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Religion mixes with thrills in local author’s trio of books

Hoping to break into the niche writing market of Christian thrillers, local author Dean Klein has three books already under his belt – works he says that were inspired by movies such as “Poltergeist,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the “Harry Potter” series.
Even though he drew his ideas for Hell’s Shadows, King of the Nine Hells and The Amulet from those movies, make no mistake about it, Klein says his books certainly aren’t the movies “rehashed.”
Instead, Klein says, his stories are commercial fiction that ranges from “eerie, to spooky to dangerous to a let’s-get-the-hell-out-of-here kind of scary.”
Klein’s resume doesn’t sound like that of a typical writer. With degrees in chemistry and biology, one would think writing would be the least of his interests.
But Klein, who grew up in New Jersey and worked for many years as a technical marketing director and consultant, says he has always enjoyed writing.
“Every job I’ve ever had has involved a great deal of writing,” Klein said.
Now that he is retired, Klein is devoting most of his time to crafting these Christian thrillers he hopes will one day be on everyone’s bookshelves.
Klein moved to Jonesborough with his wife, Diana, to be closer to family. It is a place where he has been able to continue to develop as a writer.
“These books are meant to stir emotions and heighten the senses,” he said. “I want these books to allow the reader to feel their emotions tingling, to become totally absorbed and frightened. I want them to say, ‘I loved it. I couldn’t stop reading.’”
He has been encouraged by several good reviews from readers, but the most exciting response came last year from a top executive from a movie production company.
Klein said he received a call from Simon Swart, the executive vice president of production at 20th Century Fox.
“He called me at the house last year to tell me he had just read The Amulet on Kindle and that he liked it so much he had sent it on to their creative development group for consideration for a future movie,” Klein said. “I was thrilled. It was the most thrilling phone call of my life.”
Klein said the two discussed what it would take to make the book into a major motion picture and agreed it would require a large budget.
“This isn’t your average faith-based novel,” Klein said. “We discussed it taking a $200 million budget. This would be a major deal to make.”
The idea for The Amulet came to Klein in 1995, he said, but he didn’t start working on it until 2004. It took him four years to complete the book once he started.
The three-part Christian thriller begins in 1947 with the archeological discovery of a relic that appears unaffected by time. The relic, which appears to exhibit supernatural properties, has a hold on main character Emanuel Tov, who embarks on a daunting mission to learn more about the relic and of an impossible destiny set for him 2,000 years ago.
“If you took away the chase, the snakes, the ruins, all the tinsel presented to you during ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ what you had was a search for a Biblical relic — the Ark of the Covenant,” Klein said. “It was an adventure story that led to God. But in The Amulet, it is a search that leads to Christ.”
Another of Klein’s books, Hell’s Shadows was written primarily for women.
“Women buy 80 percent of all the books sold,” Klein said. “By and large, I thought if I’m going to write this story, I will write it to appeal to women. Many of the key characters are women. If you’re a woman, you’ll bond with the story even if it does spook you a bit.”
The story, influenced by “Poltergeist,” centers on a haunted house built on a graveyard, a house “so dangerous that nearly an entire police force is wiped out by the creatures within it.”
There are several big twists in the story, he said.
Klein’s book King of Nine Hells was inspired by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, he said.
“But unlike that story, this one isn’t for kids,” Klein noted. “The thing a lot of people don’t like about Potter is that it pits modern good against ancient evil. In this book, there is a force for good, which wasn’t in Potter – something that caused a lot of people to think it was glorifying evil.”
King of Nine Hells begins when a gravedigger of the Dark Ages assembles a “grotesque” book titled, Curse of the Sorcerer. Centuries later, the book is stolen, but the thief has no idea that it is possessed.
The story’s main character, Dr. Peter Ashford, an Oxford University theologian, realizes the book must be destroyed. But before that can happen, it disappears.
His frantic search is filled with peril as he races to prevent a satanic Armageddon.
Already working on his fourth book, The Jerusalem Stone, Klein is hopeful his books will one day become more widely read. For right now, he is encouraged that all of his works are available on Amazon and Kindle.
The Amulet will also soon be available in the bookstore at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Johnson City and it is being sent to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Knoxville. A synopsis of the story is also being sent to Catholic publications nationwide.
But the story isn’t just for Catholics, Klein said.
“Any Christian would like this,” he noted. “It’s non-denominational.”