Canaan Land (Author Interview)




Canaan Land looks like an exciting story.  Can you tell us a little about it? Canaan Land is the story of a con man preacher named Brother Billy, who fleeces the flock by performing fake miracles, like claiming to call down gold dust from the golden streets of Heaven.  He falls in love with a sincere Christian woman, an evangelist named Sister Sara Sunday.  Billy realizes his con game isn’t a game anymore.  I draw upon my own experiences and memories as a young man when I was involved in the world of televangelism and conducting large healing services.

There is a movie coming out, as well.  When is that being released and what can you tell us about it?  We finally got back to work yesterday editing the Canaan Land film.  We had a three month work delay due to the covid situation.  The film is coming out for the holidays this year, which is good timing because the story bookends at Christmas time.  In the beginning, Brother Billy is kicked out of the Beverly Hills mansion he is living in with his girlfriend.  She catches him cheating and is tired of supporting him.   He begs her not to kick him out at Christmas time, but she yells, “Out!”   Billy ends up homeless and jobless until he meets Sister Sara and sees her and her ministry as a Canaan Land,  which means a Promised Land, a chance at prosperity, one last con he can pull.  The end of the film is Christmastime a year later.  Sara has kicked him out after realizing he isn’t a true believer, just a fraud.  Billy, though agnostic, prays for one Christmas gift, to get his faith back again.

What inspired you when writing Canaan Land?  I’ve known a lot of sincere friends who have been taken by Christian con men.  The gold dust stunt Billy does in my novel, as far-fetched as it seems, has really happened. A church in California put gold glitter from a craft store into the HVAC system of their church building, and claimed it was a miracle.  Thousands flocked to them.  They charge gullible young adults $3000  a semester to attend their unaccredited school of “supernatural ministry” to learn to do miracles.  It is like a Christian Hogwarts.  I have a passion to get people to think critically, and realize they don’t need to look outside of themselves for guidance from the Brother Billys.   They can trust the still, small voice inside them.  The Bible says in 1 John 2:27 “The anointing of truth abides inside you, you don’t need to follow a man to teach and guide you.”  I was inspired by seeing these victims of religion to set the captives free and expose the faith healing tricks of the Brother Billys.  Televangelists have sent me nasty messages because they don’t like the tricks of the trade revealed.  I was also inspired by experiencing recovery from religion myself and reclaiming my life and my mind after years of indoctrination in the fundamentalist and evangelical world.  1 Timothy 1:5 says a healthy faith expresses itself in love and a sincere heart.   I was inspired by my experience in changing my worldview, changing my concept of God from an angry judge to a loving Heavenly Father.   My own journey from fundamentalism to freedom, from guilt to grace, gave me the inspiration to write the novel contrasting faith that hurts with faith that heals, the wheat versus the tares, the fake versus the true.   


What will readers get out of your book?  Readers will journey into a whole new world.  the story takes place in Hollywood.  California is the modern day Canaan Land where people since the Gold Rush seek their fortunes and reinvention.  They will not only enter the world of 21st century Los Angeles, and Pentecostalism, but a whole new place of colorful and eccentric characters including dancing clowns, plastic surgery divas, Me Too women, battling lady preachers, the miracle man, vigilant reporters and much more.  They will hopefully examine their own spiritual journey and be challenged to test the preachers they listen to and see if they really walk the talk. They will also learn compassion for all, even the narcissistic evangelist Brother Billy is given a shot at redemption.  We learn Billy is messed up due to abuse in his past.  He carries his own private burdens.

What motivated you to become a writer?  I have a burning passion to express myself to the world.  I first started writing in a notebook I carried as a boy.  To this day, I carry a notebook and write down my thoughts and feelings every day. It is a form of meditation, catharsis, and therapy for me. Writing helps me take my experiences and observations and make something out of them.

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Canaan Land We were 90% done with the Canaan Land film when the covid virus struck and we had to be sequestered for several months. I turned my attention to finishing the novel since we had to stop working on the film.  I had the challenge of finishing the novel working by myself which was different than working on the film which is a collaborative art form with a team of people. 

What do you like to do when not writing? Play guitar, write songs, play word games, watch vintage films and classic television shows. 

Where can readers find out more about your work?  There is a website for the Canaan Land film and novel which is canaanlandmovie.com  The Facebook page is facebook.com/canaanlandmovie  and the Twitter and Instagram is @canaanlandmovie  I have an author’s page at Amazon There is also a fan club site which is richardrossistore.com



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