The Last Day
by Glenn Kleier
Chat with Author Glenn Kleier
Session Start: Tue Jan 11 19:53:54 2000
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<chelak> hello Glenn!
<Glenn_Kleier> Hello everyone, good to be here!
<chelak> Glad to see you made it. We'll wait until 8 to get things started.
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<Glenn_Kleier> Hello, Dances.
<chelak> Dances, Thank you for joining the bookclub@ket chat with author Glenn Kleier.
<chelak> We're waiting on a few more folks.
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<Glenn_Kleier> Hi, Rhonda, welcome.
<Rhonda> Hi Glenn, Are you ready?
<chelak> Our guest tonight is Glenn Kleier author of "The Last Day" a millennial thriller.
<chelak> Mr. Kleier is a resident of Louisville Kentucky.
<Glenn_Kleier> Pleasure to be here.
<chelak> Does anyone have a question to start?
<DancesWithCats> So are you secretly a little disappointed that "Y2K" came and went as quietly as it did?
<Glenn_Kleier> No, not at all. I never intended the book to be a prophesy and I certainly don't encourage mayhem.
<crystal> I never could figure out about the beginning. What caused the original explosion. Was it an attack? a meteor? what.
<Glenn_Kleier> A divinely targeted meteor.
<chelak> There were several things left hanging in the book that i wondered about.
<chelak> Jeza wasn't the "enhanced" clone after all, yet she had special mental powers.
<Glenn_Kleier> Correct. She was divinely ordained.
<chelak> OK... I thought so
<crystal> I read that the book was going to be a movie and that you sold the rights. What happened?
<Glenn_Kleier> Just as Jesus has special supranatural powers.
<Glenn_Kleier> NBC got cold feet, feeling that the content was too controversial for TV.
<crystal> Too controversial -- in what way? Were they worried about offending the Catholic Church?
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<Glenn_Kleier> the Catholic League of America did initiate a writing campaign to boycott the movie. But more than this, NBC feared sponsor conerns.
<Glenn_Kleier> Hi, David. Welcome
<Glenn_Kleier> Where any of you offended by any of the content of the novel?
<crystal> Did you grow up in a specific church? Did you learn about the Bible as a young person or did you do extensive research for the book?
<crystal> Not only was I not offended...I applauded the inclusive nature of the spirituality Jeza advocated!!!
<Glenn_Kleier> I was raised Catholic and had 12 years of formal parochial education. But the book required considerable research beyond what I had learned in school.
<Glenn_Kleier> Thank you, Crystal.
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<Glenn_Kleier> Hi, Kermit. Glad you could join us.
<kermit2> Present now.
<Rhonda> Glenn, I'm sorry to say that I haven't read your book. But I've read your interview on our web site and have talked with several people who have read it. I can't wait to read it.
<DancesWithCats> The book didn't offend me in any way, probably because I'm pretty much a "non-believer." In fact, I found that it really made me think about what it *would* take to make me believe!
<Rhonda> What is your personal thought about the second coming? Is it soon!
<Glenn_Kleier> Personally, I don't expect a Second Coming in our life time, if at all. But then, as I said, I'm not a prophet.
<crystal> Glenn, what gave you the idea for the novel? for a female messiah?
<chelak> I'm still waiting for the First Coming! *smiling at Rhonda*
<chelak> I liked your description of the Vatican. Did you travel there to do research?
<chelak> It was fun watching the Pope give his New Year's Eve address after just reading your version of that scene.
<Glenn_Kleier> the idea came to me in the late 80's after hearing pope John Paul 2 talk about his fears that Judgment Day might occur at the turn of the millennium. I felt it was irresponsible to monger fear, and the idea to "call the question" occurred to me. The female messiah seemed a natural, given that women have been on the brunt end of the pastoral staff for so many thousands of years.
<kermit2> What kind of feedback did you get from the Catholic community. Many people saw the book as very anti-Catholic. I am a practicing Catholic and didn't feel that way at all. I recommended it to my parish priest!
<Glenn_Kleier> I hear you, Rhonda. All my good Jewish friends are too.
<Glenn_Kleier> Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to visit Italy until after the book was published. But a I did a lot of reading, and viewed dozens of "video tours" which helped.
<Rhonda> Of course, the true millennium hasn't occurred? right? It would be the end of this year.
<Glenn_Kleier> Chelak--I was obviously off on my predictions.
<chelak> That's what the Pope discovered in the book!
<chelak> All that hype and celebration and we get to do it again next year! Perhaps we won't be so worried and can enjoy it then.
<chelak> Did you do any special preparation for millennium concerns?
<Glenn_Kleier> Believe it or not, at the time I finished the book, back in 1996, my agent also represented Mother Theresa. My agent, without my knowledge, gave my manuscript to Mother, knowing it would be controversial. To my everlasting surprise, Mother said she liked it and called it a "wake up call." Other prominent Catholic theologians, like Father Miles O'Brian Riley of San Francisco have also endorsed it.
<sunni> That's a fascinating story.
<Glenn_Kleier> Right, Rhonda, the true millennium is this coming new year--you'll find that referenced in the novel.
<crystal> Glenn, what are you working on now?
<Glenn_Kleier> Hopefully we can enjoy it then. I still don't expect a Second Coming next year.
<Glenn_Kleier> I did nothing to prepare for the millennium except stock up on a few nice bottles of champagne.
<David123> I read a lot of science fiction, Do you enjoy reading fiction or science fiction?
<Glenn_Kleier> I'm working on another suspense thriller that's a total departure from The Last Day . . .
<sunni> What is it about? When will we see it?
<kermit2> The descriptions and dialogues with the cardinals were so believable. Any St. X brothers recognize themselves. In fact, did you get reactions like Barbara Kingsolver who said people came up to her after she had received some acclaim and wanted to recognize themselves in her stories.
<Glenn_Kleier> ...it takes place on a college campus, where an event from thirty years ago comes back to best it in a big way.
<DancesWithCats> Was it especially difficult to write Jeza's lectures and parables -- to speak for God, as it were?
<Glenn_Kleier> I love science fiction, although I haven't read much since a child. I hardly read any fiction anymore. I just can't find the time
<Glenn_Kleier> I've had people relate personal stories about the book that tend to get spooky at times--coincidences, hopefully. but no character in the story is fashioned after any real person.
<Glenn_Kleier> Yes, the parables where the most challenging aspect of the novel. I wanted them to ring true, and of course, Christ is a hard act to follow.
<crystal> Has anyone actually taken the message of the book to heart and gotten rid of the trappings of organized religion?
<chelak> The artwork on the cover was very interesting.
<Glenn_Kleier> I was told at a book convention by a librarian that my novel is on the shelves at the St. X library. There was a big controversy there over including it. But there are teachers there who still remember me and they championed my cause.
<kermit2> From God to college deans, now there's an interesting leap...or maybe not that surprising
<David123> Jews are one of the religious groups in the book that accept Jeza as the Messiah. Why did you choose them to accept her?
<Glenn_Kleier> I have received many letters and emails from people who claim to be taking much of the story to heart--far more than it was ever intended--I never wanted to drive anyone away from their religion, just wanted to get them examining a few issues that have been obfuscated for too long.
<chelak> Do you think you were hard on television news media?
<chelak> You didn't show WNN in a very good light. They were ratings hungry.
<Glenn_Kleier> The artwork was the brainchild of Warner Books. I felt they nailed the sensibilities of the novel. I was very pleased.
<sunni> Was getting the book published more difficult than writing it?
<Glenn_Kleier> I chose the Jews to accept Jeza because so many Christian religions of the world have reviled Jews as "Christ Killers." I liked the irony of turning those tables.
<Glenn_Kleier> I don't think I was too hard on the news media. In this age were "soft news" is supplanting "hard news" I felt they deserved a little ribbing.
<Glenn_Kleier> All the networks are ratings hungry. That's why they hire "faces" instead of more-accomplished, hard-nosed reporters.
<kermit2> You seemed to spring on the literary scene with this first novel. What's the real story behind the novel and your writing it?
<Glenn_Kleier> Getting the book published was as much a miracle as any depicted in the novel. I couldn't have been more fortunate. I sent out copies and a query letter to six agents and got three responses. . .
<Glenn_Kleier> ...the agent I chose sold the novel to Warner a week later, and the movie rights a week after that. I was stunned. Seven years to write the book and in less than a month it was all over. So anticlimactic.
<kermit2> How did you support yourself during those 7 years?
<Glenn_Kleier> I always wanted to write novels, but went into advertising instead, thinking I'd never earn a living as a novelist (besides, advertising is pretty much fiction anyway, isn't it? . . .
<Glenn_Kleier> . . .but when this concept hit me and the millennium timeline pressed, I had the incentive to finally go ahead and try it. I wrote it for myself, never really thinking it would be marketable.
<crystal> I liked the interplay between Feldman and Hunter -- two sides of a coin. Did either of them reflect your personality?
<Glenn_Kleier> I wasn't writing full time. My wife and I owned an ad agency, and I worked there full time, writing at night and on weekends. . .
<Glenn_Kleier> . . .once I got close to the end, my wife graciously took over much of my responsibilities so I could finish it. Once she saw how expendable I was, I was told to write full time.
<kermit2> Are you planning on moving to NY or LA? Does location matter at all anymore if you want to continue to write for al living?
<DancesWithCats> Reading the book, it's very easy to kind of see the movie in your head. Did you write it that way, too, with scenes playing out in your head?
<Glenn_Kleier> Yes, the two characters Feldman and Hunter were my yin and my yang: Feldman the more spiritual, reflective guy, Hunter the secular cynic (does that say "agnostic?").
<sunni> You had such good luck with the first, that must have encouraged you to do another.
<Glenn_Kleier> I'm not planning on moving anywhere. I like Kentucky, and no, it really doesn't matter where you live. Certainly, if I, living in the hinterlands as far removed. . .
<kermit2> What books have you read lately, and who are your favorite authors?
<Glenn_Kleier> . . . figuratively and literally from the publishing world can do it, anyone can.
<Glenn_Kleier> Yes, I wrote the book as if it were a movie playing in my head. In fact, my editor at Warner says the reading market is moving in that direction.
<crystal> Did you have a teacher somewhere who encouraged your writing, told you that you had talent? Did you take creative writing in college?
<chelak> I thought the Pope was really a "bad guy" in the novel. When he realized his mistake, he only thought of himself and the jeopardy of his salvation, not of others. Was this another case of your irony?
<sunni> The ending was certainly movie-like!
<Glenn_Kleier> It did encourage me to continue writing. I'm doing it full time now and have a good half dozen ideas I've been working on from time to time. Should keep me busy through the early part of the millennium.
<Glenn_Kleier> I hate to confess that I read very few books any more. Most of my reading is current events--I read volumes. The last book I read was Roger Fouts "Next of Kin" last fall. Excellent book.
<Glenn_Kleier> Joseph Heller is one of my favorite authors. I very much mourned his passing.
<Glenn_Kleier> I had many influential teachers, and did take creative writing courses in college.
<kermit2> What does national success feel like? Do your family and friends treat you differently or react differently to you now?
<chelak> I think it takes guts to decide to write a book, then make the commitment to really do it.
<Glenn_Kleier> The pope was one of those tragic characters who could never seem to rise above the situation to understand it properly--too dependent on his advisors to stand on his own two feet.
<Glenn_Kleier> I'll take that as a complement, sunni.
* sunni smiles
<crystal> I was really delighted with Jeza, but did feel that all the women were a little too beautiful, too stunning, too smart, too sexy.
<Glenn_Kleier> I think my two sons (12 and 14) would be more impressed if I were an astronaut or played in the NBA. This is such an insular industry, I don't really see much difference in my life.
<Glenn_Kleier> Given I had put off writing for over twenty years, I don't feel too courageous. I guess it took me that long to work up the gumption.
<kermit2> Who would you cast as the major characters in the movie version?
<sunni> How important is organized religion in your family now?
<Glenn_Kleier> I agree with you, the women in the story were perhaps too Hollywood. Also stereotypical, subordinate females for the most part. . .
<Glenn_Kleier> . . . however, if you'll recall, in the end, after Jeza's last speech, they "got the message" and underwent a change, becoming assertive and empowered.
<crystal> Yes but they were still beautiful, sexy and smart!!!
* sunni wishes it were that easy....
<Glenn_Kleier> I'm not sure who I would have cast in the movie. Some people have suggested Keano Reeve, David Ducovny or Noah Wylie for Feldman. Columbia TriStar. . .
<Glenn_Kleier> . . . was talking to Winona Ryder for the role of Jeza at one time when the movie was still a consideration. I would have loved to see F. Murray Abraham as DiConcerci.
<DancesWithCats> What's your writing process like? Do you revise and rewrite a lot?
<Glenn_Kleier> Organized religion is not really an important part of my nuclear family. I'm raising my boys to respect all religions and all peoples and to do as Jeza commanded, study it all and come to your own conclusions.
<Glenn_Kleier> Sorry the women were all beautiful, sexy and smart, but that's how I view all women.
<Glenn_Kleier> I get up at dawn, exercise and write until I pick my boys up from school. I have a schedule of what I want to accomplish each day and I pretty much follow it, but I do a great deal of rewriting.
<Glenn_Kleier> I don't write from an outline, but I have a fairly tight synopsis working in my head. . .
<Glenn_Kleier> I move around a lot, writing out of sequence. For example, I wrote the final chapters to the next book a few weeks back, just to make sure I could work it all out, and to give my in-between chapters tighter direction
<crystal> do you know any other contemporary Kentucky writers? Do you ever give seminars, etc?
<Glenn_Kleier> I've know many other contemporary Kentucky writers, including Wendell Barry and Diane Aprile, who are wonderful people. I give talks periodically (including next month at the Kentucky Business Woman's meeting at the Seelbach, and the Southern Books convention in Bowling Green. I also travel a bit and do a number of radio shows.
<Glenn_Kleier> Make that the month after next on those appearances, they're in March.
<DancesWithCats> Did you get the chance to see the TV discussion of the book?
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<Glenn_Kleier> I did. I have to say, I agreed with much of their criticisms.
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<crystal> Glenn, Thanks so much for being on-line; I loved the message of the book and the creativity of the story...this was fun
<Glenn_Kleier> As a first time novelist, I feel I have lots of room to grow.
<Glenn_Kleier> Thanks to all of you for allowing me to visit, it was a delight. . .
<David123> good bye all
<DancesWithCats> Well, it was an incredibly ambitious topic for a first time out! Thanks for the chat.
<chelak> As a first time novelist, you were very successful. It is also nice to be able to grow and learn.
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<Glenn_Kleier> my special thanks to you, Chela, Rhonda and the good people at KET Bookclub for all the kind hospitality.
<chelak> Thank you so much for taking time to be with us.
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<chelak> We really enjoyed chatting with you.
<Glenn_Kleier> Thanks, Chela, it was a pleasure!
<Glenn_Kleier> Good evening to you!
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Session Close: Tue Jan 11 21:11:57 2000