Interview with Carl Daoust

By MINO DALLOSTO, author of the groundbreaking article The Role and Power of Mental Models published by the Integral Leadership Review. For starters, the title certainly is controversial.
No bible is actually set on fire in the novel. It’s a metaphor for the very real threat the boy’s origins represent to biblical beliefs and notions. The concept of fire is used to convey a force capable of breaking down and reducing to nothingness material and abstract objects.
It is indeed a powerful image. I found Theon E. Rex, the aforementioned boy, quite nuanced in character. What was the basis for his creation?
I used myself as a point of reference. I’m a fan of stories depicting the classic battle of Good versus Evil, especially those where the line between both is unclear, creating a new brand of protagonist: the Anti-Hero, where the battle is waged as much within one’s psyche as without. It makes for a much more subtle and compelling story. As one who recognized his own demons, I often imagined how they would manifest if I had extraordinary powers. People would hail me and fear me. And through it all, I would find relief alternating with suffering, magnified by a young boy’s immaturity and maladroitness.
At some point in the novel, Theon offers to kill a bad guy who had caused his father much grief, to spare his father the lethal act as it were. Was that also inspired from your life?
Yes. Wanting to kill to protect my father was something I felt. I was fourteen when it happened. A drunk driver hit my father’s car. A case of soda bottles on the backseat hit the door interior, breaking several bottles and sending glass shards flying. My brothers and I were shaken but uninjured. My relieved father got out of the car to see if the other driver was hurt, and when the latter exited his car, quickly discovered the man was quite hammered. Furious, the drunk driver violently pushed my father to the ground. I was afraid, but then, I spotted a broken bottle between my feet, and everything changed. I purposely grabbed the base of the bottle, stepped out of the car and sped towards the attacker, fully intent on shoving the sharp end of the broken bottle into his gut. Fortunately for me, and the loaded asshole, a man who had stopped to help grabbed me from the back, about a foot from my target.
The story takes place at several points in time, even going back many millennia. Tell us about that.
There are five distinct timelines. 45% of the story follows Theon’s struggle in the present, from his discovery in a well as a baby to his entry into adolescence—the point at which Satan kidnaps him. 30% of the story follows Theon’s present-day battle against Satan and his quest for a cure to his condition, as he makes his way through the bowels of the Kingdom of Hell. 10% follows Jesus Christ and his uncommon relationship with Maria Magdalena, from Christ’s birth to his crucifixion, some 2,000 years ago. 5% follows Leonardo Da Vinci and the arrival and care of a mystery woman, including the woman’s impact on Da Vinci’s renowned paintings, some 500 years ago. Finally, 10% follows events, circa 37,000 years ago, preceding and surrounding the Great War in Heaven, pitting Deus, Lord God, against Satan; and follows events surrounding the treatment of Echoes (human souls) within the newly formed Kingdom of Hell.
Your depiction of God is, for lack of a better word, strangely human. Was that a reflection of your own beliefs?
I consider myself a Christian open to all possibilities. In the Old Testament, God is mostly portrayed as inflexible and vengeful, while in the New Testament, he is compassionate and forgiving. These are all human traits. Moreover, God is said to have created Man in his own image—the word image encompassing all aspects of humanity: physicality, psychology, emotion, and spirituality. It follows then that God might not be the unattainable guy most religions would have him be. He’s closer to us than we think.
It seems to me that God was positioned somewhere between the Old and New Testament depictions—not entirely vengeful or forgiving, as evidenced by the Sin policy enforced in Heaven and Hell—a policy based on Sin Scores of human souls.
It’s logical that there would be some measurement of sin, sanctioned both by God and Satan. Think of a hierarchy of sins, where a numerical score is attributed to each sin identified, based on its variable gravity rate and duration. Depending on how you led your life, you would either make the cut and go to Heaven, or you wouldn’t and go to Hell, destined to serve the unholy State and suffer. But there are rare exceptions. If you are remarkably sinful, Satan might add you to his elite ranks. Hitler was afforded such a privilege, even being bestowed land over which to rule. Theon would find out the exact nature of Hitler and his dominion.
Leonardo Da Vinci is a prominent character and mathematician. But it’s your treatment of his artistic endeavors that fascinated me.
I wanted to reinvent the origin of some of his most famous paintings. Among other things, we find out who really served as model for the Mona Lisa, and discover The Last Supper went through fundamental essence-changing iterations. And while these facts provided clues to Theon’s origins, none of it was a concern to the boy, who counted on Da Vinci’s intellect and knowledge of Hell to secure a cure to his condition.
In your book, you’re not very kind in your portrayal of the ruling Pope, who has no qualms about ordering Theon’s assassination. Even the Pope’s younger years are quite sordid.
It’s a fictitious character, of course. In history, there have been good Popes and bad Popes. The truly despicable ones have mutilated their predecessors, sold the papacy for money, murdered papal adversaries and cardinals, raped women, organized orgies, and murdered thousands through the Inquisition. And not so long ago, Pope Pius XII was arguably the most dangerous churchman in modern history. As Pontiff during World War II, not only did he fail to speak out against Hitler’s Final Solution: the extermination of the Jewish population in Europe, but he was accused of personally making the Final Solution possible. I would say the Pope in my story closely matches the latter’s ruthlessness.
Speaking of the Jewish faith, you clearly demonstrate that the Jewish religious leaders were not really the ones to initiate Jesus Christ’s path to death.
They were duped into it by a very influential force. And no, it wasn’t the Romans, or even God who perpetrated the deception. Enough said!
Last question. The truth behind Theon’s origin is frankly astounding. I was impressed by your boldness in going there.
Some readers will find it bold, even controversial; others will find it a natural conclusion to a multi-pronged story, rich in religious overtones. My philosophy is: if you can imagine it, then it falls within the realm of possibilities and can be told. Pure creativity knows nothing of limitations, which are, for the most part, culturally imposed. So, to all writers out there: put your thoughts to paper without compromise. Your unadulterated imagination is your oasis.
Published 2014-11-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Boy Who Set Fire to the Bible
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 146,760. Language: American English. Published: July 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Theon E. Rex is a boy plagued by dark forces. He’s the Pope’s greatest threat; the Priory of Sion’s definitive proof; and Satan’s ultimate weapon. Carried to Hell before his time, he seeks the help of Leonardo Da Vinci and Satan’s daughter. A frantic race ensues across Hell and into Heaven to find a cure to Theon’s explosive curse. What they discover about his origins is unthinkable...even to God.