I wrote my first novel to explore several concepts that struck me as compelling and profound. The first of these concepts posits that all human beings are connected collectively at a deep psychological level, inaccessible to the thinking mind but which can be touched in higher or altered states of consciousness. Accessing this state is akin to what some religious and spiritual belief systems would call a unity experience. Carl Jung termed this shared reality the collective unconscious, likening our individual psyches to the spokes of a bicycle tire with the collective at the hub.
The second idea relates to locales around the globe that mystics and sensitives claim to be energy centers or “power points” via which inflowing energy animates our reality, and may even influence thought, belief and emotion. Some have speculated that the world’s most enduring belief systems and religions arose in the most powerful of such places (e.g., Jerusalem) and retain their influence due to this origin.
The third idea involves the remote viewing program that both the U.S. and Soviet Union operated during the Cold War years, recruiting and training mystics and sensitives to serve as “psychic spies.” A whole body of literature exists today detailing this now declassified program which claimed startling successes in the projection of consciousness to distant locales.
The Ah-ha Moment
When I came across The Celestine Prophecy and saw how James Redfield had woven together several metaphysical theories within a fictional adventure story, I recognized how I would tell my tale. Like Redfield, I structured the plot along the lines of the Hero’s Journey, so well described by the mythologist Joseph Campbell as a life-changing quest into the supernatural and back. I seeded my protagonist, an aimless college graduate, with my own experience of alienation growing up in suburbia and a desire for adventure. I created mystery around her father, a man whom she’d never met, who served as one of the remote viewers who had stumbled into Jung’s collective unconscious in an altered state, glimpsing unknown truths. The hero’s journey begins when his daughter finds an artifact he’d left behind and sets off on a quest to discover what had happened to him.
When I began work on the first draft, I had a feeling for where the story was going—kind of. My polestar, far off but in view, was that she would eventually connect with the legacy of her father, or perhaps with the man himself. As the story unfolded, it marched more or less in that direction. I didn’t know many details, nor what would happen when she arrived at the climax. The excitement was in the discoveries. Staying true to the hero’s quest, I knew she’d be called upon to summon her inner strength and surmount long odds, but other than that the details remained unknown.
I completed the novel and put it up on Amazon in 2014 and reader comments have been illuminating. It seems those who are spiritually “awake” or spiritually inclined are its audience, whereas those not particularly drawn to spirituality are uninterested. I had wanted the book to appeal to the mainstream but perhaps that possibility was lost right out of the starting gate due to the nature of the material itself. Or maybe it was my execution, which seems to appeal solely to “the initiated.” Along the way, I came to admire how the authors of visionary fiction works such as The Alchemist and Way of the Peaceful Warrior managed to make esoteric subjects accessible and enjoyable to mainstream readers.
The Quest for a Publisher
Early in the life of the manuscript, I found literary agents to represent it and the book made its way to a number of publishing houses. The very editor at Warner Books who discovered The Celestine Prophecy offered positive feedback but ultimately declined to take it on. Another publisher gave a verbal okay and I celebrated my success. Then that publisher changed its mind, citing the difficulty of selling metaphysical or visionary fiction, a genre for which no established marketing category yet exists within traditional publishing nor in traditional channels.
At one point the book found its way to the offices of a well-known Hollywood agent who read it over a period of several weeks, as I waited in anxious expectation. He then told me, unsurprisingly, that its appeal was for too small and specialized an audience. One editor said the reader who couldn’t “take on and accept the belief system” wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. That seemed to be a confirmation of what I had been hearing all along. Eventually, I took the self-publishing route, which has largely been a positive experience. In self-publishing, the writer retains the rights and control over the book and can keep it available online indefinitely.
What I had tried to accomplish in this novel was to breathe life into a world in which many of our dearly held beliefs (e.g., we are all one, there is a greater order at work, energy passes between people, the universe is benevolent, etc.) are alive and treated as real. It’s a world that many writers and readers of visionary fiction hope for, sense intuitively, and believe may exist beneath the noise of society and our lives. As in other works of visionary fiction, the hope is that the reader will inhabit that world for a time, exploring and being entertained, learning and adventuring, all within the bounds of a spiritually compelling belief system that may indeed reflect the ways things truly are.
Warren Goldie was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a BS degree in biology at Towson University and has been a full-time writer for 25 years. Drawn to existential and metaphysical inquiry from a young age, Goldie pursued these interests through creative writing and a daily meditation practice. He has worked in Hollywood as an editor for Steven Spielberg and as a screenplay analyst. His essays have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, City Paper and Iowa Source. He was a featured playwright in Playwrights Showcase of the Western States and the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.
When Maya Burke digs up an old journal in her backyard, what she finds is a plan for a spiritual journey that leads her on a fascinating cross-country adventure of awakening.