Indie Author Giveway and Intro: Ezra Barany’s The Torah Codes
Welcome to my series of Interviews with Indie Authors. Today I feature — quite proudly — the release of my husband’s suspense novel, The Torah Codes.
In celebration of the day, we’re doing a series of giveaways to blog commenters throughout the day! We’ll be giving away three lovely items:
- at 12 noon, the mp3 album, Sacred Seas, written and performed by Ezra Barany;
- at 4pm, the ebook, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, Published by FireWolf Books,
- and at 8pm, a print copy of The Torah Codes, Ezra’s book. All times Pacific.
Names will be chosen at random using Random.org from the commenters at those three times. So comment away! Let us know what you think or if you have any questions for Ezra! He’ll pop on the blog during the day and answer your questions and comments. Thanks!
Ezra Barany has been fascinated by codes and puzzles ever since he was a little tot.
Even before we started dating, we were sending emails in code. 🙂
He started writing suspense and thriller stories in college and got seriously interested in the Bible Codes while attending Aish HaTorah’s Discovery Seminar in Jerusalem. The Torah Codes is Ezra’s first novel. Ezra has been a high school physics teacher, fiction writing teacher, songwriting teacher, ESL teacher to French children and pop performer. In his free time, he writes mushy love songs inspired by his wife and book coach Beth Barany. (Yeah! That’s me! See Sacred Seas for some of the songs he’s written for me.)
Ezra now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is working on his next book. (When he’s not hanging out watching movies and playing video games or editing videos.)
We chatted about his book and prepared this Q & A for you.
Q. What was the inspiration for your suspense novel The Torah Codes?
A. You ever have the experience where what you learn gives you such an epiphany that your whole outlook on life changes? That’s what happened with me. In Jerusalem, long before I met you, I took Aish HaTorah’s Discovery seminar, a seminar that offers to scientifically prove G-d’s existence. They had various approaches, but the one that stood out for me was the Torah codes. The experiment done in evaluating the Torah codes used the scientific method of Oh-HECk: Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment, and Conclusion. Actually, when I taught physics in high school, I always said “Oh-HECk-eR” to include Replication as part of the scientific process. And the Torah codes experiment was indeed replicated successfully by open-minded skeptics.
Q. While that’s interesting, it doesn’t quite answer the question of what the inspiration was for your novel. The plot? The characters? That sort of thing. You know what I mean!
A. Ah! Well, I took a completely non-scientific approach to creating the storyline. I had Torah code software to search for codes, so I made a list of loaded words and phrases, words like “world fire,” “apocalypse,” “end of the world,” and so on. From the few words I found encoded in the Torah, I then formulated a plot around them. That way, as the main character had experiences relating to those words, he’d find them in the Torah and go, “Oh my gosh! My fate has been predicted in the Bible!” So the words I found dictated how the storyline would go. But imagine that for a second! Imagine what it would be like to find your name encoded in the Bible. And then imagine how religious fundamentalists would react if they found that out about you! Now that’s a story!
Q. Fun! And the inspiration for the characters of Nathan and Sophia and the bad guy, who we won’t reveal yet?!
A. The protagonist is a combination of Lee Child’s hard-nosed character Reacher, the crafty MacGyver (though I confess, I never saw that show), and myself, I suppose. I only include myself because actually, every character I write is me in some way. The woman he meets is inspired by you! my bride and book coach, Beth Barany. The antagonist is inspired by Anthony Hopkins’ performance of Hannibal Lector, and also by a news report I once saw of a property manager who installed a two-way mirror and peepholes to watch a family of four do their daily routines. The manager was caught and his purpose for invading their privacy was for completely different reasons than the antagonist in my story.
Q. Who would enjoy reading The Torah Codes? Who is your audience?
A. Anyone who enjoyed reading The Da Vinci Code or Dan Brown’s books would find The Torah Codes to be thumping good read. Also, if you like Lee Child’s books you should check out The Torah Codes. Also, this book is for anyone who wants to reconnect with Judaism but has lost the ability to believe in an almighty Being. Put it this way: Combine the Reacher character from Lee Child’s books with Dan Brown’s pacing, and add a spoonful of scientific proof of G-d’s existence and you get The Torah Codes.
Q. What makes your book different from other suspense novels out there?
A. One thing I notice with novels and movies that have underlying messages to them is that the messages are hard to take seriously. I recently saw a Jean-Claude Van Damme film where his character gives a press conference about the problem with our nation’s reliance on oil. That’s a serious issue and deserves tremendous attention. The problem was that I’d just finished watching this same character in the movie do some unbelievable stunts and fighting, so whatever he had to say, as significant as it was, felt make-believe to me. I knew that just mentioning the Bible codes in my book was not going to give it the attention it deserved, so in an Appendix I included essays written by respected rabbis, doctors, and physicists.
The essays cover the significant themes in the book in a way that, I hope, will help people take the messages of the book more seriously. For example, my wonderful mother read my novel before the essays were included and she thought I made up the whole thing about the Torah codes. About a month later, when she read the Appendix, she asked me, “So there really are such things as codes in the Torah!” She had a completely different take on the book after reading the Appendix. The essays also make the book a great way to get classroom discussions on the themes of the book.
Q. So where can readers find out more?
A. They can check out more at my blog here: http://www.thetorahcodes.com/blog/. They can also connect with me on Facebook.
Enjoy his book trailer (that he produced himself through his video production company) Let us know what you think or if you have any questions for Ezra! He’ll pop on the blog during the day and answer your questions and comments. **Be sure to comment if you’d like free music or a book! Thanks!
Always a day late and a dollar short. But I sure look forward to reading this!
hi Ezra! congratulations on your novel’s release. as a reader, i’m fascinated by codes as well. i remember making some during my teenage years. though they were simple and easily breakable, i had hours of fun with it.
i’ve enjoyed Robert Harris’ Enigma, James Rollins’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.
i came across Agrippa’s De Oculta Philosophia and his Celestial Writing Characters, the Writing Called Malachim and the Writing Called Passing of the River. these are beautiful scripts and so are the Aiq Bkr cipher, the Royal Arch ciper (loosely based on the Aiq Bkr) the Illuminati ciphers and the Enochian alphabet.
another one i found fascinating is the Alphabet of Daggers and the Alphabet of Arrows.
i have a copy of The Bible Code but somehow i never got to reading it yet. nerves maybe? lol.
seriously, i would love to read your book The Torah Codes. it does sound interesting and right up my alley.
congratulations again and all the best with your writing and music! c”,)
This sounds fascinating. The title caught my eye immediately because I’ve been reading about Judaism lately as background for a thriller of my own. I haven’t heard of the concept of Torah codes before, or Bible codes for that matter, so now I have something new to go research. I’ve focused mostly on Kabbalah and the mystical side of Judaism. This sounds like an entirely different approach, and one I look forward to investigating.
Jan: I completely understand. Be sure to be on the lookout for a friend who can loan you a copy of The Torah Codes! 🙂
Aobibliophile: What a great library you have within you! Thank you for the recommendations. I’ll be sure to check them out. The book “The Bible Code” is intriguing, but doesn’t satisfy my scientific mind, because the “codes” he cites are ones that can be found in any book. A much more scientific approach (yet still easy to read) is Jeffrey Satinover’s nonfiction book “Cracking the Bible Code.” (I have an excerpt from his book as part of the appendix of The Torah Codes!) With proper science, the code can be proven to exist. The implication is that a fully prescient being wrote the Torah. You mention that nerves may account for not reading the book yet? I also had a strong reaction when I learned about the codes. There’s a lot of stuff in the Bible I disagree with and I’d rather do without. Who wants to believe that the Almighty wrote it? So while I’d rather think there’s nothing to the codes, to do so would be against my scientific way of thinking. I can believe all I want that the chair beneath me doesn’t exist, but it’s not going to change the fact that I’m sitting down. Anyhow, nerves, yeah, I know what you mean. 🙂
Your site is beautiful, by the way! I’d be honored to have you review my book. Everyone, you should check out Aobibliophile’s magnificent site! http://aobibliosphere.blogspot.com/
Kathryn: Reading your comment made me so happy! The whole purpose of my book is to raise awareness of the Torah codes in a fun, positive way. Reading how you became fascinated in the phenomena and look forward to investigating the Torah codes is just what the doctor ordered to warm my heart’s cockles.
JanPattersonRN is the winner for our first giveaway of the day! We’ll be sending you Ezra’s Sacred Seas album! Congratulations!
I love the candid give and take of the husband-and-wife interview! Wish we saw that kind of thing more often. I’m really looking forward to reading this book, Ezra!
Congrats, Ezra! I was at one of Beth’s writer group meetings when you were still plotting it out, if I’m not mistaken, so it’s great to see you finished it. 🙂 (and it’s a weird coincidence that I’m also finishing up my book this month, the same one I talked about at that meeting! Or…is it?) 😉
My question would be, why does it seem like the Jewish religion is more into numerology and coding in their sacred books than other religions? For example, some Christians may study the New Testament like crazy for signs of the oncoming apocalypse (or proof of Christ, etc.), but they don’t seem as into the coding stuff.
Congratulations on your book–I’m very interested in the mystical aspects of Judaism and have studied Kabala. One question: will your book be available on Kindle?
Ezra, congratulations on the publication of your book! It sounds intriguing, and I love the cover. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t attract and interest a lot of readers.
Ien: The first batch of books arrive by tomorrow. After tomorrow, I’ll send one out your way! Thanks for supporting me!
Dan: I remember you, Dan! Congrats on finishing your book. Let us know when it’s out so that we can let people know about it!
As to your question, my understanding is that when a group of mathematicians and scientists first published their Torah codes experiment in the peer reviewed journal Statistical Science (“Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis”), the Christians and Muslims began looking into their own holy texts for similar results. A good website for seeing the results of codes in the New Testament can be seen here: http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/codes.htm.
Generally, the difference between the Torah and the later holy texts is that the Torah is said to be communicated letter by letter directly from God whereas the rest of the texts are written by prophets, historians, or witnesses. While prophets may predict the future with words, it would be unlikely for prophets to waste their time encoding their prophecies inside a storyline. Believe me. In one chapter of my book I have an equidistant letter sequence encoding a phrase within the story. It wasn’t easy. 🙂
Suzanne: Thanks, Suzanne-I’ll be incorporating some kabbala in my sequel and yes, The Torah Codes will be available on Kindle in a few months.
Kay: Thanks so much, Kay! I had the honor of having Heather Smith design the cover of my book. She was great at taking my ideas and making them POP!
Great “couple” interview. I never saw the movie The Da Vinci Code but this sure made me want to run to Blockbuster and rent it! What I think is cool is that Ezra included the Appendix so that readers would know that what he’s writing has a base of truth. That was a great idea.
Drumroll please! According to random.org, our 4pm winner is…. Kathryn Scannell!
Congratulations Kathyrn! I will email you privately your prize: a copy of my recently released YA fantasy: Henrietta The Dragon Slayer!
Thank you everyone for your comments and questions! Keep ’em coming! I had fun doing our “couple” interview!
Yeah, the “couple” interview was a lot of fun. Beth already knew that the female protagonist was inspired by herself, but the character isn’t as sexy as my bride, though.
Thanks for appreciating the Appendix. Having an appendix of essays about the themes of a fictional book is not really something that’s been done before. Maybe it’ll catch on. 🙂
I happened upon this and find synchronicity in the timing of reading this review. I visited Jerusalem just a few weeks ago and visited my nephew, who studied at Aish HaTorah for several years and now lives in Jerusalem. I know I will read your book differently having just made that visit than I would have earlier. (I’ve written some about my Israel trip on my blog.)
It certainly sounds as if parts of the book were labor intensive (the character sequencing)! Congratulations on arriving at the print stage.
The Reflective Writer
Balance, Boundaries, and New Life Directions Through Writing
What a wonderful blog site you have. I love reading about your inner journeys and your invitations for others to write and reflect on similar experiences.
The Torah Codes is a great way to get introduced to the Bible codes because the book presents it in a suspense story context. By the end of the novel, readers curious to learn more about the codes have the appendix to check out.
Am i in a time warp? How can it be after six P.M. Am i in the wron part of the TORAH? cause it’s only 5:46 pm in the POINT!
I’m enjoying this in the present past & it’s PERFECT
Pops, Martin, Thanks for popping on! Love that!
The winner for for final giveaway of the day is … Dan Calvisi! Congratulations Dan! We will be mailing you a copy of THE TORAH CODES in the next few days! As soon as the UPS truck gets here!
Thanks again for everyone chiming in! Ezra and I had fun today sharing about his book!
Thank you, Everyone!
Please feel free to keep on posting your comments. I love reading them!
The Torah Codes sounds VERY interesting. Look forward to reading it.
Also like the video trailer on YouTube.
Thanks Robin! I had a great time putting the video trailer together years ago. In fact, I made it before I finished the book! I think it accurately conveys the suspense and coded fate the main character, Nathan, has to fight.
Good news! I’ll be on the “Spiritually Raw” radio show Tuesday at 9 am EST and 6 am PST announcing the release of THE TORAH CODES. Check it out here:
I’ll also be a guest blogger at three (so far!) book sites as part of a Virtual Book Tour. Check out Lyn’s Sci-Fi Romance blog site at http://hywelalyn.blogspot.com/ You’ll see a banner on the left announcing my Virtual Book Tour.
Oh, and by the way, THE BOOKS ARRIVED TODAY! I just got two boxes of THE TORAH CODES delivered.
Anyhow, I am so excited about all of this. Tomorrow I drop off a copy of the book to the Jewish Journal in San Francisco. They’d like to do an article on me. Also, as a former member of TEAMS/Americorp, TEAMS asked me to do a video interview and submit some pieces to their alumni newsletter.
Spreading the word is in the works! WHEEE! And a big thanks goes out to each of you who mention THE TORAH CODES to your friends. Every time you do that, a little warm fuzzy springs out of me and zeroes in on you.
How wonderful to wake up this morning to the news of your publication. I so enjoyed listening to your description of the story, now I get to read it. Thanx. I would like to purchase the book. Do I go to amazon or you? Congratulations. You have such a brilliant and imaginative mind I just know its going to be a great read.
Gramma, Thanks so much for stopping by! You can buy Ezra’s book on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Torah-Codes-Ezra-Barany/dp/0983296014. Hope you enjoy it! Hugs!
Thanx, Gramma. You’ve always been so supportive. Hope you enjoy it!