Friday, November 12, 2010

Nailed: David Fitzgerald talks about religion, getting published, and the whole enchilada

Today's guest speaker is David Fitzgerald, a friend of many of the pens and to writers throughout the Bay Area through his work with Sisters in Crime. He spoke to the Pens about writing the book, getting published, and his thoughts on history and religion.

Hi David, and welcome to the Pens! First off, many congratulations on your new book.

Before we get into the meat of it, I’d be interested in hearing about your path to publication. How did you get this tome written, edited, and published?

DF: Thanks - I’m a big fan of the Pens Fatales femmes, so it’s a real treat to be here. You know, I never actually set out to write an exposé on Jesus (let alone devote ten years of my life to it!) and it was a very, very twisted path from inspiration to completion.

One day I began wondering what Jesus really said and did, and how much was just legendary baggage added later. I started researching, and quickly became convinced that the official story just didn’t add up. In fact, now I don’t see how there even could have been a Jesus of Nazareth.

Needless to say, this just blew my mind. I started telling people about it, and a friend asked me to speak to his atheist group. That talk became a multimedia presentation that I‘ve since given all around the country, The Ten Thousand Christs and the Evaporating Jesus. Audiences loved it, and everyone began asking, “When’s the book coming out?”

I spent the next few years writing what I thought would be the final word on the subject, which grew into a 700+ page behemoth. Meanwhile, I attracted the attention of an agent, who came out of retirement to shop it around New York. A couple editors were interested, but ultimately the book didn’t survive the in-house acquisition fights. My agent suggested I break it up into a trilogy, which I did, and then approached smaller publishers. Again, three smaller presses were interested, but all were over-contracted. After a couple years of this, my agent sadly said she had done all she could.

Then I was contacted by one of the interested publishers, who told me about a writing contest being sponsored by a consortium of secular New Testament scholars. I took my monster of a book and distilled it down to a 100-page essay called Ten Beautiful Lies About Jesus. The essay attracted a lot of positive attention from historians, and I took their feedback, made corrections, added even more material and made a brand new book: NAILED: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All.

I had refused self-publishing for years; nothing says “crackpot” like a self-published history book. But now that I had glowing reviews from all these preeminent historians, suddenly it made a lot more sense to self-publish! So with the heroic help of proofreaders and fact-checkers, I published this summer through Lulu. Woo Hoo! I’m a published non-fiction author!

In addition to non-fiction, you also write fiction, right? Tell us a little about your fiction, and some of the differences in how you write/market/publish in different genres.

DF: Yes, ironically enough, while I was waiting to hear from publishers on my Biblical History epic, my girlfriend secretly sent a sexy story of mine to her publisher. They liked the way I write, and I got in several anthologies and even wrote a novel that also came out this summer, and they want me to write another novel asap – I’ve created a monster. So yes, I’m a biblical historian AND erotica writer! It’s a funny old world…

I know you’ve been interested in the subject of Nailed for some time, and you’ve lectured quite a bit. Did those lectures morph into the book, or vice versa? And how did interactions with audiences –both skeptical and supportive—influence the final product?

DF: It’s been an interesting evolution. The arguments keep going through the crucible and a lot of early ideas and arguments failed the reality check. But the ones that hold up have become really strong as a result. Twice I’ve had historians in the audience stand up after my talk and announced that I’ve changed their minds! It’s very humbling and gratifying.

You’re a friendly, easy-going guy. I would imagine that your writing angers a lot of people. Why do you feel compelled to put yourself out there like that?

DF: I’ve been an atheist activist for half my life now, so I don’t mind going out on a limb. Growing up, I was a very devout Christian, so I have a lot of sympathy for believers, and I think that comes across in person.

Why is this subject so near and dear to your heart?

DF: The idea that there was no Jesus shocked me so much, I’m still reeling after ten years. It fascinates and amazes me to see how this huge enchilada called Christianity came about, and I have no doubt that its origins are even wiggier and convoluted than any of us will ever know!

Thank you for joining us today on the Pens!

Writer and public speaker David Fitzgerald has been called “The Ferris Beuller of San Francisco.” He is Event Coordinator of Sisters in Crime–NorCal, and serves on the board of San Francisco Atheists and Center for Inquiry-SF. He is the founder and director of the world’s first Atheist Film Festival and San Francisco’s oldest annual Darwin Day celebration, Evolutionpalooza! He writes erotica under the name Kilt Kilpatrick as well as biblical history. His newest book is NAILED: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All.

Want to know more about the book? Visit David Fitzgerald's Facebook page!


Rachael Herron said...

Great post, and thanks for being with us today! I gotta say, I love your title. I'd pick that up in the bookstore, on the title alone. Sounds fascinating!

Juliet Blackwell said...

HI David, thanks for stopping by the Pens! I agree with Rachael, you really nailed it with that title ;-)

Lisa Hughey said...

Thanks for visiting the Pens today! I'm with Rachael and Juliet, LOVE the title. I love the dichotomy of your writing life. Congrats to both sides of your career. :)

L.G.C. Smith said...

Hey there, David. Welcome to Pens World. I predict an interesting time ahead for you once Fox News and company catch wind of your book. Which they will, because, as Rachael and Julie noted, that's a title that screams "Read me NOW!"

Dana Fredsti said...

I've congratulated you before, but I'm gonna do so again. Not only for the book's publication, but for doing a guest post on Pens Fatales!

Coming from the Southern Baptist background that you do, I wonder which of your genres would upset your mom more... the erotica or the 'there is no Jesus.'

Dave Fitzgerald said...

Thanks, all! Yeah, after having a title like "The Ten Thousand Christs and the Evaporating Jesus" (a.k.a. "you know, that Disappearing Jesus talk or whatever it's called")I really had to make this one concise - kudos to my friend Brooke who thought it up.

Btw, I'm really honored to appear hear; I adore the pens I already know and it's so nice to get a chance to meet the rest of you!

And remember that sneaky girlfriend of mine who sent in the sexy story and lured me into the wicked world of erotica writing? It's Dana Fredsti!

Mysti said...

Looking forward to reading this. We were taught as kids that all religions were myths similar to Santa Clause (that's right, we never got to believe in Santa Clause either). While it's made me the laziest atheist on earth, it's definitely fueled my hunger for fiction :)

Thanks for sharing and good luck on all your paths, David!

Anonymous said...

My rebuttal to your “10 reasons Jesus Christ did not exist is the following argument. May to seek and find. Good luck and God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Ty this one on for size -

For the next 60 seconds, set aside whatever
you're doing and take this opportunity!
Let's see if Satan can stop this...


At the age of 33,
Jesus was condemned to the death penalty.

At the time crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus, for unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion Jesus was nailed to the cross by His hands and feet, rather than tied...

Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.

The nails were driven into His wrist. Not
into His palms as is commonly
portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that
extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew
that when the nails were being hammered into the
Wrist, that tendon would tear and
break, forcing Jesus to use His back
muscles to support himself, so that He could breathe.

Both of His feet
were nailed together. Thus He was forced to
support Himself on the single nail that
impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could
not support himself with His legs for long because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His
back and using his legs just to continue to
breath. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the
suffering, the courage.

Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.

Yes, over 3 hours! Can you imagine this kind of
suffering? A few minutes before He died,
Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water
from his wounds.

From common images we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side...But do we remember the many wounds
made to his body. A hammer driving large nails through the wrists, the feet overlapped and a nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. And.... before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore the
flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His
face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The
crown of thorns (two to three inch thorns) cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not have survived this torture.


He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His
wounds. The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters
(just less than a gallon) of blood.

Jesus poured all 3.5 liters of his blood;
He had three nails hammered into His
body; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond
that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His

All these without mentioning the humiliation He passed after carrying His own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones (the cross beam was almost 30 kg of weight, to which His hands were nailed).

Jesus had to endure this experience,
so that you may have free access to God.

So that your sins can be "washed" away.
All of them, with no exception!
Don't ignore this.


For you, who now read this e-mail.
Do not believe that He only died for others
(those who go to church or for pastors, bishops, etc).

He died for you!It is easy to e-mail jokes or silly photos,
but when it comes to God,sometimes we feel ashamed to forward a message about Him on to others. We are worried of what they “may think.”

Accept the reality, the truth, that

God has special plans for YOU! Share this with all your friends...
about what He went through to save you. Really think about it!

May God bless you!

For the next 60 seconds,
set aside what you're doing and take
this opportunity! Let's see if Satan can stop this.

Anonymous said...

I knew David growing up and I can tell you, he was never a devout Christian. He was into Dungeons and Dragons all thru high school. Hardly something a devout Christian would do. Soon after high school he denounced Christianity all together. So half his life? Hardly. It's sad to see David living this life. What does he get out of this? I guess money.

Anonymous said...

I am apalled that Dana would wonder which would upset David's mother most the erotica or the atheism... How disrespectful of someone who bore you and raised you. That is such a dark view and can only be judged as the mind of Satan. I feel sorry for you both. Your parents are wonderful people and do not warrent the disrespect of this child. I pray for you!!! I pray that GOD will bring you to your knees and that you will turn from the sin that is definitely on the road to permanent death.

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