Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Interview with author Dennis Holt!

Today we take a break from the Dark Hour festivities to sit down with a very special guest. First, a preface.

Hop in your wayback machine and travel with me to 1998. I was a fresh-faced twenty-year-old with a rekindled passion for horror movies. The very first concepts for The Coming Evil Trilogy were slowly beginning to take shape in my head. As I've joked about in interviews, I had a time growing up a monster fan, as my mother did not always approve of my more macabre interests and often encouranged me to accompany her to the local Christian bookstore to purchase a more wholesome alternative. Those trips generally proved to be a bust, but one Saturday afternoon, I followed along with Mom to the Storehouse Bookstore in Jonesboro, Arkansas and happened upon The Principality.

I was instantly drawn to the imagery. I read the back of the book and was immediately struck by the subject matter--that of spiritual warfare against physical demonic forces. I was even more surprised when I realized that the author, Dennis Holt, was from my area! I picked up the book The Principality that day, and read it in a single sitting. I was hooked. This was unlike any Christian fiction book I ever read. For starters, it was gritty. There was cursing (where character appropriate), there were real physical demons wreaking havoc on a small Arkansas town, there were depictions of Satanic rites--like ripped right from a horror movie. This was NOT something seen in the CBA. But, more importantly, in the midst of all of that, there was a bold and unashamed approach to discussing and exploring matters of the Christian faith. The book was siffused with theology, but always explained in the context of this occult tale. While it was not an inspiration for The Coming Evil, it was most certainly an affirmation to me--that I could write a story that was equal parts fear and faith. It was explosive and exciting and, at the forefront of it all was the character of Father Rex Macon, a Catholic Charismatic priest. He's a bit old-fashioned and a consummate gentleman, but when this mild-mannered man enters a house inhabited by demonic presences, he is a spiritual powerhouse, unflinching in the face of unspeakable horrors, perfectly confident in his standing as a child of God. He is bold and cunning and hip to any number of arcane and estoteric knowledge, which has placed him at odds with a townspeople who think he's an oddball and a Church who believes exorcism is a thing of the past.

I contacted Father Macon's creator, Dr. Dennis Holt, way back in the pre-internet-abundant age when you had to flip through an out-of-county phone book and dial every "Dennis Holt" until you found the right one. Dr. Holt was so very kind to me, gracious and informative. He was the first published author I ever spoke to and we spent a number of Saturday afternoons back in those days discussing self-publishing (in a pre-Print-On-Demand, pre-ebook world), writing, and promotion. I soaked up his insight and continued to buy the next two Father Macon books he released, The Manitou and The Anakim. Then...all went silent. Years passed--thirteen years, in fact--and I get a message from Dr. Holt, who I had not spoken to in many years, telling me that Father Rex Macon was back! Not one, but TWO new books have been released and I, for one, couldn't be happier.

It is my privilege to have Dr. Holt with us today, talking about Father Macon's return in The Sorcerer, now available on Amazon in print, Kindle, and Nook.

Greg Mitchell: Dr. Holt, it's a real treat to have you here. Tell us about your new book The Sorcerer

Dennis Holt: The Sorcerer is the fourth book in the Father Rex Macon Spiritual Warfare Series. In the novel I bring back the character of Jamie McClain from the first novel, The Principality. In the first novel she gives her life to Christ. In The Sorcerer she becomes a missionary on the remote island of Papua New Guinea. While there she learns of a tribal chieftain who is sacrificing babies in ritual abuse. Disgusted with this she departs to challenge the tribal chief. When she doesn’t return, her pastor calls Father Macon who through the prompting of the Holy Spirit knows he must go find Jamie. As the story develops, he realizes that there is much more to his quest than just rescuing Jamie. The demon Molech has possessed the tribal chieftain and is using him and the sacrificing of the innocents to administer a plan that will destroy the physical earth. The trek through the jungle and confrontation with the Sorcerer demonstrates the concern and power of the Holy Spirit for all His sons and daughters on the earth.

GM: The first Father Rex Macon adventure--The Principality--was released in 1998. What was that initial inspiration for the first book? Where did Father Macon come from? 

DH: My wife and I had been involved in deliverance ministry for about two years with the Christian Counseling Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. During that time we had encountered the reality of Satan and his demons on several occasions. Most people, however, knew very little about evil spirits, even those who had been Christians for years. I had written several books on Christian life and many people encouraged me to write a book on dealing with evil spirits. I wrote a book called Strategies of Spiritual Warfare. I was preparing to publish the book when I heard the Lord tell me, “No.” This was 1997-98. He said that society was getting ready to change drastically; entertainment would take center stage in the lives of people and that a novel would be a much better format for presenting the information. I laughed. I told Him that I didn’t know how to write a novel but I obeyed. It was very interesting. Prior to my baptism in the Holy Spirit I had spent seven years in the New Age. This was back before most people had even heard of New Age. During those years I would spent hours in meditation and I developed a method of talking to myself while meditating. God redeemed this gift and used it to help me write The Principality. I could hear the characters conversing with each other and I wrote down what they were saying. The plot came from the things we had encountered during our time in deliverance ministry. It was an exciting experience.

The Father Rex Macon character came as a combination of several people and my life’s interests. I have always loved archaeology, even as a small boy. My love of the subject has been the pivotal part of every novel I have written and thus Father Rex Macon had to have a degree in archaeology. I wanted the character to be an Indiana Jones-type individual who loved Christ and represented the Kingdom of God. The idea of making him a Catholic priest came from a close friendship I had with a priest here in Arkansas. He was young and on fire for God and he demonstrated in his life what I thought Father Rex should be. What drives Father Macon is his love of God and his knowledge that demons are real and their intent is the destruction of human souls. I must add, however, that I thought The Principality would be my first and last novel. God had other ideas.

GM: No kidding! So, you've also written a number of non-fiction books about spiritual warfare. Was the jump to fiction a difficult transition? Which one do you prefer? 

DH: I have shared how I started writing novels. It was entirely the Lord’s prompting. He was right about entertainment taking center stage. The internet has become a huge platform. I never published the book, Strategies of Spiritual Warfare. I’m not sure that the public is ready for that information today. So many are in denial that demons even exist. My first goal in all my novels is to teach; the second is to entertain. I remember one reader of The Principality writing me and stating that she couldn’t read the novel until her husband was home. It was too scary. Christians should not be afraid of Satan or his demons but so many are ill-informed of the subject.

I really have no preference between fiction or non-fiction in my writing. My goal is to build the Kingdom of God on this earth. If I can educate the public more and better through novels then that is the modality I will use. I will say that I spend more time writing the novels because fabricating a believable plot sometimes takes several weeks of meditation and much more research.

GM: What initially struck me when I first read The Principality back in '98 was how cinematic it was. The battles between Father Macon and the demons is very dynamic and exciting, and completely felt like I was watching a movie. Do you enjoy movies that deal with the supernatural? If so, what's your favorite? 

DH: I do enjoy movies that deal with the supernatural. I believe most people do because they know somehow that the supernatural is our true home. Remember when we were children how we always enjoyed the ghost stories the most?

GM: Exactly.

DH: Two thirds of every human being deals with the supernatural – spirit and soul. For that reason I think it will become more of an attraction to people as time goes forward. Like you, Greg, I am just helping the process along.

My favorite movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is full of supernatural content. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist that speaks several languages, is an expert in the occult and is a handsome main character. Sound familiar? I always thought that if The Principality was ever made into a movie, Harrison Ford would make a good Father Rex Macon. Another movie I enjoyed is The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Right down my alley. In that movie as soon as I see the bed covers being pulled down by an unseen “hand,” I knew what kind of demon was involved. It was a good movie and it helped to educate people of the reality of evil spirits. Like my novels, it was teaching as it was entertaining.

GM: The last Father Macon book, The Anakim, was released in 2000! Here we are, thirteen years later, and the new book is out. That's got to be exciting. Why did you feel that now was the time to return to this character? 

DH: One word, internet. In the past I used to travel and minister nearly every weekend. Sale of my teaching books as well as the novels helped to defray my costs. After The Anakim I began to slow down my ministry travels and I really had no outlet for my books. I continued to write because I love to write but the manuscripts stayed on outdated hard-drives. The Principality was very popular at the time. I had to do a second printing.

I received, however, more letters regarding The Manitou than any other novel especially from convicts that received the free copies that I sent to the prisons of Arkansas. I still have those letters and pull them out periodically when my writing needs encouragement.

Because I had no outlet I let the manuscripts sit until I saw the power of the internet. Through that outlet I have been able to once again present my novels to the general public. It was now time to dig out the old and the newer manuscripts. The Sorcerer was a refresher of the two most popular characters – Father Rex and Jamie McClain. It just seemed to fit. I did more research on this novel than even The Anakim. The plot came as I was studying the idea of a pole shift and the effects of sin on the planet. “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” As a writer and a student of Scripture that verse has always held some fascination for me. With the false teaching of global warming I thought people needed to know the truth from the Creator’s perspective. It was time for Father Macon to reappear.

GM: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've actually already released the fifth Father Macon book as well: The Witch

DH: I wrote The Witch several years ago. At the time I thought it was a little bold for Christian fiction. Early in my writing, there was a Christian book store selling my novels. They called me one day and had me remove the novels from their shelves because of a few “bad” words in The Manitou. It was true. One of the characters had a foul mouth, but I was trying to teach the principle that life and death are in the power of the tongue. The demon in the story uses the man’s foul mouth to destroy his character but the truth of that teaching was lost because someone thought that truth had no place in Christian fiction. Fortunately for the Body of Christ we’re beginning to see that denial helps no one and that the truth has the power to set us free. I finally pulled The Witch manuscript out because of what is happening today. The shootings at schools and malls, the murder of adults and innocent children has a name and that name is evil. It really bothered me that no one has even considered in these horrendous occurrences that Satan and his demons might be a vital part. I know it’s not going to come from the secular media but I have not heard one word from the Church. Evil is not even a consideration. Again, it’s time for Father Rex Macon to fight the wrong. The Witch is presented on my website but it will not be released for about two more weeks. It is, however, the first of my novels that I recommend for mature readers only.

GM: What's next for Father Macon? Do you have any more books lined up? For years, I've been hoping to see Father tackle an "alien" conspiracy :) 

DH: At the present I am putting the finishing touches on The Apparition. It is set in Mexico and the plot centers around Genesis 3:15. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers.” Father Rex is called to Mexico by an apparition of our Lady of Guadalupe. Satan’s seed is rising and threatening the work of the seed of the woman. Greg, you are going to get your wish. The seed of Satan is manifested as the seed of the Nephilim who have resurfaced as the Grays - aliens from inside the hollow earth.

GM: Whoa! Seriously?! I am so totally stoked to hear this!

DH: Their conspiracy to take over the earth can only be thwarted by one man. You guessed it – Father Rex Macon. I hope to have it ready by this fall. Before that, however, the next release will be the sixth novel, The Visitor. This novel is set in New Mexico and it brings back another popular character – Chief Walking Cloud [from The Manitou]. I had several people write and ask me to bring his character back again. It is really a neat story line. A strange character is found inside a time capsule after a fresh Indian archaeological site is discovered. The government immediately steps in and tries to hide the discovery but the visitor is a being with a mission. He is here to warn modern man of why Atlantis was destroyed and how we are heading in the same direction. Father Macon and the old chief fight to make sure the message is heard. It has a pretty exciting ending. Release time, I hope, will be this summer.

GM: That is fantastic. I have a lot of reading to catch up on! Now, tell us about your ministry at Cornelius' House. How are things going over there?

DH: Cornelius’ House Ministries is still very active. Our main goal is to assist the Holy Spirit in ushering in the Kingdom of God on this earth. Everything I do and everything I write is dedicated to this end. We are not on the road as much as in the past, but we have not lost our fervor. I have written several books on spiritual life. I am just this week finishing the book - The Three Journeys: Man’s Way Back To A Holy God.

For those viewers in Arkansas, I co-host a TV show on VTN (Victory Television Network) out of Little Rock. Show times are: Tuesdays 5:30AM; Wednesdays 10:30PM and Fridays 2:00AM. I join Dr. Douglas Wheeler as we discuss the Word of God from the Hebraic perspective.

I do still travel some and lead seminars, retreats, etc. on various spiritual topics. I also lead praise and worship for the Catholic Charismatic Conference every year in Little Rock. I still practice dentistry three days a week so my schedule stays fairly full.

GM: Thank you so much for stopping by. Any parting words? Where can people buy your books or visit you online?

DH: Thank you Greg for asking me to join you. I believe that we are entering a time when Christian fiction will become a very popular genre. Things are getting pretty scary out there and people are waking up to the idea that darkness is becoming oppressive. As they seek for answers, Christian fiction will lead the way. Look at all the television shows that deal with ghosts, aliens, or the supernatural in general. People know there is more out there than what they have been taught. They are looking for answers. Hopefully that is where your books, my books, and all those who write Christian fiction can lend a hand. Remember when Satan comes in like a flood the Lord always raises a standard against him. I hope to be part of that standard.

All of my books, fiction and non-fiction, can be found at: corneliushouse.com. The novels can be found on E-book at Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com as well as other E-book outlets. Our ministry e-mail is: dfholt@suddenlink.net.

This has been a lot of fun. I hope to do it again in the future. I look forward to reading your new novel as well. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to use your gifts and your talents for the glory of God. God bless.

GM: It's been a lot of fun for me, as well. Good to catch up and very happy to hear about more Father Rex Macon novels on the horizon.

Thanks to everyone for tuning in! Follow the Father Rex Macon series on Facebook!

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