A letter from the author:
I had several goals in mind when I finally capitulated, and typed the first word into print.
My first goal was to do something fulfilling for myself. I had a story to tell and I wanted to tell it. And, I wanted to hold a printed copy of my own novel in my hands and quietly think to myself, wow, I did this. Looking back on it, the first goal was easier than the second:
I also have two children, both are girls. My second goal was to write a story of triumph that would illustrate just what the two of them will be capable of in their coming lives. In particular, I wanted to show them a strong female that would scrap her way through a man’s world, and come out an equal. The main character is Jana Baker, a fledgling FBI agent, surrounded by a double standard. She’s a young woman in the boys club of the FBI, so not only does she have to deal with the dangers, she’s got to deal with male coworkers who value a female agent less as compared to a male. I wanted my girls to see that these stereotypes exist, and yet, with guts and determination, they can blast though them.
My third goal was to entertain the reader and take them on a thrill ride that might even make them think of their own mortality. There are subtle undertones in the book that hint at the existence of heaven. Did you spot them all? It’s not a book all about God and heaven, it’s a thriller, steeped in conspiracy, secrecy, terrorism, and mainly, good versus evil. But keep a watch for images of grandfatherly figures that Jana comes into contact with. They resemble her own grandfather who raised her. He passed away several years ago. Is he watching over Jana now? And, the imagery of what Jana sees of heaven will make the reader consider what heaven really is. Did someone watch over you as a child? What did that person mean to you? What would you give for just a few more minutes with them? Jana faces these questions and so does the reader.
The roadblocks in my path to writing a novel
Since The Fourteenth Protocol was my first novel, I had several things blocking my path. How would I find the time to write a novel? How do you write a novel anyway? What if I wrote it, and everyone hated it? And what about grammar, spelling, and punctuation? If I am bad at those things, then how am I going to write an entire novel, and not have it look amateurish? I’m sure many others have faced the same things. I didn’t even know where to begin.
My novel strives to say to my kids, in no uncertain terms, life isn’t about not trying, it’s about doing. Life isn’t about whether you fell down or not, it’s about whether you got back up. So how did I write a novel to convey those life examples to my children when: I didn’t know how, I didn’t think I had the time, and, oh, by the way, I didn’t even have a story yet? Well, I begin by following one of my favorite rules of life: Experience is the best teacher, as long as it’s someone else’s experience. What does that mean? Well, it means you avoid mistakes by seeking out someone who’s gone before you, and find out how they did it. My choice was the author Stephen King who wrote a book called On Writing. I talk a lot about it on this page, so I won’t go into all the details again, but once I knew what to do, the rest just fell into place. The barriers came down. Suddenly, I knew it was possible. I didn’t have to create the entire story first, I didn’t have to create an extensive outline, I didn’t have to spend hours a day writing, and, I didn’t have to know every little thing about grammar, punctuation, and Chicago Style. Once liberated from those bonds, I started writing a little bit every day, and, I didn’t stop for nine months. It was like taking a shovel, and digging just a little bit each day, and digging, and digging, as I finally excavated the story that was buried down there the whole time. In short, my journey was the result of my own hard work. The main character, Jana Baker, has to work harder than the rest because she is an unproven female in the man’s world of the FBI. But, she doesn’t let that slow her down. If that is slowing you down, take inspiration in her example.
In the same way I found a way to make it work, even though I didn’t think it was possible, I wanted my two girls, and the reader, to see how Jana rose above adversity. How she rose against impossible odds, in dire circumstances. And in the end, no matter what happens to Jana Baker, the reader knows Jana did more than just live, she fought. There’s a line of dialog in the book that says “…guts is enough.” Well, I want my kids to take that to heart. Some things in life take guts. Jana had guts, and when a person is willing to jump into something they fear, propelling themselves forward by guts alone, then guts is enough. In the end, it won’t matter if you’ve been successful in your endeavor, as long as you tried. There’s nothing worse than not having tried, and looking back on it for the rest of your life with regret. Regret is poisoned soup for the weak, and I want my kids to triumph above it.
When you read The Fourteenth Protocol, you should walk away feeling exhilarated. Like there’s a hope out there no matter what. Hope will find you, if you only let it.
Nathan A. Goodman