Forming a Cult for Fun and “Prophet”: A Guest Post by Jennifer Bosworth + Giveaway!

You guys remember a few weeks ago when I was fangirling really hard over Struck by Jennifer Bosworth? And the cults within? Well, I kind of hit the jackpot with this blog tour because Jennifer agreed to do pretty much the greatest guest post OF ALL TIME for me on her research about cults. Friends, this post is RIVETING.  Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Jennifer Bosworth to Good Books & Good Wine!

Struck, Jennifer Bosworth, Book Cover


I’ve been obsessed with cults for as long as I can remember. I was born in 1978, the year the Jonestown Massacre occurred, so I wonder if my lizard/baby brain remembers everyone talking about that tragic event. When I was a little older, I started having recurring nightmares that a cult had formed in our town, nightmares so real I started to believe they weren’t dreams at all. I was in high school when the Waco siege went down, and also when Aum Shinrikyo attempted to kick-start Armageddon. Shortly after that, the Branch Dividian siege in Waco, Texas went down. Add to that, I grew up in Utah, where we were always on the lookout for renegade fundamentalist polygamists. They were easy to spot. For the most part, they look just like the polygamists who live on the compound in Big Love.

With all this cultiness abounding as I grew up, it’s no wonder I ended up including, not one, but two rival doomsday cults in STRUCK.

To create my own cults, I did a lot of research into the origins of some of the most infamous cults, the people who became their leaders, and why so many of them focus on the end of the world. There are striking parallels between many of these cults.

  • Auspicious beginnings – When you think cult, you think crazy, right? I certainly did until I started researching them. But what I discovered is that a number of the cults that became the most destructive actually had well-meaning origins. Take, for example, Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple of Jonestown Massacre fame. This is where the expression “don’t drink the Kool-Aid” came from. Jones instructed his followers to commit mass suicide by ingesting cyanide, but the taste was so awful he had it mixed with Kool-Aid first. Nearly a thousand of Jones’s followers committed suicide. Two hundred were children, many instructed or forced to take the poison by their parents.

Now, I can’t think of many things more horrible than this scenario. Watching a documentary about the massacre nearly turned my stomach. But it might surprise you to learn that the man who ordered the mass suicide is also the man who founded the Peoples Temple as a movement toward social justice. Jones preached racial harmony, and became a prophet for the oppressed. His ideology was revolutionary at the time when he began preaching. Unfortunately, the megalomania that seizes so many of these self-proclaimed “prophets” soon claimed him, and his peace/love church became a deathtrap.

This reminds me of the parable about how to boil a frog. If you drop them directly into a pot of boiling water, they’ll leap back out. But if you drop them into a nice, tepid bath and slowly turn up the heat, they won’t realize they’re cooked until it’s too late.

  • Naughty Prophets – Whether every self-proclaimed prophet of a cult actually believes he is the “chosen one” is difficult to assess. It stands to reason that for a person to convince others he is a true prophet, the one with all the right answers, that person must first convince himself of the same thing. And here’s where things get dirty.

“Prophetitis”––as I like to refer to it––comes with a variety of megalomaniacal and narcissistic symptoms. In the case of many faux-prophets––Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Warren Jeffs, and Shoko Asahara––power is used for personal, sexual gain. David Koresh entered into a number of “spiritual” marriages with women on his compound. Warren Jeffs’ “celestial” wives numbered 78 (that we know of) and 24 of them were underage when he married them. Jim Jones was accused, not only of using his power to command sexual favors from both the men and women in his church, but also of kidnappings and beatings for those who tried to leave him, or for those who disobeyed or questioned his teachings. Shoko Asahara preached sexual abstinence as a way to achieve supernatural powers, while indulging with mistresses himself.

  • The only way to save the world . . . is to destroy it –– Self-proclaimed prophets can’t seem to resist predicting the end of the world, and of course the end has to come within their lifetime. Otherwise, how would they protect their followers? Jim Jones moved his entire congregation to Redwood Valley, California, claiming that it was the safest place in the world to be in the event of a nuclear disaster, which he predicted would occur on July 15, 1967. The Heaven’s Gate doomsday cult combined elements of Christianity with science fiction, and ended up interpreting a section in the Book of Revelations to mean that earth was under control of evil forces, and the Heaven’s Gaters were the only ones who would attain heaven.

Unfortunately, some of these cults not only predict the end, but attempt to bring it about. In 1995, Aum Shinrikyo, a fanatical doomsday cult out of Japan, released a deadly nerve gas on five subway trains during Tokyo’s rush hour. Eleven people were killed, up to five thousand injured. Had Aum procured a purer form of the gas (he did try), the death count would have been in the hundreds of thousands. Aum Shinkrikyo just couldn’t wait for the end of the world. They wanted to jump start it.

Fortunately for us––and just as unfortunately for self-proclaimed prophets like Shoko Asahara––the world isn’t going down without a fight!

You can find Jennifer Bosworth on her website, on Twitter and on Facebook!

Check out the rest of the blog tour here!

Oh and friends this book trailer is LEGIT!

Giveaway: To enter for my ARC of Struck, just leave a comment relevant to the guest post! Contest is open internationally until May  31. I will pick a winner randomly.

And the winner is Brookea_2006! Congrats!!!


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Latest posts by April (Books&Wine) (see all)

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Rebecca Hipworth says

    Thank you for the giveaway. 🙂
    The trailer looks amazing; this is definitely a book I NEED to read.

  2. What a great interview! I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now, and would love to win a copy. I can’t wait to see how everything pans out 🙂

  3. Wow, that was an interesting post. I am repulsed and creeped out yet cannot turn away, kind of like a train wreck. . It’s fascinating and scary all at the same time. It must have been fun researching the book! Please enter me in the giveaway:)

  4. I think I’d be on the lookout for cults in Utah as well! 😀

  5. I am so creeped out. Well, *I*’m not going to sleep tonight…

    Thanks so much for the ARC giveawy. =D

  6. I’ve never really thought about cults much but you certainly make them sound interesting! I had actually heard of Jim Jones’ story though. Kind of crazy!! I guess cults are fascinating when you hear about stuff like that.

    Thanks so much for the guest post and the giveaway! I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while now!

  7. I’ve had this book on my to read list since I first saw the cover.
    Really intrigued with this premise.

    Great giveaway 🙂


  8. I always thought cults were so freaking scary and creepy ! Oh and also crazy as hell ! They can do so much harm to people and it is so unbelievable that people would put so much devotion into some man who is mind-fucking them all day long ! But in a certain way, it’s also a very fascinating subject to explore in books and movies.

    So yeah count me in ! And thanks for the giveaway (sorry for my bad english by the way ^^’). I am following your blog for quiet a few weeks and I don’t reply to your post a lot. But so far I enjoy reading you a lot !

  9. Pretty scary, but what’s even worse is how easily people follow these “prophets” without thinking twice about it.
    BTW, has anyone seen The Wave?

    And thank you for the giveaway!

  10. Oh wow this is fascinating. Thanks for the giveaway, by the way. I think these type of people are really interesting. I’ve never thought much about cults specifically, but just…in general…people like Charles Manson and the like are so creepily fascinating.

    Thanks for sharing some of the information you learned, Jennifer. Very interesting!


  11. I did a fascinating module when I was studying Sociology at college along similar lines. As well as looking at the people who start them, we also studied those that join them and whether there’s any particular profile or similar that makes any one person more likely to subscribe to a radical ideology than another, which was an interesting angle too. Sadly, I do think that it often comes down to the persuasiveness of a purported leader as much as anything else! So I totally agree – cults are really interesting and this post was fantastic 🙂

  12. I have this book on my shelf and you best believe I’m bumping it up after reading this fascinating post!

  13. That trailer is for a book???? It should be a movie!!! <<<that is how good the trailer was…i'm sooo excited for this book!!! 🙂

  14. I’ve only heard of a couple of these cults so to get more information on them is awesome! It’s just so mind-boggling to me, the way those leaders got so many people to follow them through everything and the destruction they left in their wake.

  15. Rachel Chan says

    At school for psychology a few days ago we were reading about various cults and their devotion to their leaders… it was very creepy! Thank you so much for this giveaway, as I’ve had my eye on Struck for awhile now!

  16. Mary Preston says

    The word CULT certainly has connotations. My mind jumps to fanatic immediately. The research must have been fascinating & a tad scary.


  17. Cult for me immediately brings creepy into mind!Struck sounds really good!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  18. WOW! Thanks for a great post and giveaway! I’ve had this book on my wishlist for a while now as I read such awesome reviews/buzz for it 🙂

    The cult thing is scary.

  19. The trailer looks awesome!
    I want to read it.
    I want to own it.
    I want to see the movie!

  20. Very interesting guest post – I never knew that was where “don’t drink the Kool-Aid” came from…yikes.

  21. alicia marie says

    i loved reading this post. i find cults to be pretty interesting and enjoyed reading about the research she’s done. now, must read the book! thanks for the giveaway : )

  22. Wow, I learned so much about cults! It would be interesting to learn about the difference between organized religions and cults.

  23. Bridget Howard says

    This trailer was amazing I really want to read this book!!! I haven’t really read any books like this before so it will be interesting to see if I like it!!! Thanks for the great giveaway!!!!

  24. milind uppal says

    Thanks for the giveaway it looks amazing and the trailer is really cool too. Plus I just read the prequel called prophet and it was awesome. I really ned to read this now.

  25. milind uppal says

    Thanks for the giveaway it looks amazing and the trailer is really cool too. Plus I just read the prequel called prophet and it was awesome. I really need to read this now.

  26. This book just looks awesome, i can’t wait to read it
    thanks for the giveaway

  27. Great interview and honestly I can’t wait to read the book PLUS really grreat trailer!

  28. I love this guest post.
    Jennifer Bosworth is awesome. Her story is incredible.
    I cannot wait to see what other stories this gal has in that fun brain of hers!

  29. brookea_2006 says

    Thanks for the giveaway! The trailer looks amazing, and i loved all the information about cults; it was really interesting!

    brookea_2006 at yahoodotcom

  30. The idea of a cult is utterly fascinating!! I just can’t fathom giving yourself over to someone like that. It’s just terrifying. But really fascinating from an outside perspective. Great post!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  31. Rachael L says

    Great post Ms. Bosworth! This book has been on my TBR list for a long time. Thank you for the giveaway!

  32. I’m pretty much never going to be able to hear “don’t drink the kool-aid” in the same way ever again – that’s fascinating how it came about, but highly disturbing, too, of course. Great guest post!

  33. Ooo. This looks interesting – I’ve had a bit of experience with cults myself the few years I lived in Wyoming.

  34. Very interesting to read. I love all the research you did before you wrote. And by the way love what you said about the frogs. Its so true. Lol

  35. This reminds me a bit of that episode of Dollhouse where she goes in to implicate a prophet and his group while being “blind”. It is a scary thought to think that people want to believe in something that much.
    nheck AT natashamheck DOT com

  36. That was interesting but I’m definitely creeped out. It makes me sad how some people can believe this things but then I think, it’s not entirely their fault, it must be so difficult when that’s everything you’ve ever known, like the children in those cults.

    Now I want to read this book even more, Jenn Bosworth sounds like a truly smart lady.

  37. reading mind says

    The only way to save the world . . . is to destroy it <- I loved this. The story looks great and I really hope to read it!

  38. Love this post. Jonestown and Jim Jones completely freak me out. The whole cult concept and those who fall prey to them are fascinating.

    Can’t wait to read this book!

  39. I read Struck. Fabulous story. It was sad to have it
    End. I remember the Jonestown very clearly. I was in
    the 8th grade. Something I will always remember. The subsequent
    tv movie with Powers Booth, made it all so
    scary real.

  40. Cults absolutely freak me out. But this book looks AMAZING! Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for doing a giveaway!

  41. This is a really interesting post — I was interested in Struck before but had no idea that it had that cult element to it. Now I am really curious to see where the book will take that idea. It is so disturbing to me that there are leaders out there that can brainwash people and cause them to do things they never would have done otherwise.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  42. I am so excited to read this book, it sounds like an amazing and fun book to dive into! Thank you for the beyond great giveaway!

  43. I vaguely remember a weird cult-like situation in my hometown when I was really really young, and I had recurring nightmares about it all through my childhood because my parents drilled it in my brain not to talk to strangers during this time. I hope I win this book, so excited to read it!!


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