BIO: Monte Wolverton is an author, illustrator, and syndicated editorial cartoonist. His 2014 novel, Chasing 120, won an Illumination book award. He serves on the boards of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and Plain Truth Ministries, where he is also as associate editor and contributing writer. His work has appeared frequently in MAD magazine and more recently in Washington (DC) Monthly magazine. He participated in the 2014 St.-Just-le-Martel Editorial Cartoon Festival in
France, and in 2015, was invited to serve as a
judge for the prestigious Xaimen International Animation Festival in China. He is an
ordained minister and holds an MA from Goddard
College in Vermont. Wolverton resides in his native
southwest with his wife Kaye. Washington
Welcome, Monte. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
The central character in my first novel, Chasing 120, was somewhat autobiographical—a media professional and family man facing the collapse of his belief system and possibly his job. Grant Cochrin, the main character in the The Remnant—there’s perhaps less of me in him, but I’m still there.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky, you say? My wife would say that with me it’s less of a single event and more of an ongoing thing. I’d like to believe that most of my quirkiness is relegated to my art. But in terms of behavior (not counting high school and college), there was the time a couple of years ago when I was at an international cartoonists’ convention in
. I was
asked to sing a solo of the “Star Spangled Banner”—and chose to do so in the
style of Bob Dylan. They seemed to like it, judging from the applause. Saint-Just-le-Martel,
When did you first discover you were a writer?
My father was a writer/illustrator/cartoonist, so I had that excellent role model. In high school, I discovered that I really enjoyed writing, thanks to a wonderful English teacher, Trecia Greene. But I didn’t do much professionally with writing until decades later. In my graphic design business, I wrote a lot of advertising copy. Years later, I wrote articles for the magazine where I was design director. And about that time my MA program required a lot of writing, including a hefty thesis. After that, I became managing editor and spent most of my time pushing words around. But my first novel was published only three years ago, so what do I know?
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have always loved science fiction, as my father wrote and drew sci-fi stories for comic books from the 1930s through the 1950s. I have enjoyed Heinlein, Asimov, Lovecraft, and C.S. Lewis. I also like carefully researched historical fiction like Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and World Without End and Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon stories. My favorite author however remains Stephen King, especially his
series, both for
his style and subject matter. Yet when I look back at the books I’ve read,
there seems to be more non-fiction—science, politics, biographies of creative
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’m past the traditional retirement age, but I haven’t noticed a decrease in work and busy-ness. I have a studio out in the woods where I work nearly every day. And every day, if it’s not raining too hard, I take my two Rat Terriers up the hill and sit on a rock. It’s a great place to clear one’s mind, meditate, and pray, and I always discover something new and amazing there in the tangle of trees, ferns, and bushes. As composer John Cage said: “One shouldn’t go to the woods looking for something, but rather to see what is there.”
Sounds wonderful. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I have blatantly used names of friends and relatives, living and dead. That way (if they’re alive) they have to read the novel to see what I’ve done with them. A couple of character names in The Remnant are anagrams of well-known people. Another character I named after a kind of tree, as it was the first thing I noticed through a window when I was trying to come up with a name.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Usually the most recent one, no matter how mundane. For example, I just finished tiling 650 square feet of my studio floor. I think I’m proud of that. Also, I was pleased to serve as the only American judge at the Xaimen Animation Festival in
China a couple
of years ago. That was educational and cool.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I was fascinated with sloths before they were popularized through movies such as Ice Age. And I appreciate horses. But I identify most with dogs. Our two Rat Terriers are 16 and 18. The oldest is pretty deaf, has cataracts and arthritis, but works around his problems and just keeps going without complaint. He loves his walks, he loves his people, and he is well cared for. I should be so blessed in my latter years.
What is your favorite food?
Grilled wild salmon (or steelhead). And locally sourced sweet potatoes. And a salad with organic lettuce and avocado. With rice vinegar, olive oil, and feta cheese dressing. Accompanied by a
Riesling. And a
slice of wild blackberry pie. With organic vanilla ice cream. Followed by a cup
of dark roast coffee with cream and turbinado sugar. Well…you asked. Washington
Yum! What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
When you say problem, I take that not to mean challenge, as in the hardest work, but rather a hurdle that I had to surmount. For me, that would be offering visual cues as to what a character is feeling. I tend to try to handle those things in verbal dialogue or narration (is there anything else?). But a big part of human communication is body language. An editor pointed out that I need to show, for example, how a character shows his anger—not merely describe him or her as being angry, or have him or her say angry words. Such a thing is not that hard to write, but you have to keep reminding yourself to imagine how the characters look and what they are doing as they are conversing, and render that image for the reader. That made a big difference.
It took me quite a while to conquer deep point of view, too. Tell us about the featured book.
A future dystopian world is ruled by a totalitarian government that has forbidden religion and destroyed all sacred texts. Those who persist in religion are sent to work camps. A stalwart band of believers escapes from one of these camps and embarks on a spiritual quest through a lawless wilderness filled with violent gangs and bizarre cults—only to come face to face with an unthinkable choice. That description sounds dire, but I poke satirical fun at more than a few religious traditions, including parts of Christendom. I hope readers will be entertained, and gain perspective on the difference between institutional religion and an authentic personal relationship with Christ.
What if there were an Apocalypse and Jesus didn't return? What if the survivors found themselves living in a world ruled by a totalitarian government, where religion is forbidden and all religious texts have been destroyed? In The Remnant, award-winning author Monte Wolverton tells the tale of a band of concentration camp escapees who trek through the lawless American wilderness on a quest for authentic Christianity, only to come face to face with an unthinkable dilemma. The Remnant is a fast-paced story punctuated with dry satire, memorable characters, and hard questions about religious institutions.
Please give us the first page of the book.
On the eastern coast of
overlooking the Gulf of Hammamet and the Mediterranean
Sea, sits the Great Mosque of Monastir, a place of prayer since
the 9th century—but no longer. In the year 2062, a cataclysmic global war
prompted the World Federation to ban all religion. Now, less than a year later,
a high-level meeting was being held here in the mosque, repurposed like many
former places or worship as a museum and site for Federation conferences.
Ironically, the subject of this particular meeting was religion.
The men and women entering the cavernous hall were clearly familiar with making decisions, issuing orders and receiving respect. Some wore military dress uniforms, others wore dark suits that spoke of power. Chatting and posturing, they seated themselves in black leather chairs flanking a ridiculously long, polished ebony conference table.
In front of each chair was a name card, an agenda, a water glass and a smaller glass, which waiters filled with the attendee’s choice of strong coffee or Tunisian mint tea.
As ushers gently closed the ornate doors from the outside, a middle-aged man with wavy black hair, a blue-grey Italian suit and Mediterranean features called the meeting to order. His deep voice echoed through the hall. “Welcome, every one of you, to the first meeting of the Religious Directive Implementation Council.”
“Let’s hope it will also be the last,” quipped a portly gentleman in a military uniform. The group laughed, until they noticed the glare in the eyes of the chairperson.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can visit the Facebook group The Remnant—CWRpress at
Thank you, Monte, for sharing this book with me and my blog readers.The Remnant - paperback
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The Remnant - Kindle
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