Today features Christian fiction author Donovan M. Neal as he stops by to chat about his novel, The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars.
To find out more about Donovan, you can visit other tour stops. You can also use the form below to enter for a chance to win some book swag from Donovan. And feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too, to increase your chances of winning.
Donovan Neal M. S. N. P. has served in the ordained ministry and as an instructor in the Bible for 20 years, and is the author of the self-published book, The Gospel Explained. Donovan is also a prolific songwriter and singer having written over 50 different songs of praise and worship for the local church, and has performed in various schools and churches in the Ministry of Christian rap.
He is an Adjunct Professor at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is also a freelance writer for Examiner.com. Donovan has spent his entire 23-year career, helping underprivileged and disempowered populations ranging from abused and neglected children, adults with disabilities, to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. He has recently become the executive director of Hospitality House; a food pantry in Walled Lake, Michigan working to end hunger in his community.
Welcome, Donovan. Please tell us about your current release.
The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars is book one of a three part series that tells of the fascinating story of the Fall of Lucifer.
Lucifer, God’s perfect creation and who dwelt in his very presence, walked in the midst of the stones of fire. Yet rose up to betray the Lord and bring Heaven itself to civil war.
Many tales have referenced this great angelic war but few have sought to explore the dynamic relationships between God and the angelic hosts. Why did a third of heaven seek to overthrow their creator?
See Lucifer and his actions in a light never before seen. Journey back to the beginning, and see the drama unfold before your eyes: as allegiances are broken; choices made, and why all of creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
The prequel to the Bible is here!
What inspired you to write this book?
At the time that I started writing the book back around 2005/2006. There was no media that really addressed the story of the fall of Lucifer. I always thought it would make a powerful story, but no one had bothered to tell it. So I decided to tackle it myself. So essentially when the desire to write this book was birthed. It was to provide a form of wholesome Christian entertainment and to answer several questions: How could Lucifer who dwelt in the very presence of God elect to rebel against his creator? What could have gone so wrong that a third of Heaven would turn their backs on God? Toni Morrison has stated, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I am attempting here to do just that.
I will always remember the screams, the untold billions of screams.
The cries of the damned reverberated off the canyon walls. The sound of their wails stretched over miles with each moaning breath mingled into a cacophony of pitiful, tortuous laments. I beheld in fascinated horror as billions upon emaciated billions of humans and Elohim languished in agony. Their rotted and burning flesh stank as the winds made the hellish perfume waft across the skies, causing the air to reek with putrefaction. Blistering heat sizzled from the white-hot lake of molten rock and fire. Fire that licked and bit at each captive’s smoldering flesh, flesh forever burned but never consumed. Therefore, they screamed the residents of this canyon did –– it was a sickening sound.
Is this how Moses felt? I wondered. To behold a thing that burns but is not consumed?
“Please make it stop,” said one.
“I am sorry, oh God! Please, God! Listen! Jesus, do you hear me,” said another.
“I hate your guts! Do you hear me angel of God? I hate you!”
The voices melded and flowed, morphing into a singular pitiful cry for relief and anguish.
I watched as some fought to climb atop others in a futile struggle to escape the horrifying affliction. It was a fruitless skirmish from which none could expect release.
I suppose that it could be possible to flee. I saw neither bars nor chains to hold these souls captive. Straining and squinting, my angelic eyes viewed no doors that would prevent escape. Selfish preservation run amok, pain, and hopelessness prevented them. As one soul approached optimism and the border of freedom, another wretch dragged it back within the bowels of smoke and flames. The grotesque scene of twisted, writhing bodies, moved as the tide in this sea of fire and brimstone.
I observed them dance, the denizens of this canyon. Dance a relentless waltz of hope deferred. For there was no respite to soothe one’s pain, no aid to come to one’s side. None could leave, and salvation had forgotten this place.
The Lake of Fire consumed each incarcerated soul held captive by the insatiable passions of lust and self: a twofold punishment forever administered on these prisoners for all time. A memorial by El, forever to be remembered by us all.
The lake was an eternal smoldering monument of our war: a token of El’s wrath upon all those who had held back the truth in unrighteousness. My eyes were older than much of creation, and as they darted over the vastness of this everlasting torture, I remembered when I first saw the flames of the Kiln run amuck.
Yet even now, I found that I looked for him: my beloved, my brother, my friend, and my enemy, he whom my soul delighted.
I stood at the precipice of this jagged maw in the Earth’s crust of heat, smoke, and fire. I strained that I might see the Adversary. It has always been an easy thing for a creature such as I to find my own kind, and with Lucifer even more so –– quite easy actually. Knowing my brother, I needed only to look towards the heart of this mass grave of the spiritually dead.
He was still a creature of pride, and even here, even after all this time, Lucifer sought to be the center of all things. He smirked as he looked at me, but I am not deceived. I know that joy does not dwell in this place. The human Dante was prescient when he penned, “Hope had abandoned all those that entered here,” here in the Lake of Fire, even Hell herself could not flee.
Lucifer’s face I knew with intimate familiarity. The smirk on his lips masked an unspoken yet seething hatred from the inner knowing that he was “superior” to all in creation, elevated to stand in the very presence of God, yet cast down as rubble to be stared and looked upon, a creature to be pitied.
Oh how art thou fallen O Lucifer son of the morning. How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations.
It was this knowing, which I knew forever would gnaw at him the reason for his smirk. Our gaze was short as smoke enveloped him, yet through the veneer, yes, I saw it–– a tear.
Then he was gone; veiled in smolder and fire; and pummeled by the legions he once sought to rule. Forever crushed underfoot by those, he deemed chattel, forever humiliated.
Never in all my days did I believe my eyes would behold such a sight.
I turned away as I could behold such suffering for only so long. Even one such as I had limits.
I am relieved that the war is over.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.
This victory was not without loss, not without pain.
“Have you come to mock me, Michael?”
Lucifer’s voice could not be mimicked or masked. There was one being in creation that sounded thus. Only he could speak so that even from the Lake of Fire my attention could be garnered.
I am hesitant to reply. I do not wish to look upon this murderer.
We will not speak again after today: I know this; therefore, I turned to face him for the last time.
“What manner of conversation would I engage with the King of Lies?”
As I looked upon his face and body now disfigured, I steeled myself. There was a time when I shed tears for my brother, but that was millennia ago. Too much blood had been spilled between us, too many wounds. Mercy no longer beat within my breast for him, yet even now, I could not help but ruminate on more pleasant times. I drifted into reflection, and daydreamed back to the beginning of it all––still questioning––still wondering.
What exciting story are you working on next?
There are two books that I am wrestling with. One is the sequel to the book in this series. I have been working on the outline for the novel, and getting the “star stuff” together to form the plot in my mind. Essentially now that Lucifer has wrought this destruction in Heaven and third of her populace has left how has this impacted the Heavenly host? What has transpired as we begin to move from the fall of man to the resurrection of Christ. We see the story in the Bible, my challenge now is to pull back the fictional curtain of what was going on in the heavenlies during major events in the Bible. I’m excited petrified to begin!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first book in high school for a creative writing class. It was a 100 page novel, I forget the title of it. But it was a mix of star, wars, star trek, and Battle Field Earth all rolled up into one. I got an A on it. I then started another novel before I left high school and latter dropped it my freshmen year of college. In my zeal to live for the Lord I didn’t feel I could write about magic and things like that. So I let it go. I remember it was going to be a book about the adventures of my dungeons and dragons character. That was about 1985 and I knew I had the ability to tell a story back then. I wrote my first non-fiction book The Gospel Explained back in 1996, revised it then reprinted it on Lulu.com back in 2010. But I guess I didn’t really consider myself a writer until I published on Lulu. When I held the hard copy in my hand that first time. I remember feeling I could write so much more. And so my journey began.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No I have a day job that occupies a lot of my time I currently work as the executive director of a food pantry in Michigan so that consumes a lot of my time, and I teach monthly as an adjunct at a community college so my writing is not at the point of popularity where I can leave the day job yet. Maybe one day So currently I write in my spare time. I usually write at night. It’s hard for me to write during the day, there are too many distractions. But when its quiet at night I seem to concentrate better. I also write in the early morning.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I write I hear the music from the movie in my head, (yes I think all my books would look cool on film!) and I try to write to the level of emotion I feel in the music. I like to listen to trailer music to inspire me as I write.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an commercial airline pilot, but wearing glasses kinda put the kibosh on that idea. But I would love to fly an airplane.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think the main thing is that as a writer, and as a person of faith I’ve tried to create something that my own kids could read that was filled with adventure but had a biblical world view. I’ve already received some conservative Christian responses to my work, and a select few have expressed fear about the subject matter. I try to tell everyone, “be calm…it’s make believe!”
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Thanks for the interview!
You’re very welcome, Donovan. Thanks for stopping by.