If you read the words “Quin Hillyer” and “Jones” together in a sentence right now, you’d probably assume the well-known political pundit and essayist was pontificating on the upcoming senatorial clash between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. But these days, Hillyer is concentrating a bit more on a Jones of his own creation — “Mad Jones, Heretic.”
“Mad Jones” is Hillyer’s first work of fiction, and it has been recently published and is now available to the public. In the satirical novel, Hillyer invents a modern-day Martin Luther who posts a set of religious theses on Mobile church doors and quickly develops a national following. The novel hit the streets just a week before the 500th anniversary on Oct. 31 of Luther nailing his famed 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and giving birth to the Protestant Reformation.
Hillyer fell back upon his educational background and personal interests in Luther and religion in general.
“As a theology major in college, I wondered two things: What would happen if somebody nailed new religious theses to church doors today? And, how can people overcome anger at God when struck by tragedy?” he said.
Hillyer earned a degree in theology from Georgetown University, and his concentration within the major course of study was the series of Reformation-era debates between Luther and Erasmus and other Catholic Church leaders and academics on one side and Luther and even more radical reformer Protestants on the other.
So far “Mad Jones” is Hillyer’s only foray into the world of fiction. He said the whole process of writing and getting the book published took more than a decade and he was delighted to have it published with Liberty Island Media, the imprint of longtime publisher Adam Bellow. Bellow is the son of Saul Bellow, the only American ever to win both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes for literature.
One of the things tackled in the story is the rapid nature of fame in the modern world, driven by technology and social media. As someone whose career has included writing opinion and editorials for the Press-Register, working as an editor for the National Review and American Spectator, as well as writing for more than 50 other publications, Hillyer is in tune with the major changes taking place in media today.
“I set up a scenario, so common today, of instant fame driven by modern mass communications, and of politicians and media all jumping into the fray without really knowing what they are talking about,” Hillyer said. “It lets me do satire on modern media, politics and religion, all at the same time — with some subplots involving, separately, race and sexual morality, too.”
Hillyer will be having a reading/book signing at Page & Palette book store in Fairhope Thursday, Nov. 9, 6-7 p.m.