Today’s special guest is thriller author Dan Sofer. He’s chatting with me about his new dark comedy, conspiracy thriller, Revenge of the Elders of Zion.
Welcome, Dan. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised in South Africa, I moved to Israel in 2001. Most of my novels to date take place in Jerusalem, where I lived for seven years. I now live near Tel Aviv with my wife and two daughters. Currently, we’re all isolated in our apartment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Wish us luck!
Please tell us about your current release:
In Manhattan, David Zelig decides to create a Jewish secret society based on the Elders of Zion myth. The Gentiles already think the Jews run the world; at least now a Jewish cabal might prevent the next synagogue shooting.
When older and wiser community figures reject his proposal, the restless young heir of Zelig Pictures moves forward on his own. Along with two of his childhood friends—a high-strung hi-tech entrepreneur and a self-centered playboy—David establishes The Trio. But running a clandestine organization is harder than David had expected. And far more dangerous.
Soon, the fledgling covert group falls into the crosshairs of some very real and very ruthless secret societies. And when law enforcement gets involved David’s well-meaning plan quickly spirals out of control.
Struggling to stay alive and out of prison, the friends debunk The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, chase a priceless collection of Fabergé eggs, expose the dark secrets of Imperial Russia, and acquire a very embarrassing relic from the dawn of Christianity.
Along the way, David will fall in love and uncover a complex web of conspiracy. He will discover the devastating cost of hatred and confess the true reason he created his secret society. To overcome painful injustices and prevent the most devastating anti-Semitic attack ever plotted on American soil, David will risk everything.
What inspired you to write this book?
The myth of the Elders of Zion cabal has caused so much hatred and violence, I thought the conspiracy theory was ripe for a satirical exploration. As Mel Brooks said of The Producers, his film that makes fun of Hitler, “If you can make people laugh at Hitler or tyrants in general, then you’ve won the day.” The same goes for hateful myths.
The protagonist of the story, David Zelig, thinks that if the Elders of Zion existed, the haters would think twice before picking on the Jews.
With the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States, the need to neutralize dangerous conspiracy theories has become even more important.
Excerpt from Revenge of the Elders of Zion:
David’s pen tapped against his notepad as the afternoon sun sank over the glittering waters of the Hudson. The horn of a barge honked, the sound muffled and far away.
“I don’t know,” Mitchell said. He sounded disappointed. “Snooping around social media and snitching to the cops—is that the best we can do? That’s not exactly in the spirit of the Elders of Zion. We need to fight the bad guys head-on.”
Jordan scoffed. “We could wear capes and beat up thugs in the streets.”
Mitchell’s eyes lit up. “Now you’re talking!”
“For the record, I was being sarcastic. The Elders of Zion didn’t have superpowers and neither do we.”
“I thought you said they never existed.” Mitchell flashed the whites of his eyes, convinced he’d caught Jordan out.
“And neither does Batman.”
David said, “Mitchell has a point. A secret society should have real power. The Trio shouldn’t be just another neighborhood watch.”
Mitchell said, “Yeah. We should be like the Punisher.”
Jordy snorted. “Why not Superman? At least he was created by Jews.”
“Sure. Like the Golem of Prague—a hero with superhuman strength who protects the powerless. Only the Golem was made of clay. Come to think of it, Mitch, you have a lot in common with the Golem.”
“Hey, watch it!”
“Guys!” David said. “We’re trying to find a real way for-ward here. Comic books and superpowers aren’t helping, and neither is your constant fighting.”
His friends holstered their sarcasm, and the Trio pondered the problem in silence.
“Information is power,” Jordan said.
The beginnings of a smile curled David’s lips. He liked this new direction.
Even Mitchell got on board. “Nice! We collect embarrassing information about powerful people and blackmail them to do what we want.”
“Extortion is illegal, Mitch.”
“Geez, Jordy, how are we supposed to run a secret society if we never break the law? That’s why it’s secret—so we don’t get caught!”
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a sequel to Revenge of the Elders of Zion as well as editing a psychological thriller.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About fifteen years ago, I decided to take my writing hobby more seriously. I bought books on writing craft, followed blogs of authors and literary agents, and devoted more time to writing.
About four years later, I sold a short story to a print journal in the US. I’m not sure I considered myself a writer then, but it was an important milestone and gave me the confidence to work on my first novel, which took another seven years.
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?
I hope to write full-time in future, but currently I work as a computer programmer to pay the bills. I’m a morning person. I get up early to write before anybody can stop me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write the marketing blurb before the book. That keeps me on track.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An archaeologist and a millionaire.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’ll be giving away over $500 in Amazon gift cards and merchandise for the launch of Revenge of the Elders of Zion. For details on how to enter, visit here.
To learn more about Revenge of the Elders of Zion, visit here.
Thanks for being here today, Dan. All the best with your book!