THB: What inspired you to write this particular novel? Was there a series of events that led you to want to tell this story?
HG : About one year ago, a couple of close friends betrayed me. This event, along with several other issues I was going through, inspired me to write Logic of Demons. Essentially, the novel is about how human beings justify their actions, the thought process (or lack thereof) pertaining to decision making, and how even good people are at times capable of immoral behavior. Getting back to my squabble with several close friends, I remember that during the last conversation I had with one of them, he actually quoted a Bible verse in an attempt to give me advice. Thus, the theme behind my book stems from an observation of how religion can be used to legitimize a point of view, or even to circumvent logic. Writing the novel was a catharsis and helped me heal from the hurtful actions of others and my mistakes as well (I wasn’t perfect either). It also enabled me to make a statement about humanity – all at once. I suggest that anyone going through heartache write a story and vent emotions through characters, a plot, and a storyline. If your literary endeavor is fueled by emotions that you’d normally bottle up inside, it will automatically be successful because the pursuit of writing will help alleviate stress and perhaps heal some wounds.
THB: What type of research did you do for Logic of Demons?
HG: Well, there are two wonderful books that I think anyone interested in politics, world events, and human nature should read. The first book is entitled, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Mr. Grossman’s On Killing is an unbelievable look into the human mind, and how people can be conditioned to kill a legitimate enemy (in battle) and even innocent people (during genocides or slaughters). Mr. Grossman taught psychology at West Point, and the case studies and research found in his book are eye opening and reveal a part of all human beings most of us don’t like to recognize. Ultimately, he highlights how the human mind can justify an entire array of cruel acts, and how these rationalizations can lead to dire emotional consequences. Another wonderful book is God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens. Mr. Hitchens analyzes how religion has been utilized throughout history to legitimize irrational, dangerous, and often times deadly behavior. Both books helped me also see how one of my friends (who happened to be quite religious) was able to justify his actions, even though these actions were not only contrary to religious values, but also in opposition to logical and rational thought. In addition, I did research on the Rwandan Genocide, the Iran-Iraq War, and various other historical events that are addressed in my novel.
THB: Your book focuses a lot on decisions and consequences, on both a small and large scale. Do you feel that those bad decisions and resulting consequences are what make us grow as individuals?
(I always say, those hard-learned lessons are the ones that stuck with me)
HG: Well, yes, I agree with you in that often times in life, we learn from our mistakes and failures. In fact, I remember icons like Michael Jordan and others, when they were interviewed, stated that it was their failures that made them better, not all their success. But, if I’m looking at international events or political decisions, failed policy can lead to people dying and suffering. So yes, poor decision making can be eventually seen as a positive if we learn from the consequences of our actions. On the flip side, let’s take a closer look at how our society treats returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The only people truly sacrificing and waging a war against “terror” are the troops and their families. However, when these brave men and women return from battle, they face a myriad of hardships that our “patriotic” politicians hardly ever speak about. Returning veterans face a higher than national average unemployment rate, a dreadfully high suicide epidemic, a shamefully underfunded Veterans Administration, and a sometimes six month long wait for paperwork to be processed. In this example, the unwise decisions of our leaders affect returning veterans and their families adversely and the consequences are grave. I wrote an article about returning veterans for Tikkun Magazine, entitled What’s Happening to Our Veterans, which addresses these consequences.
THB: And in what ways did you show that growth in your characters?
HG: Devin starts off being a man consumed with bitterness, hatred, and retribution. He ends up realizing that his anger and resentment doesn’t end up helping him achieve any of his goals. Each of the other characters, the angels, demons, and even Satan, evolves in their own unique ways as well. Ultimately, my goal was to have the reader change a bit during and after having read the story. And of course, we all know what happens to Nadine…
THB: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while doing research for, or while writing your book?
HG: During the Iran –Iraq war, Iranian leaders imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. These keys were worn as necklaces by child soldiers and used as inspiration. Once these kids (many as young as 12 years old) would engage the enemy in suicidal charges, often times running into enemy machine gun fire or clearing mine fields, the plastic keys would symbolize their entrance into paradise.
THB: What would you describe as your main character, Devin’s, strengths? and weaknesses?
HG: Devin wants happiness, but doesn’t know how to achieve it. Once his wife is taken from him, his world is ruined, and he justifies his actions through thoughts of revenge and retribution. Eventually, he listens to the advice of angels and acknowledges his mistakes. The ability to admit his faults is one of his most positive attributes. Devin’s impulsiveness is probably his most horrible character trait.
THB: What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your book?
HG: Ultimately, I believe that positive actions speak louder than words or even “faith.” A person can have all the faith in the world, be able to quote Bible verses, give 10% of their income to a religious institution, and do everything their religious leader tells them to do, but if their actions are inconsistent with logic and rationality, and if their behavior hurts other physically or emotionally, then all their beliefs don’t help the world. Although I’m Jewish, philosophically I’m agnostic in my view of the world. I don’t believe “the guy upstairs” plays favorites, and if I wasn’t so frightened of the notion of nothing happening when we pass on, I’d probably be an atheist. Also, I believe that tribalism, or any viewpoint that leads a person to think that their culture or religion (or manner in which they separate themselves from others), is better than another person’s background , is the scourge of humanity. History has shown that millions can be slaughtered if certain people are deemed by more powerful groups to be less than human, or below the worth of the powerful group. A quick look at world history easily sheds light into the phenomenon of tribalism and its consequences.
THB: Can you tell us one of your writing quirks? Something unusual that you do as part of your writing ritual.
HG: I enjoy writing late at night, when I’m upset, or when I view something to be hypocritical or dangerous. I like engaging in political debates and expressing my thoughts. Several months back, the Jerusalem Post published an article I wrote entitled “What if they opposed a synagogue?”
So, often times politics gets me to write, and convey a message, either through and article or through characters in a story.
THB: Who are your favorite authors and do they share some common trait that makes you enjoy their books more than others?
HG: I LOVE George Orwell, primarily because 1984 and all his other novels dive into the human psyche in such a profound manner. The Stranger, by Albert Camus is another amazing novel, and writers like Camus, Orwell, and others aren’t only storytellers, but their also philosophers. My favorite author currently is Christopher Hitchens, because of his wit and ability to make me think.
THB: You’re writing a follow up novel. Could you share a little bit about it, without giving anything away?
HG: Well, I’m working on getting a publisher to take a look at Logic of Demons and the series I’m working on. The follow up novel will also be socially and politically relevant (I hope readers think this novel is), with more polish in my writing style. I learned a tremendous amount about myself while writing Logic of Demon. The sequel will be fun and thought provoking also, and I think people will enjoy it just as much or even more.
Well personally, I’m looking forward to what unexpected surprises Mr. Goodman produces in his upcoming work. Thanks so much Hal for spending some time here at The Happy Booker!
Now, how do you get yourself a signed copy of Logic of Demons? Easy! Simply leave a question or comment for Hal here, he’ll be stopping in from time to time this week to answer you. Winners will be chosen on Friday 12/17 at 11:59 PM EST by Random.org. Remember to leave me an email or some way to contact you if you win.
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