Author: Jonah S White
Genre: Apocalyptic Thriller
Book: Shadows of Darkness (Aug. 25, 2020)
The tribulation is nearing its midpoint; Ultimate evil is about to take the throne. James Janis tries to discover his purpose to protect innocent lives from the antichrist and tyrannical Global Federation.Tweet
The Development of an Apocalyptic Thriller
Interview by Jenny Fulton
Christian Science Fiction and Apocalyptic author Jonah S White graduated with degrees in Literature and Writing-Intensive English from Marquette University. While his course studies introduced and allowed him to practice writing in multiple genres, the apocalyptic one is definitely his favorite.
Jonah’s debut novel, Shadows of Darkness, will be released at the end of this month on August 25.
“It takes a more character driven path, showing the main character, along with a few others, living through the Tribulation period,” Jonah shared.
He also told me he’s working on a few more novels right now that are also within the same apocalyptic storyline or universe.
“What inspired you to write Shadows of Darkness?” I asked.
“It all began in June of 2015 when my brother and I were binge watching every single end times movie that had been released. During the same time, we read most of the popular end times novel series and collections on the Christian market.”
The brothers’ interest in the genre prompted many a fascinating conversation. Before long, their dad suggested they try to write an end times movie of their own. They followed his advice, but their first attempt was far from satisfying.
“The first draft of Shadows of Darkness was originally going to be a movie script that contained three different story lines of characters going through the tribulation,” Jonah said. “The final result was less than satisfying to say the least. A majority of the characters were flat and had plots that had been seen multiple times in an end times story. My brother and I were trying to come up with a more unique plot, but by the time late August came around, I had to begin my college life and the script was tossed aside to rest for a little while.”
A couple years later Jonah picked up the discarded manuscript and decided to change the story from the ground up. Part of this change included turning it into a novel instead. His brother, unfortunately, wasn’t able to help him out anymore due to his own college life.
“In 2019, I re-read my original movie script for Shadows of Darkness and discovered some issues with the main character’s motivations as well as the plot holes that needed to be addressed. The main character had been given an extremely cliché journey which did not work for the story.”
In the years between his first and second draft, Jonah had read multiple novels and carefully watched movies to learn how to create a more compelling main character.
“I went into these novels and films with a different mindset, almost as if I was doing a story critique. After a few months, in-between all my schoolwork, I had learned a lot about storytelling and was determined to continue studying the art of story crafting. However, even with all this research, I was struggling to find the perfect motivation and arc for my main character. For many, storytelling is an art, one which requires time and dedication. That’s when I saw my personal life and struggles throughout my college years and decided to use some of those ideas to re-create the main character. I decided to put some of my personal traits, strengths and weaknesses into James Janis to make him a better character.”
Writing from his heart and his life added excitement to the story and inspired Jonah to write for and from himself.
“I went into the writing with the mindset that I was, in a way, going through what James was going through during a dark era. Like, what would I do in his situation? Would I make the same choices as him?”
“In what other ways did writing this book impact you?” I asked.
“It really helped me with the writing skills I obtained from my time with Marquette University. But as it goes, writing a novel like this introduces new challenges and offers new learning experiences. When I continue to write, I discover just how much I still need to learn, which is a great thing.
“This novel has also impacted me when it comes to creating characters and their motivations. My main character for example, is in a position where he has lost pretty much everything leading up to the events of Shadows of Darkness. This causes him to try and find his purpose in protecting innocent lives from the Global Federation and their evil regime. While this is a great thing to strive for, he has some misunderstandings with his motives. Much of it stems from the fact that he has underlying motives which are selfish in his efforts to have self-worth.
“I also took time to highlight the motivations of a couple of the enemies within the Federation ranks. These characters also lost something in their lives which pushed them to make the wrong choice to bring stability to the globe under the orders of the antichrist. Overall, creating characters for this novel and future installments to the series has really been a fun part of the journey.”
One of the themes woven throughout Shadows of Darkness is that of finding purpose.
Jonah explained how he ultimately settled on this theme.
“James Janis is already a Christian at the beginning of the story. His journey requires him to grow and learn both internally and externally. He has some personal goals to help as many innocent civilians from the Global Federation as he can, but like other main characters, James is a flawed character who must learn to grow as a protagonist. His aspirations in and of themselves are great but they’re not what is truly motivating him. Of course, one of his goals is to survive the tribulation period, but when writing this novel, I realized it wasn’t enough to drive this entire story. Surviving works well as a passive goal, meaning this should be an automatic. For one, everyone across the globe is doing this, with some doing so in different ways. In a collapsing world like the apocalypse, there are many people trying to survive, which makes James’ story a dime a dozen if his only motivation is to survive for as long as he can. Therefore, when it came to creating a theme, I knew James needed to have a unique primary goal and motivation for the story.”
So what did Jonah finally settle on for that deeper motivation?
“James is trying to protect innocent lives. At the same time, he’s also seeking to find his place and purpose within the chaos. He comes from a life where he has lost almost everything, is now a fugitive of the Federation, and wants to have a positive impact where his life can actually matter. But that right there can be a pitfall for James. Are his decisions guided by his desire to see a positive value in his life or to truly help and invest in others for their sake alone? I decided to go with this theme because when I was in college, it was really difficult to discover what my purpose was in life beyond school. I was in constant communication with God, awaiting any sort of answer. At a couple of points during that period, I felt that if I were omitted from the equation, then nothing would have changed. No one would have changed, for better or for worse, with or without my existence. Nothing significant would have changed without my existence. This is something that will be to a degree explored in the novel.”
Expect Shadows of Darkness to be different in some respects than other Christian Apocalyptic novels. For one this, it adheres to a more personal narrative storyline, mainly following the journey of the main protagonist, James Janis. It also shows the point of view of several other characters.
“This means that the plot focuses more on the main character and his personal story rather than a story about the tribulation and how I believe it will unfold.”
“What do you hope readers come away with after reading your book?”
“I initially set out to provide readers an entertaining, character-driven story set in the apocalypse era. I am hoping readers will come away with a story they enjoyed and would like to see more of in terms of additional books in the Shadows of Darkness timeline. I would like to take the time to give a disclaimer that this story is in no way a representation of how I believe the end times will play out. This is a piece of fiction and more of a ‘what if’ scenario. I do not want to claim to know how the tribulation will unfold or attempt to mislead people in any way. If people would like to learn more about this coming period, the Bible is the best place to go. Shadows of Darkness will highlight the journey of James Janis, a story I hope readers will enjoy and love.”
One final piece to note about this book is that it takes place close to the midpoint of the tribulation, just before the great tribulation period.
“The reason for this is that many end time novels I have read in the past (ones of which I enjoyed) take place before the tribulation begins. I wanted to take a different approach in order to make it work for the story and characters. Plus, I felt it would have been really difficult to try to write a convincing story surrounding the transition into the tribulation, since I don’t know what events will kick start this horrible period or how it will happen. That’s why I decided to place the story within this era. It also gave me a bit more freedom as far as where the plot could go.”
- The new government establishment, the Global Federation, is on the verge of total global domination, wiping out what is left of any faction that stands against them.
- The Federation has a very powerful military, the United World Army (or UWA). The UWA has just about every last soldier genetically engineered to be stronger, faster, etc. Almost forty to fifty percent of their military units consist of AI technology, with AI soldiers, drones, and unmanned air and ground vehicles, all of which impose unique threats to our characters.
- James will join up with a mainly religious (Christ-based) resistance which has been working for a while to stage a large military-type operation to help many civilians flee the wrath of the Federation once the Midpoint of the tribulation begins. This is supposed to fulfill a Biblical prophecy foretelling a second exodus. A hint at what prophecy this is referencing: it is found in Matthew 24:15-18.
The novel contains violence and death given that this story takes place in a dark era. Reader discretion is advised, though the violence isn’t described in detail.
On the other hand, Shadows of Darkness doesn’t contain any profanity or sexual content.
JAMES JANIS, a freedom fighter and fugitive, journeys across the world to find his purpose and protect innocent lives from the tyrannical Global Federation—a regime under the control of the Antichrist that has replaced all of the world’s previous governments.
James joins a religious-based resistance faction that is staging a grand operation to save thousands of people from the Federation’s grip. The faction’s plan could fulfill an ancient biblical prophecy predicting a future second exodus.
With so many lives at stake, will James and the resistance fighters pull off their daring operation? Or will they face total defeat by an enemy force determined to drive this prophecy—and all of its believers—to extinction?