This may sound strange to you and what I’m about to share even stranger, but I can think of no better way to explain how I ended up writing in a genre that parallels the new neural sciences and has yet to find a receptive audience.
A word from my protagonist
I open my case with a message from my protagonist, written shortly after I completed my first novel.
My name is Marjorie Veil Sunwalker. Margaret Duarte, the writer of this novel, believes she has created me. She believes she has made up the events and details of my journey. What she doesn’t realize is that I have been with her for a long, long time. She was only an instrument, my interpreter.
Margaret first felt my presence during a visit to the Monterey Peninsula in California. It was August of the year 2000. She was on the 17-Mile Drive and had stopped at the landmark of The Lone Cypress. There, I gently touched her, beckoning her for the first time. At her next stop she saw what remains of “The Ghost Tree,” bleached white by wind and sea. As she stood entranced, I nudged her one more time. Finally, at the Carmel Mission, I set the trap and she was caught. She didn’t know the how and whys, but she knew she would write a story.
From then on, I’ve been her invisible guide. I’ve whispered my thoughts and experiences to her, lifting the veil a bit at a time. It was her job to put all the pieces together. She was to make sense of all the twists and turns that appeared along the path. She was to be my voice.
Another thing Margaret does not know is that this was also her journey. We traveled the road of my quest together. Often my surprises were her surprises, my trials became her trials, and my awakening helped her to awaken. I give Margaret credit for taking on this large project. She was obsessed and stubborn enough to carry it through. She kept unraveling, sorting, and weaving until the invisible threads of my tale were connected into an intricate web, ready to preserve between the covers of her book.
Margaret has learned to receive my message with the single eye of her heart, instead of the eyes in her head. That’s the eye that sees inner reality and the world of Spirit. However, she still doesn’t think I’m real. I say it all depends on one’s definition of real. The membrane between Margaret and me is very thin, and the crossing over is easy.
The path we walked together was a sacred one, not bound by space and time. Because you are alive, you may find yourself on a similar path one day, trying to open your eyes to the Sacred Mystery. We may have more in common than you think. If this novel happens to get into your hands, I hope you can join us in our dance of discovery.
By the way, Margaret is still unaware of one last thing. The circle of my life and hers is not yet complete. We have only reached the opening stages of our journey. We have only been awakened. Our story is not over.
Other influences on my journey
So who or what else influenced me on my visionary path?
I could start with nature, my constant companion growing up as a child — talk about opening up and clearing the mind. Or I could mention how church on Sunday did its number on me as far as attempting to capture the un-capturable, share the un-sharable, and show the un-showable. But to narrow it down to the tangible, here’s my list:
FAIRY TALES: Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” I still own the original book of fairy tales that fascinated me as a child, a thick volume now missing several pages and held together with postal tape. Fairy tales taught me about choices and consequences, jealousy and greed, cruelty and redemption. They taught me the beauty of words and how to use my imagination and dare to dream. But most of all, fairy tales taught me that in reality all is not what it seems.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Oh how I loved Rod Serling and the famous preludes to his television series when I was a teen. But I didn’t discover until later how closely they parallel what I now think of as visionary fiction (I have emphasized some of his words in bold, so you know what I mean).
Season 1: There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.
Season 2-3: You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, The Twilight Zone.
Season 4: You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance of things and ideas; you’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone series, which ran for five seasons from 1959-1964, consisted of stories depicting paranormal, futuristic, and unusual events, each story featuring some sort of plot twist and moral. In 2002 it was ranked number 26 of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and in 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the third best written TV series ever, YET, in its infancy, it struggled to find a receptive audience of television viewers (Sound familiar?).
Ken Meadows: Earth Medicine and The Medicine Way left such an impression on me during the early stages of my writing that I ended up using the directional paths of the Native American Medicine Wheel to map out the journey of my protagonist. The lessons she learned on each path became a separate novel.
Hal Zina Bennett: In 2002, I read an article by Bennett titled “Visionary Fiction; Rediscovering Ancient Paths to Truth,” where his definition of visionary fiction so closely matched my writing that I believed it had finally found a home. For more on Hal Zina Bennett’s view of visionary fiction, read The Puzzle of Visionary Fiction.
James Long: Ferney (a story of reincarnation) was one of the first novels I read that fit the category of visionary fiction. When I asked James Long recently if he considered Ferney an example of visionary fiction, he said:
I suppose I’ve never really set out to write my book with that sort of categorization in my head. The stories grow and need to be told in their particular way and it is probably more for the reader to make that judgment than the writer? I find certainty on these things gets further away as the years pass.
Dean Koontz: In response to my post at VFA Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer? Koontz wrote:
After a long career as a novelist, I’ve learned that what anyone writes about my work, good or bad, will only occasionally, very occasionally, be written with true insight regarding my intentions. For so many years, I have denied being a horror novelist, never thought I was, and struggled to prevent earlier publishers from putting that word on my books.
You got to the heart of what I try to give readers when you mentioned hope and healing, and spoke of seeking to “help readers see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.
Joanne Harris: Harris’s books satisfy my adult need for fairy tales.
Chocolat (in Harris’s own words): I wanted to write about magic. Not the popular view, but about the magic of everyday things and the way something quite ordinary can, given the right circumstances, take on extraordinary properties.
Blackberry Wine: There is something magical about this wine; something which brings the past to life, an agent of transformation. Under its influence, time can work backwards and the dead return to life.
The Girl With No Shadow: In this book, magic is everywhere, although there are still “rational” explanations if you choose to look for them.
So that’s my case.
Though I didn’t consciously choose the genre of visionary fiction to categorize my fiction, I have, over the years, found plenty of reasons to be glad I did.