Monday, July 27, 2020

SON OF MARY - Randy Ingermanson - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I’ve known Randy Ingermanson for decades, and I’ve loved every book of his I’ve read. Many of them were outside the box for the time period when they were published. He’s an amazing author, and like me, he spends time helping other authors improve their work—and work easier.

Welcome back after a long time, Randy. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Every character of mine gets a little of my DNA. Some of them get only a little and some get a lot, but I’d say none of them ever gets more than about 1/3 of their genes from me. Of all my characters, probably my man Dillon Richard in my novel Double Vision is most like me, but I’d say Ari Kazan from my City of God series is also a lot like me. And Yoni, from my Crown of Thorns series has a striking resemblance to me at the age of 13.

I absolutely loved Double Vision. It helped my brother understand his grandson who is high-functioning on the autistism scale. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don’t know if this counts as quirky, but my wife and I were accosted by a team of pickpockets in Jerusalem several years ago.

In that particular part of the city, the difference between a safe neighborhood and an unsafe neighborhood can be a hundred yards or so. We found ourselves in an unsafe place where there were two of us and three of them. They were young and nimble, and we were not.

The only advantage we had was that we knew they were pickpockets, and they didn’t know that we knew.

At one point, one of them had his hands on my iPhone. Unfortunately for him, I had a stronger grip.

It’s too long of a story to tell here, but we stayed calm and did what we had to, and we got back to a safe neighborhood with our wallets still in our pockets.

And the whole time, I was thinking this will go into a novel, someday.

That’s what novelists do. I’m still waiting for the book where I can use being caught in a riptide on a beach in Mexico, where I nearly drowned. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote my first book when I was in grade school. The title of the book was The Lion That Didn’t Like Noise.

Nobody told me to. I just sat down and wrote it out. I don’t remember exactly when, but probably second or third grade, because I was obsessed with lions in second grade.

I have no idea what happened to that story, but from that time on, I knew that someday I was going to write fiction and get it published.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
In a pinch, I’ll read practically anything, even the back of the Cheerios box.

I read quite a lot of nonfiction, most of it as research for my novels. So I’ve read at least a couple of hundred books on the New Testament world, history, archaeology, Biblical studies, cultural anthropology, and sometimes philosophy. Once in a while, I even read a book on theology, although that’s not my main interest.

I also read tons of fiction. In graduate school, I got a taste for spy novels, so for a while I read a lot of Robert Ludlum, John LeCarre, Tom Clancy, etc. I like a good legal thriller. I was also a huge fan of both The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. I also like World War II novels, and just about anything by Ken Follett will get my money.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It sounds like you imagine that I’ve kept my sanity, so I’ll play along and pretend I have.

The truth is that real life is chaos, this year more than any I can ever remember. My wife helps keep me on balance, more or less, and I have a circle of 12 very close friends who I stay in touch with constantly.

As for dealing with the chaos, I’ve steadily gotten better over the years at managing tasks and projects. I’m a big fan of a tool at that helps me track all the things I’m not doing. And I’ve found David Allen’s bestselling book Getting Things Done to be exceptionally powerful.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Lately, that’s been very easy, because I’ve been focusing on historical novels set in the New Testament time period, and so most of the character names are handed to me.

When I add in a fictitious character, I make sure to use names that were actually used in the first century in Jerusalem or in Galilee. Archaeologists and Biblical scholars have compiled lists of those names along with their frequencies, so we know that half of all women in Jerusalem were named either Miryam or Shlomzion. And we know that around 15 to 20% of all men had the name Shimon.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’d say it’s earning a PhD in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley. The reason I’m proud of that is that there was no luck involved. Nobody hands you a PhD at UCB for just showing up. You have to do the work and earn it.

I don’t come from a family of academic people. My dad was a diesel mechanic for the US Army and my mother never went to college. So we had no family tradition of college or graduate school.

But I decided in high school that I wanted to understand how the universe works, so I majored in physics in college, and ten years later, I had the PhD.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I have several cats, and they seem to have it pretty easy, so I’ll go with a cat.

What is your favorite food?
My wife makes a mean stir-fry, with tofu.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of time for writing. There’s a lot going on in my life besides writing.

I have a day job that keeps me thinking hard all the time, and I have a wife and family. My daughters are now grown and on their own, but it was a constant scramble for many years to earn a living. And we have about two and a half acres of land that needs attention.

I have only one hour per day budgeted for actual writing. So that’s my challenge, to manage what little time I have and get my books written.

I do what I do with help from the tools I mentioned above— and the methods of the Getting Things Done book.

Tell us about the featured book.
My novel, Son of Mary, is the first book in a series of four novels about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

In this book, I’m focusing on what should be an obvious question. And yet I’ve never yet read a book that raises this question: What did Mary tell the village about how she got pregnant?

Christians looking back over 20 centuries somehow think it was “obvious” that everyone knew that Mary got pregnant via a miracle.

But that is not obvious at all. Nobody at the time believed the Messiah would be born to a virgin. Nobody read the prophecies of Isaiah that way at that time.

If one of my daughters had come home pregnant at the age of 12, I wouldn’t believe a story about a miraculous conception. If your daughter did it, you wouldn’t believe it either.

Nazareth was a farm village of mostly peasants. Those are the hardest people in the world to fool about an unplanned pregnancy. Farmers have goats and sheep and cows that get pregnant. They know how it happens. They know a young girl of the age of 12 doesn’t just get pregnant on her own. They know there has to be a man involved.

And it seems very, very, very likely that Mary never told anyone anything about how she got pregnant.

How can I say that with such confidence?

Because I read the Bible. If Mary had told anyone that her child was due to a miracle by God, who would she have told first? Obviously, Joseph. Because he was the guy who was going to marry her. If anyone would have demanded an explanation, it was Joseph.

But the Bible clearly tells us that Joseph didn’t get a satisfactory explanation from Mary. Read it yourself here:

Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph wanted to break off the wedding. Does that sound like a man who got a good explanation from his fiancée?

Matthew 1:20 tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and explained it to him. If he already had a good explanation, why did he need an angel?

So we have only two possibilities:
Mary told Joseph, but he didn’t believe her, so it took an angel to convince him.
Mary never told Joseph at all, so he needed an angel to explain it to him.

I think Mary was smart enough to know that Joseph wouldn’t believe her. So she didn’t tell him. And if she didn’t tell him, she didn’t tell anyone. And you can bet Joseph didn’t tell anyone either, for the exact same reason—farmers would never believe such a thing. Farmers are not stupid, and they would resent being treated as if they were gullible fools.

Now think about that situation. The village knows Mary is pregnant. They know that Joseph is not the father, because they know Joseph is a righteous man AND he almost divorced her over the matter (see Matthew 1:16). They conclude that some other man of the village must be the father.

Nazareth was a small village of maybe 200 souls. In a village like that, every woman is asking if her husband was the one who got seduced by that shameless little hussy, Mary. And every man is furious that his own wife suspects him of crawling in bed with that hot little number, Mary.

See what’s happened? Everyone blames Mary. Everyone hates Mary. And everyone is going to rub her nose in it for the rest of her life, until she comes clean and confesses her sin and tells the village who is the blood father of her son Jesus.

And Mary can never set the record straight, because how can she do that? There’s no way in the world to prove a virgin conception. There’s no way. Mary has to endure humiliation from the village year after year in shame, and it never gets better.

And that’s the problem Jesus has to solve in Son of Mary. Can he clear his mother’s name? Can he remove the stigma from his own name?

And by the way, if he can’t, then there’s no way he’s ever going to convince anyone he’s the Messiah, because the true son of David needs to be a legitimate son of the line of David. That’s in the Bible too.

Jesus has a serious problem. How’s he going to solve it?

I so agree with you, Randy. I’ve written a series of dramatic monologues around the birth of Jesus. And that aspect is included in them. Please give us the first page of the book.
My son Yeshua is making a scandal again.

He just came in the village gate holding the hand of a woman.

That is not done in Israel. It is a big scandal if a man talks with a woman. A bigger scandal to walk with a woman. Bigger yet to hold the hand of a woman.

But my son does all these things.

My Yeshua does not fear to make a scandal.

That is why I love him best of all my sons.

I am sure the woman is a sinful woman. A woman of shame. A zonah.

My son has brought home zonahs before. The village says it is a foolishness. I say it is a kindness.

Yeshua stops inside the gate to greet the village elders who sit all day taking their ease in the cool shade. He talks with the men and smiles kindly on the zonah, both at the same time.

The men do not look on the zonah, but they look on Yeshua and grin on him and slap their fat thighs and make a mighty roar on some jest he makes.

Yeshua turns and smiles on me.

It warms my heart that he smiles on me in the face of the village elders, who hate me. There was some man of HaShem who told me once that a sword would pierce my heart on account of Yeshua. That has not happened yet, and I beg HaShem it never will. When my son smiles on me, I can almost forget the matter of piercing.


Yeshua pulls on the zonah’s hand to come this way.

I am standing outside our house, which is at the south end of the village. Nazareth is long and narrow, one dirt street with stone houses on both sides. The village gate opens into the village square, not far from our house.

Yeshua makes a big smile on me.

He runs at me.

He lifts me in his arms and spins me around and around.

He kisses my left cheek. He kisses my right cheek. He kisses my lips.

A kiss and a kiss and a kiss, in the open street, as I am some man of honor and not the most shamed woman in the village.

Wow! That’s powerful. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is at

Thank you, Randy, for sharing this with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read the book.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Melissa Leedom said...

Met Mr. Ingermanson about 16 years ago at a writer’s conference in Denver. Was introduced to his great science fiction. Would love to read this latest from him,

Melissa Leedom, Author
To Forgive, Divine
The Story of the Bible

Randy Ingermanson said...

Hi Melissa! I'm guessing that was the ACFW conference, back when it was still called ACRW and there were only about 10 men attending. I remember meeting a whole bunch of people at the 2004 ACFW conference, and I think Lena was one of them. We were all much younger then.


Ruth Hunter said...

I read a couple of your books and I am looking forward to reading a couple more!

Lois Hudson said...

Thanks for this great interview! I've read a number of Randy's sci-fi, and am currently reading Premonition from the City of God series. He's always an engaging story-teller.

Morninginspirations said...

I have known Randy since we were 15 years old picking berries to earn our way through boarding school. I have read 2 of his book and look forward to this one! I have always admired his hard work ethic and great mind. Congratulations! Randy!

Morninginspirations said...

I have known Randy since we were 15 years old picking berries to earn our way through boarding school. I have read 2 of his book and look forward to this one! I have always admired his hard work ethic and great mind. Congratulations! Randy!

Nancy Payette said...

Sounds fascinating FL

MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA said...

I already own a copy of SON OF MARY, so please do not include me in the drawing. I wish to say, however, that this novel is one of the most powerful works of fiction I have ever read. I highly recommend it. Here is the review I posted on Amazon:

"With this novel, Randy Ingermanson has completed the first book in the series that will, I believe, become his magnum opus and will define not only his career as a novelist but also his place in literary history. SON OF MARY is a compelling, heart-stirring story, authentic in its writing and transformational in its impact. You will weep, worry, laugh, and learn as the story immerses you in the pivotal days when Jesus Christ walked the earth. I highly recommend this novel to all fans of Biblical fiction—and non-fans, as well--and look forward to reading the next one in the series." ~ MaryAnn Diorio, Novelist

Lucy Reynolds said...

This is a new author to me. This book sounds fascinating. Blessings from WV.

Elly said...

This is actually very intriguing. I definitely wanna read it😉
Elly -Indiana-

Abigail Mitchell said...

I love books based on Bible times. Would love to read this!
Abigail in VA

Dana McNeely said...

A fantastic question to ask! I'd love to win this, but win or not, I'll be reading it.
Dana McNeely in Glendale, AZ

Randy Ingermanson said...

Morninginspirations is not kidding about picking berries. She and I picked raspberries all one summer in the hot sun. Honestly, I was not thrilled to find out I'd been assigned to pick raspberries, but I decided that I'd be the best picker in the entire crew. And I would have been, except for Morninginspirations and a girl named Bonnie. The three of us worked like crazy and consistently were the top pickers every day. I suspect it was a matter of survival for all of us. I came from a family with not much money, and the Christian boarding school we were going to was expensive, so I did what I had to do. It gave me a good work ethic.

And MaryAnn, thanks so much for the glowing review of Son of Mary. I appreciate it. My editor tells me this is my best book, and I think she's right. I actually started the book in the fall of 2004, but the project crashed and burned and I waited a long time to pick it up again. But in the meantime, I got a little better as a novelist, and did insane amounts of research, so in the end, it's a better book than it would have been.

Connie Leonard said...

Randy, I met you at an ACFW Conference, either my first one in Nashville or one in Dallas. I was intrigued by your Snowflake Synopsis. I have three published novels and am working on my fourth. I use the Snowflake Synopsis with all of my novels. I'm mostly a pantser who begins with a general idea, setting, and characters. As I write, I add more details about my characters and setting. I keep track of names and places, dates, and other details. Some people use Scrivener, but I've heard it's not user friendly. My expanded Snowflake Synopsis is invaluable, especially with books in a series. Thank you for sharing. I couldn't write without it.
Connie Leonard
Granbury, TX

Caryl Kane said...

Hello Lena and Randy! This series sounds fascinating!

Caryl K in TEXAS

Randy Ingermanson said...

Hi Connie: I'm glad to hear my Snowflake Method is working for you! I couldn't write a novel without it.

Emma said...

"SON OF MARY by Randy Ingermanson sounds very good.PA. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.