It started with a phone call from my agent in late 2013. One of his colleagues had encountered a man named Timothy Smith, who had quite a story to tell, and was interested in partnering with an author experienced in writing collaborations. My experience working with famous and not-famous Christian authors and cooperating on numerous award-winning books made me a candidate.
At the time I had several deadlines to meet, but Timothy and I connected over the phone and began talking about what a coauthoring process might look like for a project he had already begun calling The Chamberlain Key, a reference to a sort of master key held by the chamberlain, a senior official in a royal household, which gave access to the most private and protected areas of the castle. I learned that Timothy had found something in the text of the Hebrew Bible that had startling ramifications for him, his family, and the world. I figured: Sure, why not?
We signed an agreement to tiptoe forward on the project and work together to draft a book proposal, a task I had performed dozens of times. However, I could never have imagined how different this one would be. A book proposal (created in the hope of interesting publishers in a particular book, often before the book is complete) must outline the book, chapter-by-chapter. This requires, of course, that the author or authors have a clear idea of what they want to say and in what order they want to say it. In the case of The Chamberlain Key, there were so many layers and details—as well as numerous unfolding developments still occurring—that it seemed impossible at first to get my arms around what Timothy knew, when he knew it, how he knew it, and what it all meant.
We spent hours on the phone together, and many of our early conversations comprised a list of questions from me followed by long, detailed, mind-boggling explanations by Timothy. I’ve known many brilliant people in my life and work, but I’ve never encountered someone whose brain works quite like Timothy’s. Our discussions were always delightful but dizzying—every answer he offered seemed to raise new questions. I marveled at each new twist and turn in the story, and may well have dismissed Timothy’s discoveries and interpretations if I were not impressed by his integrity and amazed by his dogged curiosity and professionalism.
Eventually, we managed to write a proposal, then a manuscript, that told the story of the chamberlain key, a clue hidden in the Hebrew Bible that seemed simultaneously impossible and irrefutable. Even after the book was accepted for publication, new surprises arose and the story continued to evolve—as it does even to this day.
Long before the book’s release, I began describing The Chamberlain Key to family and friends as the “differentest” book I’ve ever written (or played a part in writing). It unites my faith in God, love for the Bible, fascination with the Hebrew language and the Hebrew portions of the Bible, and confidence that (in the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet), “there are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of in [our] philosophy.”
Add to that my appreciation for Timothy Smith and the strange path that he has walked and experiences he has had, and I hope you’ll see that The Chamberlain Key is a story—a true story—like no other, and one that may open doors to faith and the future that will amaze us all.
Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His forty-seven books, which include The Bone Box and American Idols (The Worship of the American Dream), have sold millions of copies. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell, including the best-selling Right from Wrong (What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices) and the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others. Bob is also a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. Visit Bob’s website at www.BobHostetler.com