Andy Andrews Interview: 'The Final Summit' Continues Ponder's Journey from 'The Traveler's Gift'
In the sequel to best-selling author Andy Andrews’ The Traveler’s Gift, his new offering entitled The Final Summit picks up with David Ponder who many years ago discovered the Seven Decisions during a divine journey through time. Now 74 years old, Ponder has lost the one thing that mattered to him most – his wife, Ellen.
Despite his personal and professional success, he now sits alone at the top of his 55-story high-rise contemplating the unthinkable, just as he did 28 years ago. However, just as things are looking their darkest, Ponder is informed through the archangel Gabriel that he is needed now more than ever. This is mankind’s last chance.
“It’s unbelievable that there exists a person that we do not know about, that we don’t know his name, that he’s not in history books, and yet the President of the United States said that if it wasn’t for him we would still be fighting the war.”
There is only one solution that can keep humanity from hurtling toward inevitable disaster – and it is only two words. Ponder, along with a cast of famous historical figures, must work quickly to discover this solution.
The Final Summit explores the historically proven principles that have guided our greatest leaders for centuries. Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.
In addition to The Traveler’s Gift, Mastering the Seven Decisions, the author’s other works include The Noticer, Return to Sawyerton Springs, The Heart Mender, The Butterfly Effect, and The Boy Who Changed the World.
Andrews lives in Orange Beach, Alabama, with his wife Polly and their two sons.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Andy, I thoroughly enjoyed The Final Summit. Why did you decide to write a sequel to The Traveler’s Gift?
Andy Andrews: For a long time I thought that I would not write a sequel. When The Traveler’s Gift hit, right off the bat they wanted me to write a sequel. I thought, “You know, I really hate it when people write a book that has the 7 things … the 7 laws … then when the book sells they find 7 more.” I didn’t want to be guilty of that, just to try to write a book just so it would sell and I didn’t really have anything to say right when it came out.
It has been like 10 years and a long time for me to figure a great storyline that would just excite people – the thing worth telling, you know, the principal worth uncloaking that people would find that would change their lives. I hear all the time from people, “I just don’t know what to do.” I hear that in regards to their marriage, children, finances, and jobs. People say, “I just don’t know what to do.” This book is written around the answer to that. This is what to do when you don’t know what to do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The concept of the historical figures meeting in heaven and conversing with each other was just fascinating. How did you go about choosing the group?
Andy Andrews: Well, I’ve always thought that a fun question to ask people would be, “What would be your greatest dinner party in history? If you could surround yourself at a table with 7 of history’s greatest people, who would you put at a table at one time? Who would you put around a table?” I always thought that was a curious question to ask people. If you’re going to have a dinner and had a problem you wanted to solve, whom would you want at your elbows when you solved it? Who would you want going through this?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You interject humor in the dialogue also such as the interplay between Joan of Arc and Winston Churchill.
Andy Andrews: Right (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And like The Heart Mender, you are informing us in this book about a little known fact surrounding World War II. A man named Eric Erickson was instrumental in winning the war for the Allies.
Andy Andrews: Yeah. I wanted to have a character in this book that nobody knew and yet he was a real character and had done something significant so I went looking to find that character. When you’re trying to find something like that it can be like a needle in a haystack and it can be like you’re just pulling little threads that lead nowhere. But I finally found him and he’s a major character in this book, a character that would blow people’s minds.
It’s unbelievable that there exists a person that we do not know about, that we don’t know his name, that he’s not in history books, and yet the President of the United States said that if it wasn’t for him we would still be fighting the war. Hitler’s second in command said that if it wasn’t for him they would’ve won the war and yet we don’t even know who this guy is. That’s been an exciting thing for me to see people read this book and find out about this character and go, “Is this guy real?” Then they can do their own research, go on the Internet, and say, “Oh my gosh, this guy is a real person!”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I found a couple of lines in Wikipedia on Eric and in parenthesis by his name was the word “spy.”
Andy Andrews: Isn’t that wild?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes, and that was about it on an initial search. I did read that a film, The Counterfeit Traitor, was made about his life.
Andy Andrews: Yeah, like in 1963 or something. They had done a movie on him and it didn’t do much. And today here’s this guy who’s the key to everything for the Allies and yet nobody knows who he is. That’s just amazing to me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I imagine not many people were aware of Churchill’s depression or what he called the “black dog.”
Andy Andrews: Right. Isn’t that incredible to have this person, Winston Churchill, who was beset by clinical depression. He had this all his adult life, what he called the “black dog.” He was overcome by clinical depression and yet this is the one guy the world turned to for hope.
He’s overcome with depression and his job is to give hope to a continent in World War II. I mean, think about World War II geographically and how Hitler had gone across the whole continent of Europe and this little island, England, is there by itself all alone. The only person to bring them hope is a guy who is overcome with depression. It’s extremely incredible.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes and Abraham Lincoln also suffered from depression.
Andy Andrews: Yeah, I thought that was interesting to have characters from a different time who didn’t know each other who were both suffering from the same thing and got to talk about it. There was Abraham Lincoln from the 1800s and Winston Churchill from the 1900s, both of them leaders of a country, both of them suffering depression, having them talk about it and kind of be aware of each other because of the location they ended up in. It was a pretty neat component of the story to me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I also loved the fact that you sneaked in Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in the group.
Andy Andrews: I snuck him in there. Could you tell? Isn’t that funny?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Absolutely (laughs). Well, the two-word answer to the question of how to save humanity can actually be applied to the country today with the current climate of derision and strife.
Andy Andrews: Yes, absolutely. I believe that one of the largest problems we face as a country is apathy. I think people have kind of gotten to a point where they think they don’t make a difference. What I try to do in my writing in The Butterfly Effect and the different things is to prove how much people matter. There has not been a single presidential election in the last quarter century where we had over 100,000,000 registered voters who did not vote. So to say you don’t make a difference … obviously we’ve got apathy brewing here and that is a perilous place on that scale of dissent in nation’s history.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you believe apathy is one of the causes of so much unrest?
Andy Andrews: I do. I believe people need to get re-involved and we need to send the right people to Congress, the right people to represent us. I feel like there is a lot more that we can do that we’re leaving for other people.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Perhaps if people pulled together more to support the national leaders.
Andy Andrews: I’m not an “us” or a “them” kind of person. I am a “we” kind of person. So I think that all of us are smarter than one of us and I think we can gather together and make something great still. But the key to it is actually in this book.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Most of the online reviews have been glowing, but there is always one or two who believes there is a lack of biblical perspectives.
Andy Andrews: It’s funny to me that somebody would call to task, “How does he know that such and such person is in heaven?” Well, I want to say, “How do you know they’re not?” In the book, Benjamin Franklin says that some of us made the decision to be here at the last minute. That’s still an availability for all of us, so I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s wise. I read that the Ohio State Buckeye football team uses The Traveler’s Gift to help them deal with sanctions. That’s a great compliment.
Andy Andrews: Yeah, Coach Tressel made it required reading for the whole team.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Now, in the book, Gabriel tells David that he’d see him again. Will there be another sequel?
Andy Andrews: I don’t know. That’s possibly down the road. I’m not going to do it immediately, but I’m leaving all the doors open. As an author, I have to learn something and I have to figure something that’s worth in a story so I’m looking forward to it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): When we spoke last summer, The Heart Mender was headed to the big screen.
Andy Andrews: That’s still ongoing. I don’t go into those meetings because I figure the less I bother with them the more they’ll get done. They just let me write (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will The Traveler’s Gift and The Final Summit also be turned into movies?
Andy Andrews: Yes, that’s an ongoing thing, too. They’re all still hanging out there.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Andy, it has been a year since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As a resident of Orange Beach, Alabama, how does it look to you?
Andy Andrews: Everything is great. We’ve got everything back up and running and the temperature is great. The beaches look beautiful and the water is clear. People shouldn’t worry at all about coming down here. There’s no evidence of it all. I’m driving around today looking and just seeing how happy everybody looks and how much fun they’re having!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How’s the fishing?
Andy Andrews: Yep, I’m a fisherman and the fishing is good. If the fishing wasn’t good I wouldn’t be real happy so I promise I’m happy and the fishing is great!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you writing another book now?
Andy Andrews: I am. I’m always working on a new book. There is no particular title yet, but working on a cool story.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Perhaps a trivia book would be in order considering there were little known facts about World War II in both The Heart Mender and The Final Summit.
Andy Andrews: I really do enjoy odd facts. I enjoy those odd little things that people find and the things you never know about that made a difference.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Andy, thanks as always for speaking with me. I look forward to next time when we can discuss that cool story.
Andy Andrews: Awesome! Thanks so much. You keep everything going up there!
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