Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book of Gabriel reviewed in The News Herald

My coworker, Jan Waddy, wrote a review of The Book of Gabriel that appeared in today's Panama City News Herald and online at newsherald.com. It's only the third time the paper has written something about my books, (the other articles are not available online) and I'm very pleased with it. Here's the text:

Book of Gabriel: Be aware of dreams
By Jan Waddy / PanamaCity.com

PANAMA CITY — Have you ever had a dream and wondered if it was real, contemplated your existence as a human and spiritual being or been surprised by your own intentions?

Let Tony Simmons guide you into another realm with his latest novel, “The Book of Gabriel: An Endtimes Fable.”

“This project started as a serial for a friend’s website, part of a year-long daily fiction writing challenge I gave myself in 2008-09,” Simmons said. “My family had suffered the loss of two dear loved ones that year, which made it very difficult for me to express myself creatively. This was a way of forcing myself to exercise that part of my brain, and it allowed me to work out through fiction some of the emotions, fears and memories I was dealing with.”

Other work from that period is featured in “The Best of Days,” a collection of short stories, poems and experimental writing Simmons published in 2010.

“The Book of Gabriel” opens with Gabriel, known by many names, sitting alone under the stars on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, waiting to die from an overdose of alcohol and prescription pills. When a beautiful woman rises up out of the sea, he thinks she’s a hallucination. She drafts him into a mission that pits them against angels and demons alike in a desperate attempt to reunite the shattered aspects of God and stop the coming apocalypse.

“It starts out weird and gets stranger as you go,” Simmons said.

Even if you can’t fully relate to Gabriel’s circumstances, his experiences will leave you pondering questions about your own destiny — setting the book down to think and then picking it back up to see where it leads.

“The Book of Gabriel” does what all great books do; it opens your mind. The story includes regional locations, some stuff Simmons “just made up” and actual Biblical references. If you find yourself unsure of what is based on fact or fiction, you just might want to follow up by reading the Bible.

From Shekinah to Lucifer, the characters in Simmons’ book are so well developed that setting the book down is akin to pushing pause on the mind’s video. And if you have read Simmons’ weekly Undercurrents column since it first appeared in The News Herald, a familiar face will come to mind when you read about the secret power of Joy.

Along the way, Shekinah and Gabriel meet Cain (the first murderer) and his daughter Death, the archangel Michael and the mysterious Watchers that live among the stars. The quest becomes a dangerous road trip through parallel realities, dream worlds, time/space paradoxes, myth and legend — with side-trips into chapters from “The Book of Cain,” lessons in forgiveness and Joy.

“It’s pretty experimental in some places,” Simmons said.

The experiments will be refreshments for those who wander in random thoughts.

Meanwhile, Lucifer has his own plan to subvert the power of Shekinah, the female aspect of God — and Gabriel’s weakness is key to the devil’s plan.

“Every chapter ends with kind of a cliff hanger,” Simmons said. “I wanted to give myself a reason to go back and follow it up.”

The author is a writer and editor for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald. Originally from Century, Fla., he has lived in Panama City for more than 18 years with his family.

His other books include the literary novel “Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century” and the collection of his newspaper columns “Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents.” Simmons also compiled and edited the two volumes of “City Limits,” the official literary anthology of the Panama City Centennial, in 2008 and 2009. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, including the recently published “Between There” from Pulpwood Press.

You can follow his reporting at NewsHerald.com or PanamaCity.com, and his personal blog at TonySimmons.info. Find him on Twitter @midnightonmars and @PCTonyS, and Facebook.com/WriterTonySimmons.
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