When I got my three book deal with HarperCollins, the original plan was that I would write three legal thrillers, set in California, centering around the recurring character of Alex Sedaka, a lawyer who runs a one-man band with his paralegal Juanita Cortez.  However, for various reasons Mercy and No Way Out did not set the world on fire and only sold moderately well.

My editor, Kate, remembered that I had expressed a liking for conspiracy thrillers, including those which involved reference to the past and secret societies – like those of Dan Brown.  So she asked me if I would like to have a go at writing such a thriller, offering such examples as Atlantis, the Turin Shroud and the Templars.  Whilst I felt that the latter two themes had been flogged to death by other writers, I liked the idea of Atlantis because I was fascinated by ancient Greece.  Atlantis, the sunken continent, could be linked to the eruption of Santorini circa 1600 BCE and that in turn could be linked to Knossos in Crete and the two ancient scripts that were found there by archaeologists: Linear A and Linear B.

I jumped at the chance and wrote back to Kate suggesting this, pointing out that Linear A had still not been deciphered, whilst the man who had deciphered Linear B had died relatively young in a car accident.  After a phone discussion, I proceeded to work on various ideas.  I came up with two in particular that I liked.  One involved ancient Greek writings in Greece, such as Linear A, the still-undeciphered script at Knossos in Crete.  The other involved Moses and the Ten Commandments.  In particular, I was thinking about an old theory that there was a link between the Biblical figure of Moses and the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who attempted to reform the ancient Egyptian religion by introducing the concept that there was only one God, or at least one true God.

Initially my preference was for the one set in ancient Greece.  My initial research for that project even made me aware of another ancient Greek script, the Phaistos Disk – a clay disk with hieroglyphic type engravings on both sides.  However, a friend of mine pointed out, during one of our long talks, that I actually know far more about Moses and the Bible than I do about ancient Greece.  Even if the Moses book required research into ancient Egypt, at least I had a head start with the Biblical narrative and could therefore hit the ground running.  When I told my friend about Akhenaten the monotheistic Pharaoh, he was even more convinced that this was the book I should write – and his confidence was contagious.

I decided not to go literally with the theory that Moses and Akhenaten were the same – the theory is rejected by serious scholars – but rather with a subtle variation on the theme.  However, I still needed a modern story.  My editor didn’t want me to write a Robert Graves style I, Claudius, set entirely in the past.  They wanted a Dan Brown style thriller about a modern-day conspiracy that links up with events from the past and threatens to change our view of history.   I promptly thought about who might object to revelations that threatened the religious view of the Bible as well as such related issues as academic jealousy, spun the yarn out of the raw fibres and then wove it into a rich fabric.

Thus was born the provisionally titled Moses Tablets, a complicated conspiracy thriller consisting of a hundred chapters.  I developed this story confident that my editor would like it.  Unfortunately, upon reading my convoluted synopsis, she decided that it was too complicated.

It was clearly not going to be plain sailing.

More to follow…


5 Responses to How I came to write THE MOSES LEGACY – Part 1

  • Tinksoank says:

    I just finished reading the Moses Legacy and I have to say it is brilliant. I am looking forward to Daniel Klein’s next adventure.

  • clagueacast says:

    I’ve just read this part and I’m going to read the rest right away, but I wanted to tell you that I was mightily impressed. It seems that even the story of how you came to write the book is an adventure in itself. I never realized that the writing process itself could make such an riveting narrative.

    Now to read the rest.

  • Alurapnunda says:

    Your description of how you came to write this book is riveting. If the book itself is even HALF as good, then it will certainly become a bestseller. I am going to order a copy right now!

    Thanks for this and keep up the good work.

  • dkessler says:

    It was actually a different editor who edited Mercy. That was Maxine. She left HarperCollins for another company just before Mercy was published

    In fairness to Kate, she only read a synopsis not the full thing – because I never wrote that version. The storyline was quite hard to follow in the synopsis. I sometimes write in a kind of shorthand, or truncated text, so that I know what I mean, but no one else does. Once it comes down to the full book, it is usually clear by the end, although hopefully not predictable before that.

    Anyway, as I will make clear later, the new book is also complicated. That is there is a sting in the tail – very apropos for a book that includes references to snakes – there was even going to be a scorpion in it at one time, but I took that out.

  • Perhaps your editor decided it was too complicated because she failed to guess the twist in the tail.
    Did she guess the twist in “Mercy”? I bet she didn’t! LOL.