Glenn Segal’s an optician by day, but his spare time is focused on tapping out pages of science-fiction prose.
Tacony’s Glenn Segal wrote some poetry and musical lyrics as a youth and a short story as a teenager, but he has spent his adult years in real estate and as an optician.
Between customers at DejaView Optical in Huntingdon Valley, he’d pass the time reading.
“I never thought in my wildest imagination that I would ever write a novel,” he said.
Segal, 54, married with three children and a granddaughter, has long been a science-fiction buff.
Back in the early 1990s, he operated the UFO Information Line. Callers would dial a 1-900 number for information on UFO encounters and sightings and NASA happenings.
The line eventually went dead.
“Timing is everything. If it happened after The X-Files, it would be a whole different thing,” he said of the hit Fox sci-fi television series.
When Segal decided to put his interests on paper, the subject was a natural one. He began writing about science fiction.
The writing came easily.
“I filled up sixteen notebooks,” he said.
Those words were eventually put on a computer, and the finished product was an 800-page manuscript.
The key, he said, was having the willpower to follow the story through to its completion and developing a plot, characters and places.
“I wrote every night,” Segal said.
Sensing that nobody would publish or read such a long novel, he divided the story into three books.
Originally, in September 2009, the first of the three-part series was available only online through Amazon.
Segal, though, soon pivoted to publish Devine Intervention: The Messenger through the self-publishing company Author House.
“I wanted a chance to put the book on shelves,” he said. “Unless you’re backed by a major publisher, you have to get a buzz.”
The book is available at authorhouse.com, xlibris.com and devineintervention.com, and at the Devine Intervention page on Facebook.
In addition, while Barnes & Noble does not carry the book on its shelves, it can be ordered at the store.
“Everybody who read the first book couldn’t wait for the second one to come out,” Segal said.
In August, In the Realm was released. The second part of the series is available at authorhouse.com
Segal promises a good read.
“A lot of action happens in the second book,” he said.
The third book, Revelation, is pegged for an early 2012 release.
The author believes readers will be reeled in by the beginning of the third novel.
“The United States is attacked off the coast of Cape May,” he said.
Segal is happy with the way the story has been told.
“I think it’s pretty neat,” he said.
Times change in the publishing industry, and Segal sees no problem in returning to the original concept — an 800-page book.
The only way that would work, he acknowledges, would be in an electronic format.
“I might do all three books in one,” he said. “People are not going to be carrying around eight-hundred pages, but in the digital world, that disappears.”
Segal, a Gillespie Street resident, hopes the books appeal to local readers, in part because they include a number of local landmarks.
Among those featured in the book are the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, Castor Avenue and three long-ago businesses — the Gingham House, the Benner movie theater and Marlo Books.
The Devine Intervention series is about a self-appointed prophet who recruits disciples and launches a techno-spiritual movement that sweeps the planet.
Segal draws from various religious perspectives. He was raised an Orthodox Jew and believes in a higher power, but is not part of an organized religion. He and his wife, Joanne, raised their children Catholic, and they attended Father Judge and St. Hubert high schools.
The Messenger, named Mathew Wells, surfaces in a far-flung retirement enclave, 20 miles north of Philadelphia.
“He woke up one day in that room,” the author explains.
The Messenger spends five years studying the world before seeking disciples.
His new religion is called the Sphere of Spin and Modulation, and a fictitious Father Judge student named Jimbo Griffin sets up its Internet site.
The religion really takes off after The Messenger is interviewed on 20-20 by Diane Sawyer.
The Messenger is opposed by Christian zealots and Muslim fanatics, and enlists the help of everyone from Jesus to Mohammed to Jerry Garcia (Segal is a Deadhead).
Not that he needs the help. He can manipulate the weather, heal the stricken, foretell the future, alter time and space and cure drug addictions.
“He can fly, levitate himself, perform miracles and cure diseases, including AIDS,” the author adds. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org