Set amidst the dramatic Himalayan landscapes of Bhutan and the exotic land of India, Jeffrey Small’s debut novel The Breath of God, (West Hills, 2011) takes the reader on a journey through hidden mystical teachings, ancient cover-ups, religious fanatics, and power-hungry evangelicals who distort the truth for their agendas. RT Book Reviews raves that this suspense novel is a “meticulously researched, thought-provoking masterpiece filled with high adventure and intrigue.”
Graduate student Grant Matthews, the protagonist in The Breath of God, journeys to the Himalayas in search of an ancient legend that his academic colleagues believe is mere myth. He encounters photojournalist Kristin Misaki, and together they trek to the world’s grandest Islamic landmark, a sacred Hindu city, and the birthplace of Buddhism—all in a quest to unravel the true origins of Christianity. They never anticipate, however, the conspiracy of zealots who will go to any lengths to prevent them from making this ancient mystery public. Soon Grant and Kristin are in a race to expose a truth that could change the world’s understanding of religion, a race in which evil lurks at every turn. They soon realize that the mystical traditions they uncover have the power to transform their lives, if they survive.
In addition to hailing The Breath of God as “visionary fiction,” Library Journal recommends Jeffrey Small’s debut thriller to the legions of Dan Brown fans. When asked about the comparison, Small replies, “While Dan Brown does a masterful job of weaving his Biblical controversy into the plot device that drives The Da Vinci Code, my novel uses religious mystery to delve into the mystical and spiritual wisdom common to both the Eastern and Western religions. The historical legend that serves as basis of my plot is also a mechanism to take my characters on their own spiritual journeys, journeys which I hope are relevant and meaningful to any reader regardless of their religious beliefs. That being said, I’m honored to be compared to one of the best selling novelists in modern times!”
Small, a graduate of Yale, Harvard, and Oxford Universities, began his career as a corporate lawyer before embarking on a path that led him to run one of Atlanta’s largest real estate companies. Despite his professional success, he found something missing in his life. “I felt that I wasn’t utilizing the creative side of my brain fully,” Small says. “On particularly uninspiring days at work, I would jot down story ideas for books I would write one day. The problem was one day was always in the future. Then in late 2004, I had an epiphany. I realized that if I only planned to write, I never would actually do it. I started that day.”
In researching the historical and philosophical themes in The Breath of God, Small read over fifty books as background and then traveled through India and Bhutan, following the path that his characters would take. While abroad, he studied yoga, Indian philosophy (known as Vedanta), and meditation. “Every setting in the novel is a place I visited,” Small says. “I tried to capture the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells (especially the smells!) of these exotic locations so that they come alive for my readers.”
Despite his impressive resume, Small describes his six-year journey to publication as being the “most challenging yet rewarding accomplishment of my life.” Like many authors, Small had his share of rejection and difficulty. “I remember opening the email from the New York literary agency. The agency’s president wanted to represent me. I must have read it a hundred times. Now, all the hard work—the endless edits, the three hundred pages of discarded prose, the rewritten characters and chapters—not to mention the rejections from other agents, would pay off. Then the rejections from the major publishers started to arrive. The letters started off nicely. Many praised my writing, my themes, my characters, but no one wanted to take the book on for ‘marketing reasons.’ I was a victim of the imploding economy in 2009, and my genre had become overcrowded post Da Vinci Code. After six months of striking out with the top publishers, my agent and I parted ways. Depressed but determined, I rewrote the novel yet again and then through a friend was introduced to my current publisher, a small press of mostly non-fiction books. They loved my story and my themes and wanted others to discover the book too. When I went into a Barnes & Noble two months ago and first saw The Breath of God sitting on the New Releases table, I snatched my iPhone from my pocket and took pictures from every angle!”
In addition to writing fiction (he’s just finished the first-draft of his second novel), Small is a popular contributor to the Huffington Post and an acclaimed speaker. He enjoys talking to book clubs about his novel’s themes and the craft of writing fiction. He’s also a sought-after lecturer on the topic of how we think about religion in our modern, scientific, and multi-faith world. Through all of this, Small still runs his commercial real estate investment firm. How does he find time to write a novel? “Just as twelve step programs encourage their members to take one day at a time,” he says, “I sit down every day and begin by taking one page at a time. Day by day, the pages add up. I work my day job to pay the bills, I write to fulfill my soul.”
Author Jeffrey Small is a graduate of Yale, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University (MSt. Religion). He is a popular contributor to the Huffington Post and an acclaimed speaker of how we think about religion in a modern, scientific, and multi-faith world. Jeffrey is also the CEO and founder of an Atlanta-based real estate investment firm.
More information about Jeffrey Small and his debut novel, The Breath of God, can be found on his website.