What is After the Cross about?
At an archeological dig site in Istanbul, a discovery is made that is poised to rock Christendom to its very foundation -- an 800-year-old letter which makes the astonishing claim that the cross of Jesus still exists and has been safely hidden away.
This explosive news is kept quiet at the behest of Vladimir Zarco, a Ukrainian billionaire whose illegal business activities are threatened by the document’s discovery. He hastily convenes a team of experts in an effort to discredit the manuscript’s authenticity, but when their analysis points to it as being genuine, a bomb destroys the research center. Zarco shuts down the project and orders the surviving researchers to leave. Two of the linguists, Drs. Mallory Windom and Colton Foster, have other ideas. Once bitter enemies, they decide to hunt for the cross on their own, even though sinister forces seem bent on stopping them at all costs.
Mallory and Colton follow a trail of clues described in the letter, eventually leading them to Israel, where they find themselves battling against time, hired mercenaries, and each other. Despite the obstacles thrown at them, Mallory and Colton press on to an ancient Jewish town where the Cross has allegedly been hidden. They soon discover, however, that the fiercest battle is not from without, but from within, testing their beliefs, their ethics, and their growing love for one another.
How did you get the idea for this book?
I have a passion for history and regularly watch the History Channel on cable. Several years ago, there was a documentary about Helena, the mother of Constantine. He was the Roman emperor who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. When Helena converted to Christianity, she had a desire to visit those places she had read about in the Bible and decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 327 A.D. While she was there, she allegedly found what she considered to be the cross of Jesus. It was kept in Jerusalem until it was captured in battle in 1187 A.D. by the Muslim general, Saladin. Nothing is said about the cross after that. Watching that documentary got me thinking about the cross, and what would it be like if it somehow still existed, and what would happen if it were found in our time. And thus the story was born.
Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?
This is actually my 5th book. My other titles are: Dublin, When the Sky Fell, American Midnight, and The Crystal Portal.
When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I have been writing off and on for about 30 years. However, I didn’t start writing with the intent of getting published until about 8 years ago. Writing is a skill that needs to be honed and developed. Very few of us are natural writers. The only way you are going to improve is through practice, which means a lot of time writing stories. That means you need to write, write, and then write some more. Once a story is finished, send it out. When you get the inevitable rejection letter, and you will, send it out again. Keep sending out your story until you find that editor who likes your story as much as you. You need to develop a thick skin as a writer because you hear a lot of “nos” and very few “yeses.” However, when you do get your story published, it’s all worth the struggle.
The cross is a very powerful symbol that has represented the church for 2,000 years. People have many different views of what the cross means to them. In our story, we have one person who sees the cross as the instrument by which the sins of mankind were forgiven so we can have a relationship with God; another sees it as the means of healing his wife who is dying of cancer; another sees it as a threat and wants it destroyed; and another sees the cross as her ticket to fame and fortune. I think people generally view the cross in roughly the same way. In the end, [my co-author] Brandon and I focus on the simplicity of the cross and the message it represents -- that God came down in the form of a man, lived a sinless life, and through His death and resurrection on the cross, made salvation available to all mankind. It’s not the actual cross that did this, but what Jesus did on it.
Which character is your favorite, and why?
If I have to choose one, I would say Mallory Windom. Her journey in the story is the longest for all the characters. She is a deeply wounded person who has had a tough life and keeps everyone at arm’s length as a result. Mallory is in the hunt for the cross because of the opportunities it will afford her. She’s in it for the money and fame. As the story unfolds, she finds herself slowly discovering the true message of the cross, and recognizes many of the mistakes she has made in her life and what they have cost her. At the end of the story, without giving away the big climax, she must decide between her past and her future, and whether or not she will open her heart to everything God has for her.
If Jesus’ cross were ever found, what kind of impact do you think it would have on people?
That is an interesting question indeed. If Jesus’ cross somehow survived, and we could somehow verify its authenticity, it would be a momentous discovery indeed, perhaps eclipsing the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The problem for us will be what happens after that. Where would the cross go? Who would be the caretaker of it? The Catholic Church? The Orthodox Church? A neutral entity? Would it go to Rome, Jerusalem, or some other place? It is an artifact that many people would claim as its own, and I’m afraid it would divide people more than it would unite them.
On a personal level, I think it would drive many people closer to God. Can you imagine what it would be like to actually see, and perhaps touch, the actual cross Jesus sacrificed himself on so that man would be reconciled back to God? It would be a powerful moment indeed. Of course, I believe many others would contest the authenticity of the cross, or the purpose it served. And so in the end, it comes down to what each person believes the purpose the cross served, and its place in their lives.
Do you have a website?
How can we order this book?
It is available at www.ellechorpublishing.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Nook & Kindle.