Interview by Brock Eastman
Cliff Graham is a former US Army officer who now travels the country speaking and writing. He is behind a series of media franchises and author of the Lion of War series while. And now Graham brings us his latest series, Shadow off the Mountain.
Brock: Cliff thanks for joining us today. What was the inspiration behind Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus?
Cliff: After working many years in ministry and speaking to different conferences, churches, and men’s groups, I noticed that the older men in the crowd tended to feel left out of what was happening, and as a result, had begun checking out to spend time on the golf course. I thought it was time we had a look at a Biblical character who defied the idea of “retirement.”
Brock: Who are the main characters you chose to focus on and what makes them unique?
Cliff: The primary characters in the series are Joshua and Caleb, the two spies Moses sent out following the exodus from Egypt who then assumed mantles of leadership over all the people.
Brock: What is something about these two that others might not know?
Cliff: I’m sure others know this, but it is not common knowledge. It is likely that Caleb was not an ethnic Hebrew, but instead a member of a desert tribe known as the Kenizzites. He is one of the first examples of how God’ covenant with Israel was intended for all people.
As far as Joshua, he is one of the few characters in the Bible who never really “messes up” on an epic scale like so many others. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a great man doing great things in the power of his God.
Brock: That’s some good insight into these guys, and I’m curious now to dig into the passages in the Bible covering them. In three sentences what is the first installment of the series, Exodus, about?
Cliff: This is the gritty, intense portrayal of the journey from slavery in Egypt through the wars of conquest in Canaan through the eyes of Joshua and Caleb. It is about the nature of masculine friendship over a lifetime. It is an indictment of the idea that once you reach a certain age, you can just retire and take it easy.
Brock: Truly you’ve highlighted in these stories, the inspiration behind the series. Did you outline the entire series before writing?
Cliff: I am fortunate to be able to follow the basic outline of the Biblical narrative, so the overall structure is always known. I get to enjoy fleshing out details.
Brock: How long does it usually take you to write a single book?
Cliff: Depending on the clarity I have for the story and characters, and the time available after seeing through other responsibilities, I can draft a manuscript in 30-60 days. The editorial process can take longer.
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
Cliff: I believe it will speak to men young and old who love a great adventure story, and will help them understand and appreciate the Bible more.
Brock: How much leeway do you give yourself with facts in a Biblical fiction novel?
Cliff: I try to stay exactly with the Biblical narrative where Scripture is specific, but where it is silent, there is room for ample imagination, so long as the tone and intent of the fiction is to honor the Bible.
Brock: Is this your favorite genre to write for?
Cliff: Yes, Masculine war-based fiction about battle camaraderie, and the costs of heroism and leadership.
Brock: Where do you like to write?
Cliff: Oddly enough, I love to write on my staircase near the living room of my house! I need the isolation but I also love to hear the sounds of my family in the house. It staves off the loneliness inherent to writing.
Brock: Are you a full-time or part-time author?
Cliff: I am full-time as an author, but I also spend a lot of time in other creative endeavors. I own a few small media companies that are busy producing a lot of content.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Cliff: I was always a fan of Louis L’Amour’s fiction and his ability to paint a vivid scene in the reader’s mind. They were simple stories well told. To write for a mass audience, you want to be able to tell a story that is thought-provoking and of high quality, but never lose sight of accessibility.
Brock: What’s your view on the current publishing revolution and the digital age of media?
Cliff: It has made a big difference in my ability to get content out there sooner than I would have been able to otherwise.
Brock: What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
Cliff: Without question, Tarzan of the Apes. I read it when I was ten years old and never forgot its imagery and themes.
Brock: Coke or Pepsi?
Cliff: Coke Zero and it’s not close.
Brock: Soft shell or hard shell tacos?
Cliff: Soft, because that’s closest to a fajita.
Brock: Favorite place to vacation?
Cliff: In America, the mountains of Wyoming and Montana. Otherwise, Israel. I have not been able to make it to Europe yet, because I want to be at a place in my life where I can spend a huge amount of time there going to museums and studying architecture, history, and art.
Brock: Favorite season?
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like cocoa, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Cliff: Green tea with honey.
Brock: Favorite color?
Cliff: Navy blue.
Brock: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Cliff: Psalm 140:7
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
Cliff: The Pandora station “Movie Scores” to stir up storytelling senses, while also playing a thunderstorm on loop through another device.
Brock: Cliff I’m going to check out that Pandora Station for sure. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
Author Website: CliffGraham.com
Author Twitter: twitter.com/cliffgraham
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