Bad Guys of the Bible by Dennis Gaunt
These bad guys are smart. You can be smarter. This entertaining book shows how knowing the enemy can help you be a righteous warrior in your own life. Any discussion of bad guys has to begin with “in the beginning.” From Genesis to Revelation, you’ll get the dirt on the dastardly deeds perpetrated by Bible characters ranging from the truly villainous to the temporarily wayward. Weaving together gospel truth and humor, Dennis Gaunt shows that you can’t have a great story without a great bad guy—and that by studying and knowing the mistakes that biblical bad guys made, we can avoid falling into similar perilous traps. This entertaining and inspiring book also wraps up each chapter with thoughtful questions that invite readers to ponder and apply in their own lives the spiritual lessons from these fascinating stories.
Author Dennis Gaunt
Dennis Guant has been an avid student of the scriptures for as long as he can remember. He studied history and English at the University of Utah. He taught seminary and institute in CES for a number of years, and currently serves as the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. He and his wife, Natalie, live in Sandy, Utah.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
A satellite phone, so I could call for help. And two extra fully charged batteries. Seriously, what good are my favorite books going to do me? I want off the island!
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Everyone always says “flying” for this answer, but they forget about the freezing cold temperatures at high altitudes, and swallowing bugs at lower altitudes. No thanks. I’d prefer something oddly specific, like being able to always have a good parking spot, or automatically moving to the front of any line at Disneyland.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I have a couple of other books in either the outlining/writing, or the “nebulous idea” stages. I also do speaking for youth groups, and will have a new talk on CD coming out in a few months. As much as I love writing, I love speaking to the youth even more. It’s so amazing to be in the presence of such amazing young people and to see their testimonies shine.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I came into writing almost by accident. I’ve read manuscripts for Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain for about fifteen years now, so I’ve had lots of exposure to what’s being written. For roughly the same amount of time, I’ve also taught seminary and institute, so I’ve seen how great the need is for inspirational books for the youth of the Church. I toyed with the idea of writing now and again, but usually dismissed those thoughts by telling myself that all the good ideas had been done. It wasn’t until I got the idea to write about the bad guys in the scriptures that everything changed for me, almost instantly.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
While I love my life right where I am, not a day goes by that I don’t miss living in New Zealand. Hands down, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, and the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I wish it were closer, or that it wasn’t so expensive to travel there. I get a serious case of homesickness whenever I watch Lord of the Rings, because I lived in the Shire for two years.
Most life-changing moment?
When I was 14, my dad “advised” me to enroll in seminary. Meaning, he signed me up for it, and I went kicking and screaming all the way. I was determined not to enjoy it…but I ended up loving it by the end of the first week. I can draw a straight line from going to seminary to every good thing that has happened in my life since.
How do you react to a bad review?
I generally never, ever read reviews of my books because the risk of running into a horrible review is too high. The Internet breeds cruelty, and anyone with an axe to grind for whatever reason can unload both barrels on you from the safety and privacy of their own home, and then never think twice about it again. Meanwhile, you’re left with all the damage and fallout. People really need to think carefully before posting anything online, because it’s there forever, and can keep on hurting others long after they’ve logged off.
That being said, my favorite “bad” review was from someone who simply said, “I had to stop reading this book. It was too much like church.” That one made me laugh.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a total word nerd. I love doing crossword puzzles, playing Scrabble, or most other word games I can find. I also do photography and play the guitar.
What’s your favorite season/weather?
Autumn, all the way. It’s cool enough that I don’t have to run the air conditioner anymore, but not so cold that I have to turn the furnace on yet, and I can turn off my sprinklers for the year. Apparently much of my happiness is linked to my utility bills. But let’s not discount the appeal of pumpkin [fill in the blank]. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies…it’s like a pumpkin nirvana out there this time of year. Pumpkin is the new bacon: it makes everything better.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
It was my Superbowl moment: I took my wife to Disneyland.
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
I’m a total sucker for Godzilla movies. They’re all basically the same: a guy in a rubber monster suit fighting another guy in a rubber monster suit in a miniature Tokyo with bad English overdubbing, but I don’t care. If there’s a Godzilla movie on, I’m watching it. (The one exception being the one with Matthew Broderick. Obviously.)
Favorite quote from a movie?
“We’ve got a blind date with destiny, and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster!” – Mystery Men
Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?
Instrumental music only. If there is any singing, I’ll get distracted and sing along. Especially if it’s Journey.
Something your readers would never guess about you.
I have a mild form of what’s known as “lexical synesthesia.” Basically, it means that I associate specific colors with certain letters, numbers, or musical tones. So much so, that I actually “see” some of these colors as plain as day. For instance, the letter J is purple, while the number 7 is deep forest green. A G major chord on my guitar is brown, while C is navy blue.
If you were on Death Row what would your last meal be?
A Monte Cristo sandwich, side of garlic pomme frittes, a glass of pomegranate lemonade, and beignets for dessert from the Blue Bayou in Disneyland. After that, go ahead and throw the switch, warden.
What’s your favorite word?
“Sesquipedalian.” It’s a Latin word that literally means “a foot and a half long.” Basically, a really long word to describe using really long words.
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I have to have a basic outline of where the book is going to go right from the start. That doesn’t mean that I have every single thing planned out, but it does mean that I at least start out thinking, “Okay, I’ll use this story in this chapter, and I’ll use this quote to illustrate this principle in that chapter…” and so on. Since writing is such an organic process, invariably I wind up changing things around. One of my favorite things to do is to find some amazing quote from one of the prophets or apostles, and then see where I can use it. Often, finding the perfect quote has meant rewriting an entire section of a chapter, but it always comes out stronger as a result.
What author do you love who doesn’t get a lot of hype?
I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy for myself, and A. Lee Martinez is one of my favorite authors that nobody else seems to know about. He writes some really great stuff that blends sci-fi, fantasy, and even horror with comedy.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Brigham Young said, “It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do.” Substitute the word “writing” for “praying,” and I think we’ve got some really good direction. Some writers think they have to wait for the mystical muse of writing to grace them with a visit before they can write. While I’m all in favor of those magical moments when everything seems to be clicking, I find that the muse doesn’t visit me very often of her own accord, but she’ll show up when she sees I’m working hard. Working through writer’s block is just that—work. Writing when you don’t feel like it is just clearing away the clutter.
About how long does it take to write a book?
I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, but when people ask me that, I usually respond, “My first book took my whole life, plus three months.” That is to say, while I banged out the actual manuscript in three months, I never could have done it if I hadn’t had a lifetime’s worth of prior experiences and learning. I think the same principle holds true for every writer, regardless of how long it takes to get the actual words on paper. Every moment of your life has led you to where you are now, and has prepared you to tell your particular story.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?
Does it make me sound bad if I say “royalty check day?” Seriously, though, as nice as royalties are, I love the first moment of spotting my new book “in the wild,” as it were—seeing it on the shelf at a bookstore, or even better, seeing someone I don’t know reading it.
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