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Starway to Heaven:
Interview with Francis T. Perry Williams

By Carin Chea

Francis Perry Williams is not a theologian, nor is he a die-hard proselytizer. What he does possess, however, is never-ending imagination and curiosity, which, as you know, keeps you young.

It also makes you a prolific writer. An actor by trade and training, Williams has met and worked with Hollywood’s top actors and directors, and has even personally trained a few in between.

Nowadays, you can find the actor-turned-fiction writer in a cloud of thought, conversing silently with his most recent protagonists.

His newest novel, a religious science-fiction thriller named Saving Christ: Starway Seven, is literally in a category of its own. Da Vinci Code, get ready to meet your competition.

Saving Christ: Starway Seven by Francis T. Perry Williams

You have a degree in drama, and you’ve also appeared on TV. How did you get into writing, and what are you up to these days?

I used to be a trainer at Gold’s Gym in Venice for decades. I started writing and directing during college at San Diego State University.

Oh, the original Gold’s Gym!

That’s right, the original. I used to train Bruce Jenner, Jodie Foster, professional football players (Raiders) and many others.

Do you still do that now?

No, now I’m way in the boondocks, in Idaho, though I still go to the gym quite often, in fact, every day.

I was acting on shows like Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, The Jeffersons, Bosom Buddies, Laverne and Shirley. I even wrote an episode of Laverne and Shirley.

Oh my gosh, I used to watch those shows! Was Ron Howard cool?!

Ron Howard, the Fonz - those guys were so pleasant. Tom Hanks was also wonderful. That’s how I got started in training, you know. They asked me to take Tom to the gym at Paramount Studios and work him out. Instead of being an actor, I turned into a trainer. He was the consummate gentleman.

After high school, I joined the service and I went to Vietnam for a year. After that, I used the GI bill to go to college. In college during my second year, they needed big people in a play to be Roman soldiers. I was in the play because I was told I’d get an A in the class. That’s where I started writing and acting.

I was in heaven because they produced everything I wrote. I got well-known very quickly. One of my works was even filmed in the film department. It was a thrill to see everything you wrote come to life.

Tell us about your latest book, Saving Christ: Starway Seven. I have so many questions. What inspired you to write this?

I was cleaning my desk out one day and I came across a National Geographic book. On the cover was a pic of Jesus that read, “The Real Jesus.” I asked myself, “Who was the real Jesus?” Ever since then, I started to research and see what kind of person he truly was and if you could actually meet him what would he be like.

So, after 6 months of intense research, I started writing and I did 114,000 words in 3 months. It was almost like it was already written and I just put down the words.

When I do certain things, I get locked into it and my mind won’t let me do anything else. I wanted a whole new and modern telling of The greatest story ever told.

Francis T. Perry Williams

Are you a Christian?

Even though my book is about Jesus and the Bible, I’m not overly religious. I do think Jesus was the most important person to ever live on planet Earth because of his profound teachings.

The category of this book falls into religious science fiction. I wanted readers to know Jesus as an everyday person. Someone you could relate to.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across that before.

It’s because it’s never been done. People ask me, how did I ever think of such a concept and I tell them one day it just appeared and it took me over, I was helpless.

My book shows Jesus from the point of view of a modern-day woman. It shows the real Jesus, who had a sense of humor, who had a life. And, he was a human who had desires, and by that I meant desire to do good and to teach people to be better to them and to others.

In my book, there’s no sex and no cursing, but there is violence. I wanted to show a modern version of Jesus and I did just that.

What happens in Saving Christ: Starway 7?

The time machine used in this book is called Starway 7. Back in Jesus’ time, the only way you could tell time was by the position of the stars. There was no clock.

Jennifer gets to be with Jesus for the last seven days of his life and she will not let Jesus know she is from the future. He thinks she is from a far away strange land. Jesus in my book even thinks that Jennifer was sent by his father to help him during the last days.

Why is the book called Saving Christ though?

The main character is Jennifer, a 29-year-old FBI agent. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, a fighter, and she is a virgin. The President sends a team of 5 people (including her) to go back in time.

One person has been ordered to kill Jesus before he gets on the cross. Months back, the President’s son was killed in a car crash, and ever since then he’d had a vendetta against God.

Jennifer doesn’t know about this assassination plan. When she does find out, she realizes she has to save Jesus. She has to save Jesus from being murdered only to see him die on the cross. It’s a tragedy of magnitude. Bigger even than Romeo and Juliet.

The love that you speak of in this book, is it brother/sisterly love that Christians have for Jesus, or is it romantic?

Both, but more on the side of romantic love. When Jesus sees Jennifer, he sees something he has never seen before, different and amazing all in one. It was instant love when he met her.

Jennifer has never had a relationship in her life and was always hoping for that one person. No one was ever good enough for Jennifer until she met Jesus.

Jennifer’s love for Jesus is so strong she would gladly die for him. At the end of the book, she tries to save Jesus, but God won’t let her. Everything in the Bible stays the same, except you see it from the perspective of a modern-day woman, which allows you to get to know Jesus as a human.

What do you want your readers to get out of your book?

No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, if you know Jesus, you know love. Whether you're religious or not, my book tries to show that love. I think people need to see the goodness of Jesus.

Who would play Jesus and Jennifer if Saving Christ were made into a mini-series?

This was custom-made to be made into a movie. Remember The Passion of Christ? It made almost a billion dollars. Something like this would be even a bigger draw.

I would want all new actors. Jesus would have to be more like Austin Butler who played Elvis. As for Jennifer – she has to be young-ish. I want a new actress, someone you’ve never seen before, and someone who’s exotic-looking. The best comparison would be Florence Pugh.

The book was originally written as a screenplay. I had the editor change it into book form. I think in screenplay. I’ve written about 6 screenplays in my lifetime. My desire is to still see them performed by actors.

Are there any projects you’d like us to know about?

I’m currently working on a sequel to Saving Christ, and it’s called Saving the Messiah: Starway Seven.

At the end of Saving Christ, Jennifer goes into a church because she’s so sad and she wants to be close to Jesus. In this church, three nuns approach her and say, “You’re the most beautiful pregnant woman I’ve seen.”

This is news to Jennifer because she’s still a virgin. But, she realizes: If it [the immaculate conception] happened once, it could happen again.

A lot of people say they have something that’s different, but this really is something different. I had one reviewer call it “a little miracle of a novel.”

Another reviewer, who’s read hundreds of religious novels, told me she had never read anything like my book.

I want readers to get a new and different version of Jesus but still keep the same original love. Thank you.

For more information and to receive updates, please visit http://JCTimeTravel.com.

Hollywood, CA

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