Ezra Barany – The Torah Codes

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The Torah Codes is a Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code. What would you do if you found your name encoded in the Bible? It’s not just fiction. It’s a proven reality. The names of important figures who shape history are encoded in the ancient scriptures. In my story, a reclusive computer programmer finds his name encoded in the Bible and is stalked by a secret society bent on having him fulfill a dangerous prophecy. It ruins his whole day.

Tell us something about yourself.

I grew up in a conservative home while attending an orthodox grammar school in Oakland, CA. I’ve been fascinated by codes and puzzles ever since I watched Ellery Queen TV shows and Agatha Christie movies as a kid. As a lover of vampires and werewolves, I used to write psychological horror stories that successfully kept my readers up at night, but I switched to suspense and thriller stories in college.

The Torah Codes is my first novel. I’ve been a high school physics teacher, fiction writing teacher, songwriting teacher, ESL teacher to French children and pop performer. In my free time, I write mushy love songs inspired by my wife and book coach Beth Barany.

What inspired you to write this book?

I became interested in and frightened by the Bible codes while attending Aish HaTorah’s Discovery seminar in Jerusalem. Frightened because who the hell wants proof that G-d wrote the Bible?! There’s so much crap in the Bible I disagree with, the last thing I wanted to learn was that there’s solid evidence showing the author of the Torah must be an all-knowing entity.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

You know, I never even bothered trying to get an agent for my book. I knew there were too many unconventional parts to it. The most unique part of my book is that it has an appendix by rabbis, physicists, and doctors who address the themes in my book. Specifically, the Bible codes and the Shekinah, the female aspect of G-d. I thought most publishers wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot penis, or however that idiom goes. So I self-published.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As a child I said, “Hey Mom! Dad! You always surround yourself with books! What’s a guy gotta do to get a little attention around here, huh?”

Do you have any writing rituals?

I always check to see if I’m sitting in a seat that flushes. If I’m not, then I start writing.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Step one: I call random people, say I’m with the census bureau, and ask them for their name, favorite subject in high school, and shoe size. Step two: I go on Kickstarter.com and offer to make the name of my character be decided by anyone who contributes $500 or more to the publishing costs. I often skip step one, though.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’d be more prepared with the book launch. I’d focus on creating so much buzz that the pre-sales would be triple the average monthly sale. I ended up selling about a hundred instead of several hundred copies. Oh well. I hope to rectify that by doing a special launch of the e-book version. :)

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

Lee Child is by far my favorite author. He’s one of those writers that makes a scene enjoyable even if nothing happens.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

My next book is the sequel to The Torah Codes. Imagine if a brilliant mind becomes so paranoid that he trains himself in spy tactics and self defense. And imagine if someone double-crosses him. It’s a Jewish version of The Bourne Identity. :)

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Self-publish. These days, the best marketer for your book will be you, not a traditional publisher. A lot of today’s traditional publishers will expect you to provide the time and money needed to make the sales. If you’re going to market your book, why not keep the profits? Why not keep control of your book? Why not get your book out there now rather than wait for the publishers and agents to give you permission? Why not eat chocolate right now? Chocolate! What a great idea! Thanks! You’re Welcome.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

If you liked the storyline of “The Da Vinci Code,” you will have a blast reading my thriller.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Check out the 4 and 5-star reviews at Amazon.com and read the first chapter free at http://www.facebook.com/TheTorahCodes.