I met Robert Liparulo through
his publisher several years ago, and God has allowed us to remain
friends. My two sons served as advanced readers for his Dreamhouse King
So, it is with great pleasure we
will explore his latest novel, The 13th Tribe, and
discover a new and exciting direction in his writing career!
The 13th Tribe
is the first title in your new series, and it is your first novel since
the Dreamhouse King series. Tell us a little about the
project―immortals from the time of Moses, armed with modern-day weapons
and technology . . . quite a combination!
Some time ago, I started
thinking about vigilantism, frontier justice. I think most of us would
do something to stop, for example, a child abuser, even if we have to
go outside the law to do it (assuming all other recourses have failed).
But what are the ramifications to society? To our souls? It’s a scary
door to open. The best way to examine a topic is to exaggerate it, or
see how it functions under extreme circumstances. I wanted to look at
vigilantism that way: how far could you take it, what do you become if
you practice it over a long period of time?
You can’t think too deeply about
taking the law into your own hands without eventually thinking about
the nature of forgiveness and grace. So now there’s God, filing off the
edges of my story, shaping it into something bigger than it was before.
The 13th Tribe
can be summed up in two words: immortal vigilantes. But really, it goes
much deeper. It explores our struggle to grasp God’s holiness; our
stubborn belief in “earning” God’s favor, though we know better; and
how our good intentions are twisted when we insist on abiding by our
limited logic instead of God’s righteous wisdom. All of this in a story
filled with action, cutting-edge technology, and complex characters—the
kind of story I like reading.
went into the formation of this story?
I traveled to many of the
locations, read books, and talked to experts about immortality,
biology, theology, weapons (like flame throwers), high-tech military
inventions (such as invisibility suits), relics, archaeology . . . I
filled three six-inch binders with notes, maps, and photographs. I used
to be an investigative journalist, so I tend to research a lot. I try
to find little gems that either stun readers or make everything in a
scene feel just right.
The only way to make such a wild
concept as immortality palatable and entertaining is to make everything
else in the story as factual and real as possible. All the locations
are real and, I hope, detailed enough for readers to get a true feel
for each place. And one way the immortals are traced through history is
through art—such as the Spinario or Boy
with Thorn and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s Apotheosis
of Homer. I researched biblical events, such as what happened
at the golden calf incident, and I studied extra-biblical stories, such
as the apostle John being tortured in a vat of boiling oil. Many of the
historic events described—a Civil War massacre, Rasputin’s death—
Many times science eventually
“catches up” with God’s miracles and we can explain them in human
terms—which doesn’t make them any less miraculous, but shows that God
often uses the incredible things He created to facilitate His will. So
I explain how every cell in the human body has telomerase (immortal)
genes, which allow cells to replicate forever, resulting in
agelessness. But they are “switched on” in only a few cells. I posit
that God activated all the telomerase genes in the immortals, so
there’s both a biological and a supernatural reason for their
character is an archaeologist, a far cry from the life of a writer!
Have you ever been on a dig?
I did visit a dig. At one point
in the story, Jagger, the protagonist, compares his previous job as a
special agent for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division with that
of an archaeologist: “The more he learned about archaeology, the more
amazed he was by how similar the two disciplines were. The best
investigators never made assumptions, always pursued the smallest
detail, and found connections that baffled others but in reality were
based on a knowledge of human behavior—descriptors that equally applied
to successful archaeologists.” Writers do those things, as well. But,
honestly, I don’t think I’d make a good archaeologist. I’m way too
What is your
favorite or most personal scene of this novel?
The scene involves Jagger trying
to protect his son. It’s an emotional scene, and I’m very emotional
about the well-being of my own children. I empathized with Jagger’s
fear and sympathized with his torment. It’s a harrowing scene. I hope
readers think so, too.
How is The
13th Tribe different from your other novels? What do you hope
readers will take away from this particular story?
As each of my previous novels
came out, people would ask, “What’s Christian about it?” And while my
answer—“I am”—should have put the matter to bed, the challengers’ point
was clear: My previous adult thrillers were heavy on action, adventure,
and the fight between good and evil, but light on acknowledging God’s
influence in the world and in the lives of my characters. Before
embarking on each new story, I’d spend weeks fasting and in seclusion,
praying for Divine guidance. Then I wrote the stories I believe God
wanted me to tell in the way He wanted me to tell them.
I prayed about the next adult
thriller after Deadlock, I sensed God telling me it
was time to go in another direction, to take a new, bold stance in
proclaiming His sovereignty in everything that happens, to rip down the
veil and show His inextricable presence in all we
experience—unreservedly and unapologetically.
The result is The 13th
Tribe—a very special story that marks my first foray into
many people call Christian fiction, though I like to think of it as a
faith-filled supernatural thriller.
addition to being entertained, I hope readers will see a little of
themselves in the story and realize that too often we are still
striving to earn God’s acceptance when, as believers, we already have
it. I hope that they feel the Tribe’s deep yearning for something many
of us take for granted, God’s love. If a single reader comes to truly
appreciate what he or she has in God, it’ll be worth the year and a
half I put into writing it.
You also enjoy
movies! Do you see any of your novels becoming a full-length feature
film some day?
Producers have purchased or
optioned the film rights to all of my books except Deadlock.
The 13th Tribe is
getting some buzz in Hollywood. Hollywood moves at its own slow pace,
on its own calendar. All of the budgets are huge, which slows things
But I do think one of
my stories will make it to the screen one of these days. Which one, I
don’t know. The Dreamhouse Kings is still moving along, operating on
writers’ and producers’ hurry-up-and-wait timetable. Germ
has seen several scripts, none of which the producer liked. I’m writing
the screenplay for Deadfall for Mandalay Pictures.
Kings series was your first venture into young adult fiction. Do you
have any plans to write more for young adults?
Absolutely! I loved getting
inside the heads of my young heroes. It brought me back to my own
The next series, Hunter, tells
the story of two teens who are trying to survive in a world in which
most of mankind has been wiped out by a virus. They have to find the
cure before it mutates and kills everyone else, and before a band of
bad guys finds it. Of course, it’ll have a lot of adventure and
Each Hunter book will include a
Dreamhouse Kings short story, and then, after Hunter, I'm planning on
writing another Dreamhouse series.
What is the
greatest difference in writing for your adult and young adult
Dreamhouse Kings was successful
because I didn’t underestimate my readers, didn’t talk down to them.
Only two things would be different from my adult thrillers: The
protagonists would be younger (twelve and fifteen) and the story would
be more appealing to young readers than high-tech private armies (Deadlock)
or serial kills manipulated by an antichrist wannabe (Comes a
Horseman). That “more interesting” hook in Dreamhouse is time
project are you working on now?
I’m finishing up the sequel to The
13th Tribe. Its working title is The God Stone,
and there’s another group of immortals, but these are exponentially
more wicked than the Tribe. We get to see angels and demons at work, a
lot of action and suspense, and a unique and profound look into the
What is God
doing in your life? How has it influenced your writing?
As par for the course in God’s
dealing with me, spiritual growth and writing are intertwined. The most
fantastic thing is blending my faith into my stories. I’ve always
studied His Word, always sought deeper understanding, but now, writing
about it, I’m learning so much. To make these stories work, to make
faith integral to the plots, I have to excavate theology like I never
have before. And at every turn, I’m awed by His love for us, His
tolerance and grace. We are so unworthy, but still, there He is, arms
What would you
say to encourage those who want to pursue writing?
If God gave you the desire to
write, the burning desire to tell stories, He is faithful to quench
that desire. He will give you the words, the stamina, and the
opportunities to fulfill your goals. It may feel like you’re walking in
the desert for forty years, but He will lead you to the Promised
Land―making a living telling stories, seeing your books in people’s
hands, making it to the best-seller lists. If you don’t give up, if you
keep walking—keep writing—it’s right there, and God’s leading you to
Ford has been a resident of
Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a
Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent
the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of
Christian Fiction for more than 20 years.
A mother of two teen sons both nearing the end of high school, Kim’s
life is full and blessed. She enjoys singing, writing and spending time
with her family. She blogs at: Window
To My World