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 A local Butte author has written a novel called “Jesus Fish UFO.”

 That author is local newsman John Emeigh. In a recent interview he told publisher Jim Larson about his book with enthusiasm and wit, typical of the writer.

 The novel takes place in a deeply conservative fundamentalist small town in East Texas that suddenly becomes a Roswell-like magnet for UFO enthusiasts. The two groups collide, notes Emeigh.

 The new arrivals (the human ones) “butt heads with the religious leaders of this community who hold more sway over everything.”

 In all of the chaos of the conflict between the town fathers and the newcomers, a young man wants to learn the truth about his father’s death, the author says.

 Emeigh says he worked on the novel for roughly 15 years, even before he came to Montana. LIke many journalists, he said he had a “little manuscript in my desk drawer by my typewriter.” As time went by, the book came together, he said.

 When asked if he had a regular place where he wrote, the author described a den in his basement. He said it's a place where he can decorate with “guy stuff” such as fishing, hunting, and baseball items.

 The novel has a “twist” noted Emeigh, but he quickly moved away from that potentially spoiling topic and began to speak about his characters, some of whom he said were “downright despicable.”

 Author’s often describe their characters as taking on a will of their own. Mr. Emeigh is no exception. “They do really grow. They become their own person,” he notes. He said that when his characters become real to him, when he sees them as actual people, then he knows that the characters are keepers.

 Emeigh points to a character that he initially designated “the bad guy.” He tried to put everything that he disliked in person into the character. “He was the pastor,” noted Mr. Emegh. He was heavy-handed and controlling. As the narrative developed, however, the author began to gain “empathy and sympathy” for the pastor. As the novel progressed, the writer’s perspective regarding the character changed, and the pastor’s role in the book transformed as well. Emeigh originally planned to punish the pastor in some way, but that changed as the author gained understanding for the character. The character became richer, “and I understood him better,” the author said.

 Emeigh says that his book deals with issues of faith. He argues that people tend to become “blinded” by their faith, and then can’t see the rest of the world. He says that he finds nothing wrong with “believing in things,” but those beliefs shouldnt should prevent the believers from seeing the good things in the world or be used as a justification to harm others.

 Emeigh notes that the book deals with two groups of true believers. One, the UFOologists believe that aliens are visiting the earth. The other, a group of fundamentalist Christians, beleive that God directs everything. Although the two cultures clash, they are similar, the author says, because “They are very deep in their belief systems.” Emeigh observes, “Both look up to the sky for answers, you see.”

 The writer says that the book is satirical and goes to extremes, as he believes, good satire does. He warns that the novel contains adult situations and language, sometimes uncomfortable language. He hopes that the work is both entertaining and profound.

 Emeigh gives his wife Heather Lingle credit for the design of the book’s cover. “I think it looks fantastic,” he notes. 

 Emeigh’s wife was at a book signing with the author. When it came time for the author to read, he pointed out that it was his first time, implying that those attending shouldn’t expect too much.

 After lowering expectations, he proceeded not to read so much from his novel as to perform two of the chapters. The characters did indeed come to life as Emeigh punctuated the reading with broad arm-sweeping gestures. 

After the chapters were read, Emeigh and Lingle performed a song taken right from the pages of the book, evoking laughter and delight from the audience.

 “Jesus Fish UFO” is available from Amazon and on Kindle, and no doubt, will be available in local bookstores.