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Plague Maker: Helping Prevent “Marital Terrorism”

Jeremy Reynalds
Assist News Service ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) -- It’s not often you can read a timely, spine-tingling novel that while keeping you riveted from beginning to end also provides some important lessons about marriage.

Plague Maker is such a book.

The book’s cover reads, “New York City, July 4. Millions gather for the city’s famous fireworks display. But the dazzling finale rains down a host of plague-carrying fleas to infect the city’s rats and, from there, humans. That’s the horrifying what-if scenario behind this ... tale. The stakes are high when a volatile FBI agent named Nathan Donovan, his terrorism-expert ex-wife Macy Armitstead, and a mysterious and refined Chinese Christian gentleman named Li Ming are pitted against Syrian terrorists and an elderly Japanese biological weapons expert with a decades-old grudge.”

However, there is so much more to Plague Maker than just bio terror. In a recent interview, I asked Downs about the book.

He said that while it is ostensibly about a plague, it is also about people who have to face up to their personal demons.

“One man took the path of anger and vengeance and is destroyed by it,” Downs said, “and the other was redeemed.”

Because Downs is such a skillful story teller, people who buy this book expecting a thriller will not be disappointed. But as they read “for the thrill of it,” they will also be exposed to a profound and powerful message about marriage.

“There are all kinds of people who will never read a marriage book,” Downs said. They read (a book like mine) because of the entertainment. The power of messages comes through the art, and not the heavy handedness. That is the most powerful way for us to communicate, through the subtlety of art.”

Downs said the bio terrorism theme of the book was very appropriate when dealing with marital issues, because it reminded him of another dangerous enemy; a concept he’s dubbed “marital terrorism.”

“What we fear from terror are unseen threats that come out of nowhere and destroy us,” Downs said. “I see the same thing in marriage. Things can come out of nowhere and wipe us out. We need to be on guard.”

In addition to being a book about a plague, Downs said, the novel focuses on forgiveness. “Each person in the book has an issue about forgiveness. Is the bad guy going to forgive? Each has a decision to make.”

Marriage is about forgiveness, Downs said. “Forgiveness is the central issue of life. Forgiveness is the only way a person can approach God. It’s the only way that couples can stay in a marriage – through extending the supernatural art of forgiveness.”

As a marriage seminar speaker, Downs said, “marital terrorism” is a theme he deals with all the time.

“Marriage is being attacked by a series of unseen forces that you have never seen before,” Downs said. “Your mate is not there for your recreational enjoyment. They play a very important – and sometimes painful – goal in your life. Marriage is the last chance that God gives you to grow up.”

Couples need to slow down and enjoy the marriage process, Downs said.

But, he added, “It is tough to slow down and value (such a ) journey, (where) I am being reformed, improved, or changed.”

He added, “I don't think of it as a hurdle,” but admitted, “We don't handle conflict well in marriage. Men see conflict as failure (and think) ‘I must be doing something wrong, because this is dirty.’ We don't want to get involved in the complexities of a woman. This is a lot of the mysterious stuff that makes up marriage.”

Here’s a sampling of a few lines from Plague Maker. Although I have read them countless times, these words from one of the book’s main characters to another continue to touch me deeply.

“I once loved a young woman once-more than most people can possibly imagine. I lost her, Nathan, and when I did my life became a series of endless regrets: things I could have said, things I could have done. It’s quite amazing, the clarity of vision that death brings with it. But the mind is like that, isn't it? You never remember the thing you've forgotten until the door clicks shut behind you.

“So here you both are, with things left unsaid and things left undone. But it’s not too late for you; the door is still open. So I'm here to plead with you both – talk with one another, say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done before it’s too late. Please believe me – no matter how painful it may be, if you leave these things undone your regrets will be far more painful later.”

With that in mind, I strongly recommend you buy “Plague Maker” when it’s available in Jan. 2006. It’s an intense, riveting, deeply emotional and yet gently instructional read that is well worth the investment of your time and money.

For more information about Plague Maker and author Tim Downs, go to

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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