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Origins of a thriller

November 1, 2014, I found myself in a freak snowstorm on my way from Nashville, TN to Raleigh, NC. I was stuck inside a tunnel in North Carolina for over six hours. After giving up hope that traffic would be moving anytime soon, I started looking around my car for ways to entertain myself.

I pulled out my computer and began searching for any saved movies or television shows. I found one. It was a documentary on Nostradamus. I began watching and after a few minutes an idea hit me like a bolt of lightning. What if Nostradamus’ predictions had not come true by happenstance? What if there were some secret society that made sure his predictions came true.

I grabbed a sheet of paper and began feverishly fleshing out the idea. In short order I had the summary for what became The First Face of Janus. The characters seemed to leap from my fingers onto the page. The wild imaginings of this secret society and their tentacles into all sectors of society consumed me.

Then came the rival organization, the Custos Verbi, a secret society within the Catholic Church. The natural enemy of Nostradamus’ predictions during his lifetime was the Catholic Church. It was, admittedly, a dark time for the Church. There was the Inquisition and the burning of heretics. The assumption by some—especially Catholics—is this is going to be another Dan Brown type of Catholic-bashing piece of propaganda. I ask you to reserve judgement until you’ve read the book. Like the Catholic Church—and like Western Civilization as a whole—the Custos Verbi evolves over the years.

The lines of good and evil are blurred in The First Face of Janus, as they sometimes are in real life. One could say that it stretches the limits of credulity to believe some organization exists merely to fulfill the prophecies of a prognosticator who’s been dead nearly 500 years, but zealotry has, historically, had far less motivation.

Motivation is an underlying theme of this novel. What not only drives a determined group like The First Face of Janus, but what drives a writer, at a low point in his career, to risk everything to try and stop them?

This adventure will take you from New York City to Montreal to Provence in the South of France and on to sun-drenched Mediterranean Spain. The clock is ticking. The next prophecy has begun. And there’s only one man who can stop The First Face of Janus.


Phil Valentine is an award-winning talk show host, screenwriter, and documentary producer. His radio show is syndicated with Westwood One.

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