Adventure novel series provides road to recovery
Spenser Li/Special to The Gazette
Jonathan Panczyk knows what it's like to write his way out of being down and out. Before starting his first novel, he hit a low point.
In 2004, Panczyk was injured on the job, lost that job, lost his home, had to give up his motorcycle, broke up with his girlfriend and battled the resulting depression. Through these struggles, though, he discovered his passion for writing.
"It's amazing how life has to take you way down before God gets your attention," he says.
Out of work, on disability and battling chronic neck pain, Panczyk turned his attention to writing, and did it with gusto.
"Ten p.m. I put a pot of coffee on, and I don't come out of the basement until about 8 a.m. the next morning," he says of his writing regimen.
The fruit of his labor is the adventure novel "Matthew Texas in: The Search for the Four Nails," in which the title character an astronaut who works on a secret surveillance satellite. While in space, he survives an attempt on his life, then returns to Earth to find himself, inexplicably, in a psych ward where he meets Starr, his OxyContin-addicted love interest. The two set out to uncover the source of an unusual glimmer off the coast of Australia that Matthew saw in space.
What ensues is a plot filled with conspiracies to control the world, world war and trips all over the globe to find the nails that were used to crucify Jesus and secure the sign on the cross that proclaimed him king of the Jews.
The book is part love story, part science fiction, part thriller and all adventure.
While Panczyk acknowledges Christian themes, he insists he is not interested in pushing his faith on anyone. Rather, he says, his book has a polite message about the importance of developing a conscience, which is just what his characters do.
The story is told in first person, and is packed with extensive asides that address everything from why the expression "making a complete 360" doesn't make sense (if you turn 360 degrees, you end up where you started) to how he suspects some fast food burgers are made out of horse meat.
"I'm blessed with A.D.D. [Attention Deficit Disorder], and I go off on tangents constantly," Panczyk says. "My writing blends three things: There's the outline of a novel, the research that I do throughout, and finally, the inspiration that comes every day of my life."
Panczyk has yet to find a novel with as much inner dialogue as his own.
"I've tried to inundate the pages with humor and sarcasm by Matthew's constant interior dialogue," the author says. "He's a real guy – they're all real folks, but they've been called to do something not so ordinary."
Panczyk knows what makes him capable of creating his unique characters and their wild adventures.
"I've been blessed with an imagination that knows no bounds," he says. "That's the 10 percent. Then I work like a madman, hence the other 90."
And there's also a lot of heart behind his words.
"When I was writing it, I laughed, I cried, I sweated, I feared. I felt every emotion I was writing into the story," he says.
Panczyk has been writing since he was in elementary school, starting with screenplays, then moving into poetry. He has worked in a variety of creative fields, including acting, modeling and stand-up comedy.
In addition to writing, Panczyk works part-time as a private math tutor for elementary school students.
"Matthew Texas in: The Search for the Four Nails" is the first in a planned series of four books. Panczyk has already finished the manuscript for the second installment, titled "Matthew Texas in: The Lost Civilization."
Although he sent out many queries to publishers, bought all the books on how to get published, Panczyk ultimately opted for PublishAmerica.
"They were willing to publish what I gave them, which put the pressure back on me to submit the most polished manuscript I could give them," he says.
He does hope, though, that his work will catch the attention of a major publisher.
Regardless, Panczyk writes to take his readers on an engaging voyage and quest.
"I see my readers rushing home after work, turning off the phone, getting a pint of ice cream, nestling in on the couch and diving into the next chapter."
"Matthew Texas in: The Search for the Four Nails" can be purchased online at www.amazon.com and at www.barnesandnoble.com. For more information, visit www.matthewtexas.com.