Best-Selling Novels, US Threats, & Bible Prophecy

In this episode of Inside The Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg, Dr. Carl Moeller chats with Joel about his latest novel, which is part of the Marcus Ryker series and features a plot about terrorists planning a nuclear attack and attempting to cross the US-Mexico border.

Throughout the discussion, Joel provides insights on how his faith influences what he does, his writing process, the need to protect the US southern border, and how he weaves Biblical prophecies into his thrillers. 

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- We have many friends and supporters of The Joshua Fund and listeners to the podcast who are very worried that drug traffickers, human traffickers, organized crime syndicates, and terrorists are penetrating into the United States. And how bad could it get? Well, let's pray it never gets as bad as the scenario in "The Libyan Diversion."

- What would happen if an open southern US border allowed for the free flow of terrorism into the United States? And how does that relate to the Middle East in the epicenter? Hi, and welcome to this episode of "Inside The Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg," a podcast of The Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Moeller, Executive Director of The Joshua Fund, and today we're talking with Joel Rosenberg in Jerusalem about his brand-new novel and to answer that very question. Joel, it's great to see you again. It's great to be with you. Joel, your new novel, "The Libyan Diversion," of course, has a Middle Eastern title and Middle Eastern theme, but it doesn't just deal with what's going on in the Middle East, does it? It actually takes a global view of what's happening.

- It does. Great to see you, Carl. And I'm so glad that you're there at National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Orlando. I'm a little jealous. I would have loved to have been there myself, but it's great to see you and The Joshua Fund team and the podcasting team, the "Inside The Epicenter" team on the ground there talking to people, and I'm glad to be able to talk to you. Yeah, the new novel is a continuation of the Markus Ryker series, a former Secret Service agent, a former Marine who now is working for the Central Intelligence Agency. He's hunting down the worst, most dangerous terrorist in the world. A man whose nom de guerre or his war name, his moniker is Abu Nakba, which in Arabic means the father of catastrophe, right? Palestinians and many other Arabs around the world consider the day that Israel was reborn on May 14th, 1948 Nakba Day, meaning a catastrophic day in the annals of Palestinian and Arab history. So this main character, Abu Nakba, has been a character throughout a number of these novels. And he has a Libyan father, thus the title, "The Libyan Diversion," but he has a Palestinian mother from Gaza and thus he really identifies with the more radicalized Palestinian cause. Why is this connected to the United States? In this novel, it does feel very much like it's ripped from the headlines, all the interviews that I've been doing with Shannon Bream from Fox, "News Sunday" with CBN, with so many other, you know, dozens and dozens of interviews all across the United States is because "The Libyan Diversion" is about Abu Nakba trying to divert or trick our main character, Markus Ryker, discredit him, get the President of the United States and the American people not to listen to the advice of Markus Ryker while simultaneously Abu Nakba is trying to send terrorists, radical Middle Eastern jihadist terrorists infiltrating into the United States through that very porous, unsecured US-Mexican border, why? Not just to pull off some attack equivalent to 9/11. No, no. These guys are trying to bring in dirty nuclear bombs-

- Wow.

- Into the United States. Try to bring off a nuclear 9/11, something far deadlier, far more catastrophic than 9/11 ever was, as bad as it was. That's the premise, and that's sort of connects my two worlds, right? I'm a dual US-Israeli citizen. I live here. This is where the center of my life is. But I was born and raised in the States, as we've talked about on the podcast, and I love that. I love the United States, and I'm very worried. I will tell you right now, Carl, I'm more worried about US national security at the moment than Israeli national security, and Israel just had 1,400 rockets and missiles fired at us just last week so that's saying something. But you live on the border in San Diego, and we have many friends and supporters of The Joshua Fund and listeners to the podcast who are, you know, all along that 2,000-mile border. And they, like many Americans, are very worried that drug traffickers, human traffickers, organized crime syndicates, and terrorists are penetrating into the United States, and how bad could it get? Well, let's pray it never gets as bad as the scenario in "The Libyan Diversion."

- Well, you've said this so many times, you know, and I'm sure, you know, I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it came the day it was released to my house, and I'm super excited to get my hands around it 'cause I'm traveling here with a small suitcase. Couldn't take this book. It's a great summer read. Joel's books have always, your books have always given me, you know, ample sunburn as I've not been able to get in from the outside while I'm reading those books. But, you know, this book really takes-

- Make sure to take some extra SPF 50 or something when you read.

- SPF 50 while you read one of Joel's. We should send that with a copy of every book. That would be awesome. But I really believe that when, you know, you live in Jerusalem now, and you have a US, you know, citizenship as well. This dual citizenship has always given this international flavor to your books. This isn't just a book about the Middle East or something taking place in the Middle East. This is something that's a global catastrophe, potentially. And I think that's a very interesting part of this unique book. Tell me a little bit more, if you will, about, you know, where you came to understand this kind of problem and maybe even some of the specific things that you've seen in the Middle East that lead you to maybe the possibility of this book's premise.

- Yeah, well, look, for my entire career as a novelist, I've been writing often about the intersection between the threats that we face in Israel, I mean, long before I became an Israeli citizen. And actually long before I started with Lynn The Joshua Fund, I cared about Israel and I cared about the people of the broader Middle East even though I wasn't a citizen here and I didn't live here. I came to travel here. But the threats that we face here in the epicenter, I never believed were gonna be limited to the epicenter. You know, one of the reasons I wrote "The Last Jihad," my first novel, you know, it feels like a million years ago, but I began writing it in January of 2001, was because I was afraid that the very type of radical Islamist terror strategy that had been used by suicide bombers, for example, to infiltrate into Israel, come across our borders and blow themselves up in Israeli restaurants and cafes, on school buses, in nightclubs, in hotels, that same mindset, kill myself in order to kill many, many others in order for me to go to heaven and them to go to hell, that is a demonic mindset. And while it was something that was affecting Israel for, you know, from its foundation, I really was worried that it was coming to the United States. That if the United States didn't get even more serious about defeating radical Islamism in the Middle East as a strong ally of Israel, but also to protect our Arab allies, it was coming home to America. And I was living in Washington D.C. so I wrote this novel, yes, as entertainment. Yes, to create a new career path for me, but also as a warning that the bad guys were coming and this is how they might be coming, right? "The Last Jihad" starts with, the first page puts you inside the cockpit of a jet plane that's been hijacked by radical Islamist terrorists, and it's coming in on a kamikaze attack mission into an American city. Now, I wrote that, at the beginning of it, almost nine months before September 11th, 2001. And I was finishing the book, the last few chapters on the morning of 9/11 in Washington, D.C. So it wasn't that I was predicting it, Carl. You and I have talked about this in the past. I wasn't being, I didn't think of myself as being prophetic or, you know, psychic or I later got called by "U.S. News & World Report," "a modern Nostradamus." I'm not. As you know, I don't always know my own future, much less anybody else's. But the question was, is there a logical extension? If you extrapolate forward what the radical Islamists wanna do to Israel, and they consider Israel the Little Satan in their eschatology, what's their main target? It's the United States whom they consider the Great Satan. So it didn't seem like rocket science to me. I didn't think I needed a Harvard PhD to extrapolate forward that at some point, radical Islamist suicide bombers were coming to the United States. The question was, how could they do something so spectacular that they would put themselves on the map forever? I thought of it as hijacking a plane. Unfortunately, that was terrifyingly close to what really happened.

- Yeah, well, you've always said, and I agree, you know, you just brought it out that you don't do anything more than take seriously what evil people say and then connect the dots. I mean, and you do it through a biblical lens, no question. You know, this isn't just some, you know, pulled out of the air. Your framework has always been informed by both the Bible and the current events and statements of the most evil people on the planet. I think you share that conviction with great leaders like Winston Churchill who said, you know, "We have to take what Hitler's doing seriously, you know, or we're gonna see cataclysm." And, you know, unfortunately, the British people during World War II never did until it was already too late. And unfortunately, you know, God, I think-

- Almost too late, for the record.

- Almost too late, yeah.

- I mean, it was pretty close.

- I think God intervened just before-

- And had the United States not gotten into that war-

- Right, exactly.

- Right.

- And my point is-

- If the US had not entered...

- Yeah.

- London would have been lost.

- Yeah, and so many of these, you know, these things are simply there for, you know, observation. But you do such a great job of bringing those into highlight. But, you know, I know just before we take a break here, I know that you had a very unique way to get into this story. I mean, most people wouldn't consider a book with the title, "The Libyan Diversion" to involve a great deal of the US southern border, and I'm really curious-

- Right, I guess I shoulda called it Mexican madness or something, right?

- No, I think obviously, you know, people wanna connect... You really do connect the dots there. And maybe when we come back after this quick break, you can talk a little bit about how you got the dots to connect from a good friend of yours. And then we wanna talk larger about your books. I mean, yeah, you've done some amazing things in literature, and we wanna actually come back and explore what it really means to be writing books from this kind of perspective so we'll be back in just a second. Our verse of the day today is found in the Book of Psalms 127:1. "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." Our prayer requests today are, number one, pray for the United States that God continues to watch over this nation and deliver its people from harm from internal enemies. And second, pray that God continues to turn the counsel of our enemies to foolishness and also frustrate the plans of those trying to exploit the weakness in our southern borders for evil purposes. Well, Joel, we're back, and I'm just really interested, there's a really interesting story about how you got the dots to connect between Libya and the Middle East and the US southern border. And maybe you could tell a little bit about how you got the idea for this novel in particular.

- Well, Carl, you know, I'm always scanning the horizon, trying to find new ideas, new threats, new things to write about. And you know, I really hadn't expected to find it at a Joshua Fund event, but you and I were planning the first ever Epicenter Briefing. It happened to be in Washington D.C. at the Museum of the Bible for major donors to The Joshua Fund and prospective donors and other allies. And what a great event, by the way. That was such an exciting weekend. It happened to be the weekend of the September 11th anniversary, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and so we had Joshua Fund staff, Joshua Fund board members, and we were talking about what's really happening in Israel and the Arab Muslim world, and what's the Joshua Fund doing to strengthen the Church, care for the poor, educate the Church, and of course, strengthen the local pastors and advance the kingdom, advance the Gospel, and it was great. But you and I had talked about, well, is there somebody who could give us a really unique perspective that could be our keynote that weekend? And we kicked around a number of names, as you'll recall, and we settled on Mike Pompeo. Mike was a congressman when I first met him. He was a reader of my novels and had become a fan and had invited me up for coffee to Capitol Hill. But who knew that he was gonna become the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and later the 70th Secretary of State so that turned out to be great. If I'd been a psychic or clairvoyant or a modern Nostradamus, okay, I woulda known that.

- You woulda known that.

- But I didn't see that coming, and he didn't either. So we agreed that we should ask Pompeo. I called him, I asked him. He was very gracious. He said yes, and so that was a great evening. And I was also releasing my nonfiction book, "Enemies and Allies," on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And we, you know, I interviewed Pompeo that evening about Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah but also about Russia and China and North Korea, all the major big threats, right? And how they affected the United States and how they affected Israel. So, late in the discussion, as I recall it, I asked him a question I hadn't planned to ask him. But I said, "You know, is there something I haven't asked you, what keeps you up at night that maybe we haven't talked about but that you're worried about as a threat to US national security?" And he gave an answer that really caught me off guard. I think many in the room were surprised. He said, "Yeah, Joel, I'm worried about ungoverned spaces in Northern Mexico." I'm like, "Okay, could you elaborate?"

- I remember that, yes.

- And he said, "Well, basically the..." I'm paraphrasing, but basically the Mexican government has effectively surrendered large swaths of the northern border along the US border to drug cartels, to human traffickers, to organized crime syndicates and other bad actors, and it's creating a real problem he was describing. And I'm not trying to be political. I'm just relating what he said. He said, "This is why as CIA Director, Secretary of State working with Vice President Pence and President Trump, we were working so hard to build a wall and do other things to slow down that illegal surge and protect our national sovereignty and security and economy and so forth." So that just, I hadn't expected that answer. So in the days and weeks that followed, I really was thinking about just how dangerous that was and how President Biden had taken a very, very different, very different, 180 degrees different approach to the border than had his predecessor. So I began thinking, "What if terrorists just try to sneak through or walk across the border? Like, that's bad, right? I mean, am I wrong?" I don't have a-

- That would not be good.

- A PhD in this, but that seems bad. So in my own simplistic way, I basically thought, "Well, what if?" And that what if scenario, what if not only terrorists came in, but what if they tried to plan something worse than 9/11? You know, like a nuclear 9/11, how might that play out? How might my hero, Markus Ryker, try to stop them? How might they try to stop him? And how would it play out? And that became the premise, but it was interesting. Again, I don't think that's ever happened before that we've been at a Joshua Fund event and the kernel of a, the seed of an idea for a whole new novel has come. Usually my novels have nothing to do with Joshua Fund events unless there are, you know, gifts for donors or something like that, which is lovely. But I didn't see that happening. And so much I actually, one last thing, I forgot to say this to Pompeo. I just kind of got into my writing groove, and then I had Pompeo for two weeks, two shows on "The Rosenberg Report" on TBN a couple months ago. And I realized, "Oh, I've never told him that he's the inspiration for this new novel." So I did tell him, and he tweeted out this past weekend his endorsement of the book. He was actually here in Israel also recently, and I gave him an advanced copy. So yeah, you never know where your sources are gonna come from, but coming from a former CIA director, that was a pretty solid source.

- It's huge. It's wonderful. Now, you've had such great access to some other people in, you know, certainly people who've endorsed your books, people who've read your books, you know, people, you've mentioned Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo. Where else did you get some of the, you know, some of the background material 'cause, you know, just, you know, a film major from Syracuse University doesn't come up with all of this stuff off their own so how do you fill in that information?

- Yeah. Well, it's research. I mean, one level of research is just Google. I don't know how authors did this before Google and Yahoo and all the other search engines, right? You know, but now I can actually use Google Earth to go look at an actual hacienda, and I can measure how far that is to the Mexican border. And I can see, well, where would be the best place to dig a tunnel under the Rio Grande? And, you know, and I can, all those... You'd have to go to the library and do a lot of research in the old days, but now it's at the, you know, in an instant, but-

- It's on your laptop. Wow.

- But, you know, the other element of this for me is, as an Israeli, you know, where two of our sons have served in the army here, as you know, and, you know, and you've got a son that's serving as well. Not the Israeli army, but the US military. But Israel has figured out how one of the ways that you stop terrorists and drug runners and human traffickers, with walls. We built security walls. Sometimes they are just high-tech fences, but in most places they're 18-foot-high cement walls with all kinds of extra cameras and electronic sensors. But the idea is, before 2002, we had what was called the Second Intifada in which there was a big Palestinian violent uprising. And suicide bombers were just walking into Israel from the West Bank, from Gaza, and just walking into a cafe and blowing themselves to smithereens and killing or maiming everyone around them and on the buses and all the things I mentioned before. That was so bad it launched, it triggered a whole war. But in the end, then Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon decided, look, there's literally no way to know if a person walking in from the West Bank or Gaza is coming for a job or to kill people. And we don't have enough people to guard every spot so we're gonna have to build walls. And so that began a massive and expensive building program to separate what was then called Israel proper from the West Bank, what we in Israel call Judea and Samaria, but the world generally calls the West Bank, what the Palestinians call the Palestinian Authority. The question was, how do you separate the two peoples? Yes, there's walls. I mean, yeah, I'm sorry. Yes, there's doors, there are entry points where you can apply and come in for a job or for tourism with the right credentials, and you have to go through security like you're getting on a plane. Then Sharon in 2005 decided to pull all Israeli troops and soldiers and settlers out of the Gaza Strip.

- [Carl] Mm-hmm.

- And so then he built another wall between the Gaza Strip and Israel so now you had two walls. Now admittedly, the one with the West Bank didn't get completely finished, and that's a separate issue for a separate time. But the point is, the walls were there in the main population centers, and the number of terrorist attacks dropped by 92%.

- [Carl] Wow, yeah.

- So this tells us that it works. Now, of course, over time, if there are holes or terror or vandalism or you just don't finish it, then you can have other problems. But I know this sounds political because President Trump and Vice President Pence and Mr. Pompeo and all made building the walls so central to what they were doing, but they built 450 miles, but there's a 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico so 450 was good, but it was barely even 25% of what had to get done. But President Biden has decided not to do that. And I think there's a lesson, actually, and I think it should be a bipartisan lesson. I mean, I don't know that any Republican or any Democrat or any independent wants to see terrorists coming into the United States or human traffickers or human slave runners or drug runners and so it seems like in theory, this should be a bipartisan effort. And that Biden can learn from Bibi, you know? That the United States can learn from the lessons of Israel. Not that we did it perfectly, but we really did, by God's grace and a lot of hard work and money, stop. We want people to visit. We want people to come on The Joshua Fund tour, you know, later this year. There's no, it's not as though you can't come to Israel. It's just that you can't walk in. You can't just walk in.

- Yeah, right.

- You have to come in in a process, and that's legal and it's healthy and it's safe. And otherwise, you know, it's not like we just wanted to have a wall. From 1948 and 1967, we didn't have any walls. We didn't want a wall.

- Right.

- Nobody wanted a wall.

- Sure.

- But once people started coming in to blow us to smithereens, there was no choice, and it worked.

- Yeah, yeah.

- So I think that's not... It shouldn't be a controversial point, but unfortunately it is. But I think that's a great lesson that an Israeli can offer my American friends.

- That's an incredibly good insight. And you know, your novels also point out a number of the other issues that have been threatening, you know, the global stability, but particularly in the Middle East, you know, Israel and all of those things. And maybe just before we, you know, look at some other aspects of your books, talk a little bit about how in this book, it also points the concerns that you see between the growing alliance between Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and some of these other bad players in the Middle East.

- Yeah, well, as I talked about in the nonfiction book, "Enemies and Allies," this is a dark alliance that's emerging. And in all of my Markus Ryker books, "The Libyan Diversion" is now the fifth of them, I've been sort of illustrating what I'm warning about in nonfiction or on "All Israel News" or "All Arab News" or whatever or "The Rosenberg Report." So that's a real alliance that's really forming, and it's really dangerous and dark. But you can say that to a person but the question is, do they hear you, do they absorb it? Do they feel how dangerous that could be when a country, for example, like Turkey is going to the dark side, right? And they're a NATO ally. Why are they building alliances with Russia and Iran? Why are they buying weapons from Russia? Why are they? I mean, are they a NATO ally? Are they an American ally or aren't they? They're supposedly a friend of Israel, and yet they're in, the Turkish government has increasingly gotten in bed with some very dangerous and bad actors. So this novel, you know, I won't go into the details, but yes, I'm continuing to try to illustrate through the story and through the characters, something that I don't think most people have paid much attention to or realize that there's even a biblical significance to those three countries forming an alliance. They're the three biggest players, among the three biggest players in the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecies known as the War of Gog and Magog. The new novel, "The Libyan Diversion" doesn't get into the War of Gog and Magog. It sort of separates that thinking. If you know that prophecy, then you're like, wow, this could be, you know, the chess pieces on the board sort of being aligned. If you don't know it, then at least you're learning about the geopolitical threat, even if you don't connect it to Bible prophecy.

- Yeah, well, Joel, I have to say, you know, for most of our listeners who regularly listen to this podcast, you know, we touch on these issues from time to time, and one of the really amazing aspects for me, and it's been part of my education on this, is just how many dots there are to connect. And when you start doing that, they do create a tapestry and a pattern that's amazing. But I wanna step back for a second. You know, you've written-

- Yeah, you could use another analogy and there's the dots, but there's also the, you know, the 5,000-piece puzzle. You just spill it out on the table. But what if you didn't have the box cover?

- [Carl] Right, right.

- Like, and you're just thinking, what is? There's something here, but I don't know what it is. Maybe I can start doing the edges and then filling in sections, and that's kind of how you do it, and I'm trying to do both. I'm trying to give people a big picture through this podcast and everything, but in the novels, it's almost like building the different puzzle pieces so you sort of see it coming together and you're not quite sure where it's leading and a little bit more mysterious and emotional.

- Well, that's a really good way to analogize this, too. You know, the puzzle pieces, if you see them scattered on a table without a picture to build against, you can see that there are some things that connect and that they have a certain perspective, but you would have no idea where it was all going. The beautiful thing about having the Scripture is that it tells us, this is what all of these pieces are building towards.

- Right.

- And that's very, very cool.

- Amen.

- But you've sold, let me say this to everybody listening. I'm talking to somebody who has sold 5 million-plus novels and books. Joel, that is by anybody's definition, including "The New York Times," a bestselling author. And you've always woven a certain element that isn't always found in some of the bestselling books. But you've had Christian characters in your books living out their lives, sometimes very crazy, risky, thrilling situations as Christians. How do you approach that question and, you know, sort of the bigger question, how does a Christian live for Christ when working in some of these real-life situations, maybe even sensitive situations?

- Yeah, good questions. I'll try to give you very brief answers 'cause those could be whole podcasts unto themselves, I'm guessing. Look, it's a challenge to write a "New York Times" bestselling political thriller that's up against, competing with all the best-selling political thrillers of the age, right? I mean, there are some great, great novelists out there, Brad Thor and Don Bentley and Vince, well, Vince Flynn has passed away. But Kyle Mills, others have taken on his series. Daniel Silva, there's Mark Greaney. I mean, I could go on, but these guys are really good, and some of 'em are selling much more than me. And my challenge is, how do I tell the story that I want to tell, but how do I do it when I have other constraints on me than everybody else, which is, I just am not comfortable before the Lord of writing a novel with profane, you know, filled with profanity. Tom Clancy in his day, I loved his novels, except it was pretty, there was a lot of really harsh, hard language that I was not comfortable with. And it got worse over time because as Clancy got more successful, nobody really wanted to edit him.

- Yeah.

- Too much economic power. And people just thought, "Let's just copy edit it, make sure it's spelled correctly, and then publish it." Like, whatever.

- Yeah.

- And then there was a lot of graphic sexuality in a lot of these novels that I'm not gonna do in my novels. So, and then my main character, Markus Ryker, okay, he's a CIA operative, he's a former Marine, he's a former Secret Service agent. The man knows how to kill people if he has to, but he's not an assassin, okay?

- Right.

- He's not Jason Bourne. He's not James Bond with a 007 license to kill.

- License to kill.

- You know, he's not Vince Flynn's iconic character, Mitch Rapp. He can kill, but Markus's character is, by training and by personality, is that he's a protector. His desire is to protect his country, its leaders, its values, its freedoms not specifically to hunt people, except for in this case, Abu Nakba because, you know, the best defense is a good offense, right? And so there was a point at which you gotta go after this guy and take this player off the board, right?

- Yeah.

- But that is another challenge that I have because, yeah, Markus is a believer, but he's, you know, he's the Secret Service agent. He's a CIA operative. He's not a big talker. He's not preaching the Gospel, right? He's not Billy Graham-

- Right.

- Or, you know, so how do I work that in that you see him living his faith and then when he talks about it, he does it the way that character would, not just fill his mouth with a bunch of, you know, Gospel sayings or those Bible verses. And then the other thing is, he's not someone who's morally comfortable with torture, which is an element that comes up in "The Libyan Diversion." The CIA I won't say much, but the CIA director is basically chastising Markus in a National Security Council briefing right before the President, in front of the President because Markus isn't being tough enough on the prisoners at Gitmo. And Markus is not comfortable with doing this, you know, one issue is the law, but the other issue is, he is a believer. He has a moral code that not every other character in the other books have. All that I could say, oh, I could be frustrated by that. I could be like, wow, I wish. But I don't wish I could fill this book up with graphic sexuality or profanity or whatever. So I have to use those constraints as complicators to the actual character, make his life harder because sure, if he just would, you know, torture a detainee, maybe he'd get the information, but maybe he wouldn't. Maybe the detainee would just tell him whatever it took to stop the torture and none of it would be true. So anyway, those are other elements that I have to work with. And it's not what every thriller writer or thriller reader is expecting or even wants. So those are some headwinds I have to face.

- I think it's a tremendous positive aspect for your books. And I've had so many, you know, we at The Joshua Fund, we get a lot of the mail and interest in your books and asking questions, and people make comments about just how exciting it is to read these books. At the same time, they know they're not gonna turn a page and all of a sudden go, "Oh, I'm reading something that I really, you know, I don't want to expose myself to or however," you know.

- Except violence. The books are very violent, let's be honest.

- Well, they can be, sure. You know, but you know this, we have so many women who love to read your books. I just want people to know that it's perfectly fine for a woman, a mom, a wife, you know, to read a copy of "The Libyan Diversion" on the beach this summer and it would be great.

- I think more of my readers are women than men.

- Yes.

- If I judge by all the 20 years of book tours, there are a lot more women coming, and I know that's not 'cause of me, right? Having a face for radio. So it's not like I'm some matinee idol or something. So no, they're often saying, "I'm buying it for my father, for my..." But they love it themselves. And so, you know, my wife is a check on that because she's a, you know, like we have a joke. I've never said this actually publicly, but I'll say it to you, Carl. From the first novel, maybe the second, I had a scene. Maybe the second novel, I had a scene where a sniper takes out somebody, and I described it as, "His head exploded like a pumpkin." And Lynn was just repulsed by that image. I said, "Well, that's kinda what happens." She goes, "Yeah, but you don't have to say that, exploded like a pumpkin." I said, "Well, have you ever seen a pumpkin?" "Yeah, I think I, yeah, yeah." Anyway, so I put that in every manuscript for the last, I don't know, 20 years.

- Oh, its an Easter egg.

- And she always finds it. It's like a hidden Mickey or I don't know. It's like this hidden thing that she always has to hunt. Where's the exploding pumpkin head?

- Where's the pumpkin?

- And she always yanks it. So anyway, that was-

- Joel, that's beautiful.

- We're always, we try to make it so it's still digestible-

- That's beautiful.

- Even with the violence.

- Well, and that's the thing I was gonna come back to because all the guys that I know that read your books, and in my case certainly I'm just as wrapped up in the book. I mean, who really, at the end of the day, if you're looking for a thriller, you know, wants to, you know, have some gratuitous sex scene or something like that when the motivations and the excitement comes from, you know, the character's conviction about, you know, what needs to happen and the action that's taken. I mean, that's why you read a thriller. I mean, I don't know about other novel seekers in other novel genres, but that's what's fun reading your books.

- Right, I'm not writing Harlequin romances or some-

- Right, exactly.

- But it's also interesting dealing with the faith element 'cause that's another element that is not found in all the major thrillers. So how do I, as a follower of Jesus from a Jewish background, weave in faith, but still hold the person who totally disagrees with me or actually is opposed to that? And I'll just give you one example. I know we gotta wrap soon, but King Abdullah of Jordan. Why has he read at least three of my thrillers when he's a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam? Like, how have I held his attention if my theology is very different from his theology? And that is, that's my job. My job is to, first is to capture your attention with the cover. You know, people say, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Everybody judges a book by its cover. I don't know a single person who doesn't think, "Wow, that's pretty cool, I might..." And then I have to grab you by the first sentence, the first page, the first paragraph, the first chapter. And then I have to hold you all the way because you don't wanna read my book. You wanna watch Netflix. You wanna go swimming. You wanna play ball with the kids. You wanna do anything else than sit and... I mean, not you personally, but I'm just saying most people, this is not their first love is to spend time with a 450-page novel, right? It's a crazy job, right, Carl? The idea is, my job is to get you to spend $28 and three or four days of your life reading something that's completely not true. And that's, what kind of job is that? Like, you know, when you sit there with an empty screen on a cursor that's blinking and it's just daring you to fill up this thing with 100,000 words that people will pay $28. Now, I'm Jewish, I wouldn't pay retail so I'm not gonna pay $28, but, you know, I'm grateful for all the gentiles that buy my book, but that cursor is just blinking. And I think that's why the word curse is right in there because it's just, you know, telling you, "You can't do this, Joel, you can't do it." So it's not a normal job and it's not a normal way to think. But I'm incredibly grateful that people have loved them. And even if they've hated them, they still buy them and read them. And I love that The Joshua Fund and many ministries have thought, well, these are actually interesting gifts to give to people at, you know, if I speak and whatever, as a way of saying, you know, if you wanna understand the world that we're operating in, these are usually ministries that deal with the Middle East or other ministries, Russia or whatever, you know, it's a different way that's not a normal way, but it's a creative way to capture people's attention and their imagination, and I enjoy it.

- Yeah, well, we enjoy it. That's the wonderful thing in talking to you about these things. And you may enjoy the writing or you may, you know, enjoy the outcome of having a book and the satisfaction of seeing a story completed and all of that. But it's those of us who get the benefit of sitting at the beach or poolside or, you know, around a fire and with our feet up and a nice steaming cup of coffee, get a chance to read a real book with real characters and have really exciting times. I have to, though, say, one of the big problems about picking up a Joel novel is you're gonna lose a few days' sleep. I just want you to know that it's one of those things that if you sit, you know, and pick it up anytime, you know, after eight o'clock, you're gonna be up for a few hours so please be warned in advance.

- That's why it's summer reading. No, if you're just, yeah, if you're just at the beach and the kids are all playing and then you're just sort of like, all right, I got a few minutes here. Let's bang out a few chapters.

- Absolutely, absolutely. Joel, is this book available on audio or is it available on, you know, Kindle?

- Yes, all formats.

- Do I even say that?

- Yeah, it's released in hardcover, but it's also in ebook. So yeah, the Amazon version of that is Kindle, the Barnes and Noble version is the Nook, and there are others, absolutely. And some people are really enjoying it that way. And those are actually cheaper than the hardcover, right? I think that's like 16, 17 bucks versus 28. And then the audio version, you know, just get it on your phone. A lot of guys, not only, but a lot of guys I meet say, "I don't have time to read your books or others that I love, but I download it on my phone and when I'm driving to work or I'm on the bus or I'm just telling my wife, 'Yes, I will go pick up milk, no problem.' 10 minutes there, 10 minutes back, put your earbuds in or going for a run or a workout." It's a great way to get through a book that you think, "I would love that, but I just have absolutely no time in my schedule." I get through a lot of books that way, and I actually love the audio format. I use Audible, which an Amazon product, but there are others as well.

- Who narrates the books, Joel? Do you?

- Well, there's a great guy on the most recent ones named George Guidall, and he's fantastic. And I've never met him, but I first heard him when I was listening to thrillers by other friends of mine that are really great bestselling thriller writers, and I thought, "Wow, I like that guy. I wonder if he's available." And he read the book and loved it, one of the Markus Ryker books and so I just think he's done-

- Wow.

- I don't know, three or four of 'em so far and yeah, he's fantastic.

- Wow. Well, you know, to all of our listeners, we're gonna wrap up now, but you know, Joel, I just wanna say to all our listeners, you can join the likes of, you know, world leaders and others that have really benefited from listening to Joel's books and to reading them. Urge you today to get a copy of it. It's really great. And honestly, this is what's the best part of my job is getting to dialogue with Joel on issues like this. And now I get a chance to tell everybody that Joel's new book, "The Libyan Diversion" is available. And go out and get a copy and pack it into your vacation baggage and get out to the beach and get out to the pool. Joel, thank you so much for your amazing commentary. And we're gonna keep praying that God uses this book and opens up people's minds, you know, increasingly, you know, through the podcast and through books like this and others about what God is doing in the Middle East. So thank you for your time with us from Jerusalem today.

- I appreciate it very much, Carl. And you know, we've even met people over the years who've gotten saved by the Gospel presentation in some of the books. It's not always as strong and clear in some books 'cause you can't make them feel like they're all, you know, Gospel tracts, but, but you know, Lynn and I did meet in Campus Crusade for Christ, and we were terrified about sharing the little 10-page four spiritual laws Gospel tract so I kind of thought, "Well, maybe I could just weave some of that into a 450-page novel," and to meet people who've gotten saved or come back to their faith or been inspired even to go into ministry, full-time ministry in the Middle East or other places, those have been benefits I just didn't see coming, but of course we prayed for. But anyway, thank you, Carl. It's very, very kind for you to say that.

- Well, you're welcome. You know, to all our listeners, if you would like to learn more about The Joshua Fund and our heart for ministry in the Middle East, you can visit our website at, and there you can learn about all that we're doing in the epicenter to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, and how you can participate in the healing work we're doing in this critical region. As always, you can check out our show notes for anything you heard on the podcast that you'd like more information on. For Joel Rosenberg, I'm Carl Moeller. Thanks for listening to this episode of "Inside The Epicenter."

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