Tyler: Welcome, Joseph. It’s a pleasure to meet you. To begin, will you tell us a little about the basic premise of “Enoch’s Device”?
Joseph: It’s about two Irish monks, Brother Ciarán and his mentor, Brother Dónall, who are trying to prevent the apocalypse at the end of the Tenth Century. Their quest is driven by a cryptic prophecy that speaks to the End of Days and an artifact called Enoch’s device, which might have the power to prevent the apocalypse. Their journey leads them to a French village whose deceased lord and widowed lady have some mysterious connection to the device. There, they end up rescuing the lady Alais from a heretic hunting bishop, but are pursued by the bishop and seemingly supernatural forces as they race across Europe to locate the device before it’s too late.
* * *
Tyler: Are you able to tell us just what the device is, or is that part of the mystery?
Joseph: I can’t say too much without revealing some huge spoilers, but one of the novel’s central mysteries centers around the questions: what is Enoch’s device? And where is it? Early on in the story, it’s revealed that the device is an ancient weapon with the power to prevent the apocalypse. The device has left clues of its passage through history, yet discovering exactly what the device is, and how it has influenced history, is a puzzle that both the characters and the reader must solve.
Tyler: Why the name Enoch? Who is Enoch in your story?
Joseph: Enoch is a reference to the biblical Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. He is also the namesake of the Book of Enoch, an apocryphal text that features prominently in the novel. In fact, buried in that text is a reference to Enoch’s device. The Book of Enoch was actually well known to first-century Jews, but then it all but disappeared for more than a thousand years until it was rediscovered in 1773 by the Scottish explorer James Bruce during his travels in Ethiopia. Incidentally, a copy of the Book of Enoch was also discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Tyler: For readers who may not know, can you tell us what is significant about Enoch in the Bible, and also, what is significant about the Book of Enoch?
Joseph: In the Bible, Enoch is very close to God. The book of Genesis says that Enoch walked with God until God took him, which many believe means that Enoch never died and was literally carried to heaven. The significance of the Book of Enoch is that it tells the whole story behind Genesis 6:1-4, where the “Sons of God”—who were angels—saw that the “daughters of men” were fair and took them as wives on earth, giving rise to the race of Nephilim. These events lead to the wickedness that convinces God to use the Great Flood to wipe out creation. The Book of Enoch goes into far more detail, explaining how the fallen angels taught men sorcery and revealed to them the eternal secrets before God dispatched the archangels Michael, Uriel, and Raphael to deal with the problem.
* * *
Tyler: The story takes place largely in Ireland and France. Why did you choose those countries as your setting?
Joseph: A good number of my ancestors were Irish, so when it came time to find a home for my two heroic monks, Ireland was the natural fit. Also, in doing research for the book, I read Thomas Cahill’s “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” which further inspired me to make the two heroes of the novel Irish. As for France, a lot of the mysteries in the novel, including the cryptic prophecy, involve the writings of one of the paladins of Charlemagne named Maugis d’Aygremont. As a result, a good deal of the adventure takes place in France, but there’s also a portion of the novel set in Moorish Spain, so I’ve always viewed the characters’ journey as spanning much of Western Europe.
Tyler: Can you tell us more about Maugis d’Aygremont? Are his writings real or did you make them up?
Joseph: Maugis d’Aygremont was one of the legendary paladins of Charlemagne, although I’ve not seen any evidence from the eighth or ninth centuries that he actually existed. That said, he is a major character in the French “chansons de geste” written in the twelfth century. In those stories he’s like a younger version of Merlin, although he’s also a belted knight who adventures alongside Roland and the other paladins. So Maugis, like most of the paladins of Charlemagne, is similar to one of the Knights of the Round Table. He is historical in a legendary sense, but may not have been real. As for Maugis’ writings, the “chansons de geste” are filled with references to his book of spells, which, according to one story, he learned from a Fae (or fairy) named Orionde. This spellbook inspired the Book of Maugis d’Aygremont in “Enoch’s Device.”
Tyler: What can you tell us about the fairies in the novel without giving away too much?
Joseph: In the novel they’re called the Fae and they are the same mysterious figures from many of the Celtic legends. The twist is that in “Enoch’s Device” these beings are actually fallen angels who received clemency following the war in heaven and were allowed to remain on earth instead of being imprisoned in the underworld. The story of these fallen angels is a central topic of the Book of Enoch and is even hinted at in the Book of Genesis. One of the monks in “Enoch’s Device” theorizes that this story became the origin of various legends and myths about the Fae and the pagan gods. The Fae of “Enoch’s Device” have largely faded from the world, but they left behind some of their arcane secrets and entrusted a few of them to the paladins of Charlemagne.