2019-02-20
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Veteran actor Wesley Snipes is a spiritual warrior, and he has translated this lifestyle into his hard-hitting, debut urban fantasy novel, “Talon of God.”

Snipes, in a creative collaboration with ghostwriter and first-time novelist, Ray Norman, tells the tale of Lauryn Jefferson, a skeptical young doctor who finds herself caught in a battle between the forces of Heaven and Hell in the claustrophobic urban jungle of Chicago. When Lauryn, the estranged daughter of a Baptist preacher, encounters a homeless man that has been transformed into a demonic creature, her worldview begins to shatter, and her life is put at risk.

Fortunately, a familiar figure arrives to save the day, gleaming sword in hand.

Fans of Snipes’ Blade films will find much to love here. The entry of Talon Hunter, a “middle-aged, dark-skinned man” wielding a sword with a blade “like molten silver” brings to mind the titular half-vampire hero of the beloved 1998 film and its sequels. Together, he and Lauryn embark on a journey to save Chicago—and the world—from mass demonic possession.

"If we're not compelled to gain a deeper understanding of good and evil, how can we make the world a better place?"

But unlike the Blade films, “Talon of God” is infused with Snipes’ spiritual worldview, and the power of Christian faith is one of the main themes throughout the narrative. Snipes deals with tough questions concerning the problem of evil, the sovereignty of God, and the existence of free will, but never veers into peachiness or monologues.

Far from it—“Talon of God” is a fun, snappy read that doesn’t shy away from the darkness. Snipes’ story is one that effortlessly weaves spirituality into action and adventure that anyone can enjoy, regardless of belief. This isn’t “Christian fiction." It’s fiction that draws from Christianity to tell an awesome story, bringing readers face-to-face with terrifying evil.

This is not only entertaining—it's useful. After all, as Christian horror director Scott Derrickson once said in an interview with Christianity Today, “If we're not compelled to gain a deeper understanding of good and evil, how can we make the world a better place?”

We caught up with Dr. Snipes and Mr. Norman to talk about what inspired their debut novel, what the collaborative process looked like, and how the life experiences of a beloved action star became a supernatural thriller.

"Could you talk about what inspired 'Talon of God?'"

Snipes: “I would say the inspiration was twofold. One: the search for purpose in one’s life, and to address the question of ‘Are our destinies predetermined, or do we have free will?’ And the other was to create something that had a spiritual tone to it—a spiritual warrior—that began this particular search.  That’s not the story of this particular book, but that’s part of the inspiration.

And then when me and Norman hooked up, it began to be clear that we shared similar sensibilities, a similar quest for our understanding of spirituality, and the relationship between man and God and purpose of life. And therein began the process.

And we looked forward to the opportunity of creating something that we could turn into a very cool action film later on.”

"Mr. Norman, what did the collaborative process between you and Dr. Snipes look like?"

Norman: “Well, it was a pretty even-handed collaboration. We would exchange ideas and concepts that we had, and kind of work out how the characters would respond under different circumstances and kind of go from there.

Like I said, it was a very collaborative process, and something that we worked on for the better part of two years. We wanted to make sure that all the characters were well-developed, and that he story was compelling.”

"Did the two of you do any research for “The Talon of God,” and did anything from that research personally interest you?"

Norman: “I think that, especially given Wesley’s deep, profound spirituality, and all of the different spiritual teachers and masters that he has met over the years—you know that really contributed greatly to enhancing the spiritual concepts of the book.

And I think I was able to bring in, along with Dr. Snipes’ [contributions], some action and adventure. So when you combine the depth of knowledge that Dr. Snipes had, with some of the storytelling that I had done in the past, I think we worked really well together.”

"How did your own spiritual journey affect the development of this book?"

Snipes: “I don’t put an end to it at this point—I think I’m still on it. The fact that I’m even in this business, coming from the humble beginnings that I come from, is a testament to divine intervention, as far as I’m concerned.

And also, how do you get to this position? How do you get in these situations—the good ones, or the ones that are considered bad, or not so good? Are your actions of your own volition, or have you been influenced by other things and other people—other forces—that make you do things that you really wouldn’t do?

All of these questions have been a part of my spiritual journey. You can’t get out of acting school without addressing some of these kinds of questions: ‘Why did he do that? What was the character’s motivation?’

Norman: “I think one of the interesting things about the book is that you’re not only just seeing the human side of the drama, but we’re able to kind of pull back the curtain, and you’re able to see the activity taking place in the unseen spiritual world—the battles from the angelic and demonic forces, and the types of influences that unseen forces might have on our lives.”

Snipes: “If I could add one thing to it, I think you will agree that sometimes you see shadows out of the corner of your eye. Sometimes, at night, you see something moving past you. You thought you saw it, but it really wasn’t there.

Maybe it was.”

"You handled the supernatural in a very fascinating and entertaining way."

Norman: “And we brought the streets of Chicago into it.”

"That’s a great combination."

Snipes: “And a rare combination. You don"t often see the amalgamation of that urban world with the faith-based or supernatural or spiritual type of content.

We’re at an interesting time now where I think, generally speaking, you’ll find a lot of people asking: “What the heck is going on?” The paradigm has shifted in so many places and so many areas. The comfort zones people once had are no longer there. The blankets that they used to have to comfort themselves are no longer comforting. They have been pulled off.

Are there other forces involved in this?”

"Besides just being a great read, what’s the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from 'Talon of God?'"

Snipes: “Clearly, the enjoyment and take the ride of adventure. But I would like people to come away with a re-affirmation and a new confidence in the power of faith—in the power of having faith. Being steadfast in the face of adversity. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength,” as it said.

I would love for them to get that—don’t give up. Stay steadfast. Stay true. Keep the faith. The more you work it and cultivate it, the stronger it gets—the more formidable it gets. And it will be there to serve you and protect you. It’s not just an idea. It helps you.”

Norman: “Absolutely. Through faith, all things are possible. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t have summed it up better than Dr. Snipes just did. I mean, we really want them to know that the faith walk is real, the battle is real, but if you’re able to stand steadfast in your faith, you can overcome any obstacle in your path.”

Faith and Fantasy

For those who believe in the supernatural world of spiritual warfare, it can be frustrating that there’s no way to tangibly fight the forces of darkness—a fist or a blade has no effect on the realm of soul and spirit.

But that’s a large part of the appeal of “Talon of God”—readers get to vicariously participate in the battle against supernatural evil, having a little fun along the way.

And even for those readers who don’t concern themselves with spiritual principles, Snipes’ novel pulls from Christian myth and legend to create a well-structured, epic conflict that’s sure to engross fans of action and urban fantasy.

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