Q&A with J. B. Simmons: Unbound
Interview by Brock Eastman
He must be released for a little while.
But the one who sees doesn’t believe.
Elijah Goldsmith has nightmares he needs to ignore. Why would a rich kid from Manhattan dream three straight nights about a dragon and the destruction of St. Peter’s Basilica? He’s never even been to Rome.
It’s bad timing, too. He’s graduating soon and applying to be a spy in the International Security Agency. That’s where he meets Naomi. She’s the kind of girl who makes boys like Elijah want to share their secrets. Were they brought together to learn what his secrets mean? There’s more to their sparks than they think.
This is 2066, the year the world ends.
"This is going to be huge. . . . The Da Vinci Code meets The Hunger Games meets Left Behind. . . . An imagining epic."
-- Hugh Hewitt, author and national radio show host
Brock: What’s it like to be an Amazon sensation?
J.B. Simmons book Unbound has become a #1 best seller in multiple categories over the past several weeks, his story and his publishing model has taken him to the top. What makes this story so popular with readers? I sat down with J.B. Simmons to get the latest on the first book in The Omega Trilogy.
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for The Omega Trilogy?
J.B.: Unbound started with little questions about a huge idea. The book of Revelation says that, after one thousand years bound in chains, “the dragon, that ancient serpent ... must be released for a little while.” That’s hard to understand. Why would anyone unleash the bad guy? What would the bad guy do, and how long is a little while?
Writing about these questions, and the characters that faced them, spun the story into the Omega Trilogy.
Brock: Wow, the timing of this interview couldn’t be better. This past Saturday we were discussing the thousand years in the college small group we lead at our home. J.B. take a minute to tell us about the main characters.
J.B.: Elijah Goldsmith has everything going for him. He’s the 18-year-old son of a New York banker. He’s smart, rich, and destined for success. But he starts having disturbing dreams. Soon events spiral out of his control. His fate is beyond anything he dreamed.
Naomi Parish is a Christian from North Carolina, raised by a former NBA star who became a missionary. She’s home-schooled, and a genius at coding. Like Elijah, she is enlisting in an international spy agency. She’s also stunning—the kind of girl who makes boys want to share their secrets.
Both Elijah and Naomi are unique because their background and skills, particularly when they’re together, put them in central roles as the world crumbles around them. They are chosen. A mystery confronted in the book is who, exactly, is doing the choosing.
Brock: Give us one fact about each main character that no one else knows.
J.B.: Elijah is Jewish, but he barely even believes in God. Naomi seems meek and perfect on the surface, but underneath she’s fiery, intense. Also, her favorite flavor of ice cream is Butter Pecan.
Brock: Always fun to get these little insights the author knows, but didn’t share in the book. In three words what is this book about?
J.B.: Revelation. Technology. Destiny.
Brock: Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
J.B.: I start with a basic idea and let the characters take control from there. But I do have a vision for the endpoint. The exciting part is seeing how the characters react to what happens around them.
Brock: My kind of author, my style’s the same. How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
J.B.: It’s about finding your way in challenging times. It’s also loaded with ideas about where technology is heading in the future.
Also, thanks to the year 2000 (remember Y2K?) and the Left Behind series, many are familiar with ideas about the millennium. Gut reactions abound for this end-times stuff. But, as many readers have said about Unbound, I can assure you that its ideas are fresh and new and will make you think differently about it all.
Brock: What is your favorite genre to write for?
J.B.: I’m still figuring that out. One thing is clear: I like to write books that tackle the hardest questions, and that move really fast. In our modern era of distractions, I hope my stories will grab readers’ attentions and not let go.
Brock: That is the challenge these days, especially for the younger market. Any certain research required for the book, or is it all from your imagination?
J.B.: I did tons of research. First, I studied Revelation, Daniel, and other prophecies extensively. This book was my favorite resource, because it compares the different end-times views objectively. I also read dozens of articles and books on the future. The trilogy takes place in 2066, when no one knows what the world will look like. One example is the “precept.” It’s a concept in the book about computing technology embedded in our normal brain functioning. Sound crazy? Well, two prominent MIT professors recently wrote a book, The Second Machine Age, that makes it seem pretty realistic, and maybe sooner than we think. Check out my blog for more info on the sources I used.
Brock: Wow that’s at the same time frightening and really interesting. Can you give us a hint at the next books in the series?
J.B.: Book 2 is called Clothed with the Sun. Book 3 is Great White Throne. The best hints you’ll find are in Revelation 12:1 and 20:11. Because those verses are so clear…
Brock: Always great to point back to the Word. How do you hope parents will use this book with their kids?
J.B.: This is a story that matters, because it seeks truth. I’ve heard from some parents who have been using it brilliantly – reading it out loud to their families as part of home-schooling. I think any parent who wants their kids to think about the future and faith will find this book to be a perfect fit.
Brock: What do you hope teens and young adults take away from The Omega Trilogy?
J.B.: That our world is heading fascinating places, with plenty of trouble on the horizon, but that there’s a higher power who’s in control. We can have hope no matter what comes.
Brock: Hope is a great thing to have. How long does it usually take you to write a single book?
J.B.: I try to finish a complete draft within 2-3 months. That keeps all the ideas in my head at once. But then I set the book aside for at least a month. It goes through many rounds of editing after that. The whole process takes around one year.
Brock: What do you think is the key for finishing a draft so fast?
J.B.: The habit of writing every day is huge. It took me a while to figure this out, but writing is so much better when it’s regular. Two books helped me understand this: On Writing by Stephen King and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. For anyone interest in writing, they’re must-reads.
Brock: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
J.B.: I went to law school with a goal of sharpening my writing skills. Then, about seven years ago, late one night, I was toiling over a legal brief and asking myself hard questions: “Who am I, why am I here, what am I doing?” An answer flashed in my mind like a bolt of lightning: “You are a writer.” Ever since, I’ve felt peace when filling a page with words.
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
J.B.: Coffee. I drink it black, preferably a light and recent roast. I have 3 kids under 5 years old, which is not always conducive to a full night’s sleep. One of my secrets is the coffee nap.
Brock: J.B. I know the feeling I’ll have 4 under 5 in just a few days from now. Favorite color?
J.B.: Midnight blue.
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
J.B.: Always. It’s usually beautiful, intense, and instrumental. Some of my favorites are Yann Tiersen, Sigur Ros, Mum, and Explosions in the Sky. Yann Tiersen is a French composer. His music is magical and genius. If you’re interested, his work on the soundtrack of Amelie is a good place to start.
Brock: J.B. Thanks for answering these questions. Readers you won’t want to miss out on this exciting trilogy. Book 2, Clothed with the Sun is also available now.
Author Website: www.jbsimmons.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JBSimmonsAuthor
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jbsimmonslight
Leave a Reply.