Jonathan Flite claims to have memories he can't explain. Seven layers of them, to be exact, all belonging to a group of teenagers who disappeared from a place called Idle County in 2010-ten years before his birth. Seventeen years of anxiety, violent outbursts, and refusal to admit he is lying have landed him at Crescent Rehabilitation Center, a seaside juvenile center for rich kids, and nobody has ever dared to believe his memories might be real.
Until now. On a blustery November day just three months after a nuclear terrorist attack in Geneva, Switzerland, ex-CIA psychiatrist Thomas Lumen arrives at Crescent to interview Jonathan for a book about Idle County. Fueled by his personal connection to the disappearances three decades earlier, he asks Jonathan to share what he knows-anything and everything. By reigniting this thirty-year-old mystery, however, Jonathan inadvertently becomes a target of the very same religious terrorists who attacked Geneva, and they'll stop at nothing to keep the secrets of Idle County under wraps. Jonathan must then make a choice: to continue telling his story, or risk the safety of everyone he loves.
This genre-defying series opener from Beier (The Breeders) spans a generation and is told from multiple points of view. In 2010, seven teenagers disappear into the Moon Woods of Minnesota, becoming known as the Idle County Seven. Molly, one of the missing, narrates the events leading up to her vanishing; she also leaves behind a journal detailing her fixation with ghost hunting. Decades later, Jonathan Flite, a volatile and unsociable 13-year-old, claims to possess intimate knowledge of the vanished Seven. A curious psychologist seeks out Jonathan, who lives in a home for troubled youth, while numerous other characters become preoccupied with the unsolved mystery. Meanwhile, a controversial leader of a radical new wave of atheism is ominously linked both to a nuclear bombing in Switzerland and to the Idle County Seven. Beier’s narrative range is formidable, weaving a tapestry of multiple characters and plot tributaries; the story’s paranormal and quantum physics elements are perhaps more evocative than the underdeveloped thriller aspects. The many shifts in perspective and time frame can be disorienting, but Beier’s engrossing storytelling leaves many questions intriguingly unsettled. Ages 12–up.
Author Matthew J. Beier, coming off his gay agenda satire The Breeders, will soon be releasing The Confessions of Jonathan Flite, the first book in an explosive new YA-Adult crossover series that will tackle the global clash of science and spirituality. The series, set against a nuclear terrorist attack in Geneva, Switzerland, follows a Rhode Island juvenile delinquent named Jonathan Flite, who was born in 2020 with memories of seven teenagers who vanished without a trace halfway across the country, ten years before his birth. The novel will be released on August 19, 2014 by Epicality Books.
San Francisco, California—August 10, 2014
Matthew J. Beier’s second novel, The Confessions of Jonathan Flite, is the first in an explosive new YA-Adult crossover series that tells the story of Jonathan Flite, a troubled seventeen-year-old boy who claims to have been born with memories of seven teenagers who vanished halfway across the country, ten years before his birth. Beier, whose first novel The Breeders was one of The Advocate magazine’s “20 Must-Reads” of 2012, is now aiming at a more mainstream teen and adult audience, spinning a seven-volume series involving life, death, ghosts, reincarnation, and a global clash of science and spirituality.
Inspired by the work of psychiatrists like Ian Stevenson, Jim Tucker, and Brian Weiss, The Confessions of Jonathan Flite tackles an unnerving question: What would happen if society were faced with proof that consciousness survives death? The book spans multiple timelines, telling the 2037 story of its title character, Jonathan Flite, as his supposed past-life memories become key in helping the FBI investigate a fanatical Catholic clergyman’s nuclear terrorist attack in Geneva, Switzerland. Intertwined is the story of eleven-year-old Molly Butler, one of the long-lost teens whose memories Jonathan claims to have, as her innocent childhood ghost hunt in 2004 sparks a chain of events that eventually leads to her disappearance—and, thirty-three years later, the terrorist attack in Switzerland.
“That’s where it all starts,” Beier says. “Confessions is a big, complicated story, but I strove to keep it intimate and focused on the characters. It’s about people who are unexpectedly faced with facts that could change the world. It’s a coming-of-age story, a crime thriller, and a ghost story all in one—think Young Adult meets Adult, with an unexpected dash of Middle Grade. I’m hoping it will resonate with series readers of all ages.”
Never far from the story’s surface is Beier’s fascination with theoretical physics, human consciousness, and the fact that neither science nor religion can, as of yet, provide solid answers to the question of why our universe exist in the first place. “The Confessions of Jonathan Flite is as much a result of my long-lost Catholic upbringing as it is a result of my fascination with scientists’ pursuit of a grand unified theory to explain nature,” Beier says. “This will become more obvious as the series progresses. My ambition was to set a mysterious, intriguing, and character-driven story against these huge, seemingly opposing thought structures.”
A complicated task? Maybe. But Beier’s goal, first and foremost, is to entertain readers in a thought-provoking way and keep them coming back for subsequent books. “I’m a huge fan Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, His Dark Materials—viral page turners that didn’t dumb down their grounding in the human experience,” he says. “My goal here is to write a story that will keep people glued to their printed books or e-readers. And if their engagement with the story ultimately leaps off the page, into actual discussion, all the better. The Jonathan Flite series is my attempt to honor the authors who allowed me to grow up with that type of experience.”
Matthew J. Beier is a novelist, screenwriter, and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is available for blog tours, author Q&A, and audio interviews. The Confessions of Jonathan Flite will be on sale in hardcover and e-book formats on August 19, 2014.