at all happy with the working title, Ezekiel’s Wheels. It wasn’t dramatic enough. It wasn’t very catchy. Then one day, maybe around 2003/2004, I heard about a book by one of my favorite “alternative” researchers, Gregg Braden. His book was called “The God Code”. That reminded me of the title of Drosnin’s best selling book, “The Bible Code”. And Julie had recently purchased a book called “Healing Codes of the Biological Apocalypse” (a book, by the way, in which the co-author had made the same discoveries about the English alphabet that I had made a few years earlier. Talk about synchronicity!). At the same time came the phenomenal best-selling novel, “The DaVinci Code”. All of these books were best sellers in their respective categories. Clearly the public had a thirst for anything with the word “code” in the title. I thought, how fortuitous for me! My book definitely had the code element going for it so I latched onto the idea and changed the title to The Ezekiel Code. As soon as I made that change all the little things that kept blocking my progress regarding the direction of the plot just fell away and the story began to write itself. Nearly nine years and 676 pages later The Ezekiel Code was finished.
Good guys, bad guys, romance, mystery, murder, metaphysics and mankind’s date with destiny: 2012. All of this and more is packed into the unique adventure called The Ezekiel Code.
By the way, I’m thrilled to say the Kindle edition of the book has been on amazon.com‘s “Best Seller” list in the “Occult” category for over 8 weeks!
5. Please tell us a little about the book and the Mayan connection?
I first learned about the approaching end of the ancient Mayan calendar (2012) back in 1987 with an event called the Harmonic Convergence which was organized by a researcher named Jose Arguelles. I was fascinated by the whole cyclical concept of the Mayan calendar and the idea that it mysteriously ends on December 21, 2012. I followed all of the researchers who were writing about this phenomenon over the ensuing years.
When I had the idea for my novel, The Ezekiel Code, it had not occurred to me to incorporate the 2012 phenomenon into the story. But about half way into the writing of the story an idea occurred to me. I can’t reveal exactly what that idea was without giving away a key element of the plot. Suffice to say it involved the Mayan calendar’s end date of December 21, 2012. But I took a rather different approach. Most stories about 2012 see it as a dooms day scenario. From my own research into the phenomenon I knew there was an alternative interpretation. The alternative view is that 2012 ushers in a new age of enlightenment, the beginnings of an evolutionary leap in human consciousness and hope for a better world. But every good story has a major obstacle that needs to be overcome. In The Ezekiel Code, that obstacle is an event prior to 2012 that, if left unchecked, could literally annihilate the planet, thus preventing all of us from ever getting to 2012 and that window of unprecedented opportunity for the betterment of the entire human race would be closed forever. As fate would have it, the task of saving the planet would fall on the shoulders of just one man, Zeke Banyon (a seminary school dropout who is running a homeless shelter) with the help of one specific young woman, an anthropology student named Angela Martin. All she really wanted was just a part time job at the shelter. What she got was the adventure of a lifetime.
The Ezekiel Code is a story of these two ordinary people who stumble onto a mysterious code and soon find themselves going further and further down the rabbit hole with shadowy secret society types tracking their every move. The goal of the quest seems to be a fabled lost scroll penned by the prophet, Ezekiel, thousands of years ago. That would be cool enough but it turns out there is more. Something else is waiting to be discovered beyond that; something totally unexpected which turns out to be the key to the survival of the human race. Question is, can they find it in time? And even if they find it will they know what to do with it? 2012 is coming… Or is it?
6. How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Writing The Ezekiel Code was pretty much a go-with-the-flow process. I knew how it would begin and I knew, more or less, how it would end. What I didn’t know was just exactly how my two protagonists would get there. But Zeke and Angela had become so real to me that I had complete confidence in them. So for the most part I just let them go for it. Many times I had no idea what might be coming next. So it was as exciting for me as it was for them.
My current project is quite different. It’s an occult crime thriller called “Ash: Return of the Beast”. I suspected from the beginning I might have to plot this one out more rigorously and that’s the way it seems to be going.
7. Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
The character in The Ezekiel Code that I most identified with was Zeke Banyon. The close identification is due to what he discovers about the “code” element in the story. In some ways it parallels my own experience of discovering some odd patterns in, and related to, the English alphabet. As I mentioned before, that work can be seen at www.secretofnine.com.
8. What do you do to market your book on the internet?
Well, for one thing, I have a BookBuzzr widget on my website (www.ezekielcode.com) that allows visitors to read the first 12 chapters of the book for free. And I use the embed code to place it in various blogs on several of my “ning.com” pages. I’d recommend that to anyone who is marketing their book on the internet. Freado.com is an obvious “must join” for authors and I’ve found the “ning.com” sites to be particularly good for promotional purposes.
I had a pretty good idea who my primary target audience would be for The Ezekiel Code so I searched for social networking sites, forums and groups that catered to that particular niche. Of course I want to reach a wider, more general audience as well so I have joined quite a few sites that are oriented toward writers and book lovers in general. I also make use of MySpace, Facebook and even Twitter.
9. Your book is in the top 10 of our charts, how did you cause this to happen with book marketing?
Blood, sweat and tears. LOL! Okay, I’m exaggerating somewhat. But, seriously, it’s the result of putting in a tremendous amount of time utilizing the venues I mentioned above. I spend at least (I emphasize “at least”) 20 hours a week participating in forum discussions, searching out other possible places online where I can promote the book, posting creative “tweets” on Twitter, adding new information on my ning.com blog pages, and so on. Another thing that I think has helped drive traffic to my site (which I’m sure is where most of the BookBuzzr hits occur) is my three promotional video book trailers on YouTube. One of those trailers is also on a site called Clipser.com where it has been viewed over 7,000 times in just 3 weeks. Also, for about a year I paid something like a dollar a day to run a banner ad on one of the most visited “2012” websites in the internet. I know that drove a lot of traffic to my site.
10. In college, what were your favorite subjects? What are your current hobbies?
I majored in social psychology in college. I planned on teaching the subject at the junior college level but ended up in the graphics field! Now I design book covers for other authors (www.bookcoversandvideos.webs.com). The Universe moves in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?
Hobbies? One of my hobbies (more like an addiction) is collecting books. And as I look around my home I realize what I really need to do is start a hobby of collecting bookshelves.
11. Would you like to share about your next book?
Oh, yes! Thanks for asking! I’m currently working on an occult crime thriller called “Ash: Return of the Beast”. It’s based on a little known factoid I discovered about the death of – or, more accurately, the remains of – the infamous practitioner of occult “magick”, Aleister Crowley. Readers can go to www.ezekielcode.com/ashteaser.html and read the intriguing details about the story and see the cover of the book. If things go well, I hope to have it finished and published by the end of the year.