currents

Sam Teagarden’s back in ‘Madness of the Q’

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 1/13/21

FREMONT, NY — It all started with a Great Courses lecture.

Early Christianity might be an unusual choice, but thriller writer and part-time area resident Gray Basnight was interested. …

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currents

Sam Teagarden’s back in ‘Madness of the Q’

Posted

FREMONT, NY — It all started with a Great Courses lecture.

Early Christianity might be an unusual choice, but thriller writer and part-time area resident Gray Basnight was interested. “It was told from a historical perspective,” he said. “And it mentioned the Q document. I thought, ‘What if it were discovered?’” He asked himself: What if it had the power to completely change how we think about Christianity? What would that do to people?

A train of thought started, and Basnight turned it into “Madness of the Q.” (“Q” is short for the German word “quelle,” or “source” and the real Q document is a theory: a collection of sayings by Jesus that scholars say might explain some of the similarities between the gospels of Luke and Matthew.)

But don’t assume it’s dry and boring—the action doesn’t let up. There are flash-mob suicides, impassioned atheists, a life-controlling app, killer drones and a nearly unstoppable assassin. All of this churns around the existence of fragments of an actual Q document, which could upend religion as we know it.

Or not.

Is it real? Is it a medieval hoax?

Well, obviously, you have to read the book to find out.

“I had a good time writing it,” Basnight said with a laugh.

He’s been writing from his home in Fremont. He and his wife, Lisa Weiss, are “so lucky to have a house in the woods,” he said.

He brings back Sam Teagarden, his math-professor hero from “Flight of the Fox,” a novel he published in 2018, to decode the Q document.

The cliche is to write what you know, but religion (or espionage, or assassin-thwarting) is not in Basnight’s background. He’s a retired news writer for radio and television, an industry where you have to absorb a lot of information fast and then turn it into something people understand and, hopefully, find interesting.

Making the switch from fact-based reporting to fiction “was not hard at all,” he said.

“Madness of the Q” is his fourth book, and he readily shares his writing advice. “Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, four to six hours a day... then you’ll teach yourself to be a better writer,” he said.

His Sam Teagarden books are both “run-for-your-life thrillers, but there’s meat in the background.” It’s not just the religious questions—What is it about religion that could possibly drive people to commit mass suicide? What keeps us faithful?—but it’s also the idea of a person being turned into a symbol, whether that person likes it or not. And, further, what could happen to that person if the people who idolize him change their minds?

The book is violent, and “I didn’t like it [but] I felt I had to go with it, that’s what would happen. Fortunately,” he said, “it’s resolved in the end.”

Well... let’s avoid spoilers here. We’ll just say the end is ambiguous. “I thought it had more meaning,” Basnight said.

So, it leaves you thinking. But if you read it and have questions, you can ask him yourself. Basnight has taken full advantage of Zoom to do virtual meet-the-author events through local libraries. He also does guest blogging and frequently discusses the process of writing.

He praises libraries, especially here in the country, where they are both a source for books and a gathering place for those who love them. “I’ve learned that libraries are a writer’s great friend.”

Connect with Gray Basnight on his website, www.graybasnight.com. He’ll also appear at a Zoom event from the Western Sullivan Public Library on Thursday, January 28 at 6 p.m. Register at www.wsplonline.org.

Excerpt from ‘Madness of the Q’

[Meet Sam Teagarden, mild-mannered math professor. He’s just trying to grade some tests when the killer mini-drones show up.]

He glanced to the hallway, hoping someone walking past might scare them off.

Yeah, right. On the first afternoon of spring break? Not a chance.

Okay, enough is enough. If he was going to get zapped, it would have to be in the back. He made a break for the door and into the empty hallway as fast as his creaky knees would carry him. At the stairwell, he leaned on the banister and partially slid to the first landing.

From there, he did another half-slide to the ground floor, high-stepping like a daddy long legs. On the way down, a janitorial pushcart parked in the main corridor caught his attention... The push broom dust mop and spritz bottles had no value to him. The yellow dustpan, however, might be useful.

Skipping the final two steps, he hurried to the cart, grabbed the yellow handle, spun to regain his footing, and readied the dustpan for use as a gladiatorial flyswatter. Mysteriously, only two drones separated from the pack to follow him. The others were nowhere to be seen. It didn’t matter. One was more than enough to kill him in an instant with epipoxilene, or any of the latest weapons that could dispense instant death

At the bottom of the stairwell, they paused to hover and observe their target. Whoever was monitoring the remote video screen must have laughed to see Sam Teagarden ready to defend his life with a dustpan.

“Madness of the Q,” a Sam Teagarden thriller by Gray Basnight. Published by Down & Out Books, Lutz, FL.

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