Author Spotlight: Neil R. Fox
We are pleased to introduce author Neil R. Fox, who recently published The Crown and Salvation. The book is now available for order through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and is everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Neil to share a little bit about his writing and his new book. But first, a little bit about him.
Neil R. Fox is a retired professor and past coordinator of the Creative Photography program at Humber College in Toronto. He currently resides in Orillia, Ontario with his wife Barbara. Over the years, Neil has been involved in many business ventures, exhibits, and innovative projects, including the writing of many manuals for course material.
A believer since 1971, Neil and his family spent several years in Jerusalem through the mid-1980s, learning about and photographing the land. The book The Crown and Salvation reflects the wealth of biblical information that has been revealed in recent years through Messianic believers and recent archaeological discoveries.
The Crown and Salvation was honoured to be shortlisted by Word Alive Press for their annual Braun Award for Fiction. It was also shortlisted in 2021 for The Castle Quay Award by the Word Guild of Canada.
Q: What inspired you to write The Crown and Salvation?
A: I had it in mind for some time to write a play. I wanted to share in a relatable way much of the knowledge I had acquired over the years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I found myself with some unexpected time, so I decided to sit down to write.
As I began, it became clear that a novel was unfolding, so I changed my approach. At first, I had little idea of where this was going, but as I wrote, the events seemed to unfold before me. After living in Israel for several years, exploring and photographing every inch of the land, the characters and streets of Jerusalem flowed through my imagination. .
Q: What is the book about?
A: The Crown and Salvation is the story of a young Jewish boy who grew up in the northern region of Sidon in the time of Christ. While studying to become a rabbi, a family tragedy at the hands of the Romans leaves him destitute. A series of circumstances make him bitter and full of hatred towards the brutal Roman occupiers, convincing him to join forces with the Jewish Zealots to fight against Rome.
On his first mission to Jerusalem, the group’s plans go awry. He then finds himself catapulted into the final week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Through unexpected connections, he begins a quest to discover if this radical rabbi could be the expected messiah, a warrior to free the Jewish people from oppression, or a charlatan. In the process of his search for the truth, his own nightmares confront him.
Q: What is the purpose of the novel?
A: The novel is a retelling of the Passion Week from a unique perspective—the firsthand witness of a fictional Jewish character who appears on the margins of the last week of Christ’s life, searching for proof. At a simple level, the novel retells the events of the Passover week, placing them in chronological order and making it easy for the reader to relive the story. It is about the incredible events, the teachings of Christ, and the loving sacrifice that God made during that historic week.
Q: Why do you choose to write historical fiction?
A: Just as Jesus illustrated his teachings with parables, simple stories to bring across a deeper meaning, so I have done with this story. The secondary purpose of the novel is to teach the reader the amazing prophecies and temple ordinances that Jesus fulfilled from the Old Testament. Rather than write a thesis on these fulfillments, I placed them in a story format to help a broad audience discover the incredible accuracy of the Bible.
Q: How accurate are the events, dates, and places in the book?
A: I put a great deal of effort into making this story as accurate as possible. The locations and geography combine current archaeological information and biblical accounts along with my experiences of living in the land.
Q: How do you feel about portraying Jesus?
A: This is not something I undertook lightly, and I did it with lots of prayer. I have read too many portrayals that put words into Jesus’s mouth, have him doing things outside of scripture. I limited the number of actual encounters with Jesus to what was necessary and only used scripture quotes for His spoken words. It is my personal interpretation. A section at the back of the book explains my decisions to help the reader understand.
Q: What is the primary message of the story?
A: The novel is about finding faith and redemption. The main character is thrust together with others who are also searching for answers, each in their own way. Through the series of events that unfold during that Passover Week of the Messiah, some of them join forces to discover the truth together, finding themselves amidst the greatest moment in the history of humanity. It is a story of love—the love of God and the love of fellow mankind.
Q: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
A: Of course, the actual writing and plot development was hard work, but what hit me the hardest was the emotional involvement. Spending day after day reliving the last days of our Lord and Saviour took me to a place I had not expected. As it came to life in my mind, it was as if I was a participant on the streets of Jerusalem. I pray that the story conveys the same feeling to the reader.
Q: What is your next step as an author? A sequel?
A: This is the most common question I get asked by readers. We will have to see. I still believe that this story would make a wonderful script for a theatre or film production and will work towards that as well.
Inspired to read Neil’s new book? Order your copy of The Crown and Salvation today!