(Editor’s note – Oftentimes our stories are culled from our life experiences – painful, joyful, mystical, paranormal – and forged into Visionary Fiction. Author Rea Nolan Martin tells her tale of how such an experience shaped her newest novel.)
The story behind The Anesthesia Game is very close to my heart. The fifteen-year-old protagonist, Sydney, suffers a life-threatening illness that requires frequent spinal procedures for which she undergoes regular anesthesia. Having spent years accompanying my own child through such procedures, I understood from page one the spectrum of courage (or cowardice) my characters would likely exhibit, patient and family members alike. Having said that, this story is far from a memoir. The personalities of my characters vary greatly from those of my own family. I constructed the characters from scratch, asking myself—what if not one, but all of them suffered some kind of affliction, real or imagined? What if, in order to manage their afflictions, each one of them was also under the influence of her own version of anesthesia? How would they manage to help each other? How would they progress? Or would they? Who would lose a life and who would find one? After the first 100 pages or so, the characters showed me the way.
As a writer of Visionary Fiction, I imagined the child’s disease and the resulting anesthesia, not as a means of sedating her life, so much as awakening it. After all, what value do negative experiences contain if not to hone us and/or those around us? The problem is, at what price the experience? The risks in this story are as high as they can be. Lives hang in the balance.
Circumstances surrounding childhood cancers are tragic from anyone’s perspective, but much is to be gained if we have the courage to tread consciously through such toxic waters. The patient is of course the central concern, but the peripheral damage to family and friends can also be acute and widespread. If they’re paying attention, almost everyone involved ends up learning something powerful about him or herself in the process. Coincidentally, the essential component of Visionary Fiction is the awakening of the deep self to greater purpose.
I first learned about Visionary Fiction (VF) when my previous novel, Mystic Tea, was awarded several literary prizes in that genre. Exploring it on Google, I discovered the VFA (Visionary Fiction Alliance) with a mention of my name as one of its contemporary authors. VF, as it turns out, is the oldest new genre there is. Myth is VF; fairy tales are VF; even ancient sacred texts contain all the consciousness awakening components of this powerful genre. I wrote Visionary Fiction decades before I knew what it was, as has been the case with most of my peers in that sector. It was simply the truth as we knew it. VF authors tend to be highly intuitive and imaginative believers in infinite possibility. Unlike other genres, its literary DNA emerges not from the demands of plot or even the growth of its characters, although those are important, but from the authenticity of the writing as an expression of the soul.
In writing The Anesthesia Game, I did my best to honor that tradition.
Rea Nolan Martin has been writing Literary and Visionary Fiction for over twenty years. She is the author of two novels, The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright (2009) and Mystic Tea (2014), as well as short stories and poetry published in national literary magazines and anthologies. She was a founding editor of Inkwell literary magazine, as well as an adjunct professor in the Master of Arts in Writing (MAW) program at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. Her inspirational blogs are published regularly in The Huffington Post and The Charter For Compassion. Her second novel, Mystic Tea, is the recipient of the 2014 IPPY gold medallion and US Best Book award for Visionary Fiction, as well as the 2014 Pinnacle gold medallion in the category of Literary Fiction. Her third novel, The Anesthesia Game, was just released September, 2015.