Exclusive Interview: “The Son Of Abraham” Author Kathleen Kaufman

 

With The Son Of Abraham (hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audiobook), writer Kathleen Kaufman has decided to conclude the Diabhal saga she started in 2019 with Diabhal and continued in 2020 with Sinder. In the following email interview, Kaufman discusses what inspired and influenced this third and final chapter.

Kathleen Kaufman The Son Of Abraham Diabhal Sinder

I’d like to start with some background. What is the Diabhal series about, and when and where is it set?

The Diabhal trilogy is the story of an ancient deity reborn as a little girl living in Venice Beach, California in the 1980s. Ceit is the great-granddaughter of the leader of a cult that hails from old country Ireland. She lives in a cul de sac surrounded by the members of The Society, a matriarchal and aging group that is more a curiosity to the locals than a threat. When Ceit’s mother is attacked by the Sluagh, the restless souls of the dead, Ceit and her little brother Alan find their lives forever disrupted, Ceit ends up abandoned by her remaining family and community, Alan with his steadily disintegrating father. The trilogy follows Ceit’s evolution into her true self and as Book 2, Sinder opens, we see Ceit take her rightful place as head of The Society. Her journey in Sinder is a struggle to manage her human existence and her ever growing realization that her true throne lies beyond this realm.

Alan, however, struggles. A little boy in Diabhal, he is vulnerable and traumatized, and when we meet him as a young man in Sinder, Alan is at a crossroads. Will he give into his darker impulses, or take the freedom from The Society that Ceit tries to offer?

And then what is The Son Of Abraham about, and how does it connect to the second book, Sinder, both narratively and chronologically?

The Son Of Abraham picks up twenty years after the close of Sinder. Ten years prior, Alan Robertson was responsible for the almost complete destruction of Los Angeles at the hands of his followers, who call him The Son Of Abraham. His daughter Esther, the only member of Alan’s family to survive the attack is giving an interview to CBS’ star reporter, Cooper Carlson. She suffers from the weight of her family legacy, survivor’s guilt, and the responsibility she bears to make right what has occurred. During the interview, a horrific and seemingly natural disaster destroys strikes, and then another and another.

Alan Robertson sits in a federal prison cell, Esther and Cooper Carlson struggle to understand his connection to these horrors, and how his reach is exceeding his confinement. The story climaxes with Alan Robertson’s final assault on the waking world, his motivations and means something only one being could understand, his sister Ceit.

So, is there a reason why you decided Cooper Carlson works for CBS as opposed to CNN or Fox News or one of L.A.’s fine local networks?

Not particularly.

When in relation to writing the other Diabhal novels did you come up with the idea for The Son Of Abraham, and what inspired this third book’s plot?

I did not have the whole trilogy mapped out when I started Diabhal. I tend not to outline my stories and prefer to let them grow organically. I’m an editor’s nightmare. I’m also famous for my book pitches never lining up to the final product. But I’ve always found that I work best when my stories have room to breathe, and there’s nothing better than when my characters surprise me.

I had actually started The Son Of Abraham years ago. When I went to write Book 3, I had an idea that I wanted Alan to have sunk himself into his own cult, and this start of a story that I had written all those years ago kept popping into my head. Turns out I had written this book, in part anyhow, already. I just didn’t know what it was at the time.

I’m fascinated by the psychology of cults and cult leaders. What makes a seemingly ordinary person follow what we objectively gauge as dangerous, crazy, uncentered? Where does the magnetism that is ascribed to all cult leaders come from? Is it learned? Is it a result of some deeper psychosis?

It sounds like The Son Of Abraham is an occult fantasy story. Is that how you’d describe it?

Occult fantasy is an apt description. I think The Son Of Abraham touches other genres as well in terms of psychological horror, cult / crime thriller, and character study. Esther sits at the heart of The Son Of Abraham, a young woman who should not have survived a horrible tragedy and is now utterly alone in the world. It examines the grief, and the burden that many survivors carry and the lasting effect of violence and terror.

Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on The Son Of Abraham but not on any of the other Diabhal novels? Or, really, anything you’ve written?

I love the tone and style of anything Ruth Ware, the way she balances suspense, mystery, and plot is masterful. I had her style in mind while writing, and anytime I wondered what direction to go, I found myself looking back at any one of her books to see how she handled different twists and turns.

What about non-literary influences?

I was, not surprisingly, influenced by any number of sweeping disaster scenes from any number of disaster movies, the good and the bad. The sheer extent of destruction and how fast it can all happen has always haunted me.

I also read and watched quite a lot of true crime in the writing of this book, and the Netflix movie about Ted Bundy really stayed with me: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile. There’s a lot of Ted Bundy in Alan Robertson, his ability to be loyal to those he loved, and utterly evil to his victims is terrifying. The magnetism and self-possessed quality that he demonstrated is mirrored in Alan Robertson as well.

You’ve said that The Son Of Abraham is the conclusion to the story you started in Diabhal. Why did you decide to end it?

It ended itself really. I never thought it would go past three books, and the conclusion that ended up evolving in The Son Of Abraham wraps up this story but also the trilogy beautifully.

Upon hearing that The Son Of Abraham is the end of the Diabhal series, some people will decide to read all three books back-to-back. Do you think this is a good idea, or should people put some space between these books?

I’m just happy they’re reading to be honest. I think there’s no harm to be had by reading all three books back-to-back, and given that there are significant gaps of time between each book, some space would also work nicely.

Now, one of your other books, The Lairdbalor, is being made into a movie, with Nicholas Verso directing. In the interview we did about that novel, you said, “it would be my greatest desire to see Eddie Redmayne somehow involved.” Have you told Nicholas that you want Eddie for the movie?

They’re not quite at the casting state of movie development for Lairdbalor.

And has there been any interest, from Nicholas or someone else, in turning the Diabhal into some movies or even a TV series?

There are wheels in motion, but I cannot say more than that. I feel like Hollywood years are like dog years. 1 Hollywood year feels like 7 to us…so while I am assured that things are rolling along quite on schedule, it feels slow to us non-industry folk.

I really love the work that’s being done with streaming series, since the bulk of our movie intake has been limited to the home, I feel like streaming and limited series runs really fit that mold. I can absolutely see a world where a streaming series based on Diabhal would be a wonderful thing.

If that happened, who would you want them to cast in the main roles?

I had Tom Hiddleston and David Tennant in my head while I was writing Amon in all three books. I suppose Amon and Loki aren’t entirely different either.

Kathleen Kaufman The Son Of Abraham Diabhal Sinder

Finally, if someone enjoys Diabhal, Sinder, and The Son Of Abraham, which of your other books would you suggest they read next?

If one was looking for another Kathleen Kaufman book to read after this trilogy I would point them toward Hag. I love this one as I incorporated family folk stories and mythology within the story. It follows an ancient line of Scottish witches their roots in early Celtic history to modern day. It has a different feel than the Diabhal trilogy, but the reader will see the same ties to folklore and traditional beliefs.

 

 

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