Author Warren Goldie
The Iowa Source sat down with author Warren Goldie to talk about his novel, Waking Maya, which won Book of the Month at BookReview.com and rose to #2 at Amazon for Metaphysical Fiction. Waking Maya is the story of a young woman on a mystical quest that takes her across the country. (Read the review that appeared in the April 2014 issue: Waking Maya.)
Why did you write this book?
I got the idea just before my daughter was born. One night I was feeling morbid and I wondered, “What if I got a terminal illness and died when she was still an infant? How would I spend my remaining months?” My answer was that I would write a book for her, a kind of extended personal letter, pouring out everything—what I knew, what I did, my beliefs, my life, all of it—in the hope that it would be of use to her when she was old enough to read it.
Waking Maya has quite a lot of philosophy and metaphysics. That doesn’t sound all that personal.
There is both the personal and the philosophical in there, just like in a person. If you look deeply at someone, you can sense the philosophical and metaphysical issues within them. These are the things that inform a person’s daily life. So it really is personal. Most people don’t question their core beliefs, but they are in there, behind even the most mundane decisions, influencing everything.
If you believe the universe is a chaotic, meaningless affair, that the soul has no reality, and that physical life is all there is, then you live every day influenced by the knowledge that one day you will be annihilated. Wouldn’t you say that that affects your decisions? Absolutely. Alternatively, if you believe in life after death, then you think your life is some kind of ongoing process, and so that will affect your decisions. In that scenario, you will probably look at mistakes or wrong decisions differently than in the first one, because you’ll see them as a part of a larger, meaningful process.
Why do you think readers will relate to your main character’s life, which even she sees as unfulfilling?
That’s true, she does see it that way. But things change. I grew up in the suburbs, and I often felt there was something missing, that there had to be more to life than hanging out at shopping malls and going to movies. If you probe a little, many people feel this way. With the character of Maya, something enters into her humdrum existence that pushes her out of all that. She almost doesn’t have a choice. Well, she does, but it’s a choice for or against life, which is an easy one to make. She finds an artifact left by her father, a man she never met, and follows where it leads, which is into adventure. She gets to glimpse a world she never knew existed. And to raise the stakes and make her even more uncomfortable, she is called upon to be a participant, when all she’s ever been is a spectator.
Like what the mythologist Joseph Campbell called the hero’s journey?
Exactly. Maya is thrust into a challenging world in which she is required to outgrow herself—to reach really far down. And after it’s all over, she must return to the everyday world; only she’s not the same. She’s changed. So whereas she began as a girl, when it’s all over she’s become a woman.
So it’s like a coming-of-age story?
There is that element, yes. It’s very much a personal journey of a young woman searching for meaning, both in herself and in the greater world.
Let’s talk about the metaphysics in the novel. Are these your own ideas?
Well, I’m not sure they’re entirely mine. Many of them have been circulating for a long time. Putting them together in a story like this might be new, perhaps. One idea is that physical reality, and by that I mean the events of one’s life, is created by each individual unconsciously, meaning that events aren’t random occurrences. Things don’t happen to you; everything comes from you. And further, there is purpose everywhere, even if you can’t figure it out, even when things appear to make no sense at all.
So, then, just walking down the road is meaningful?
In this way of thinking, the smallest details of your life have meaning, yes. But in order to buy into it, you have to believe there is a larger story at work, which may be invisible to you.
I can concede the possibility of that. What are some other ideas in the book?
There is one that says that the passionate desires of large groups of people, en masse and unconsciously, again, coalesce to form events, only in this case, really big ones, like cultural movements. So, for example, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, ancient Greece, Rome, and even religions are seen as being willed by the group. Not necessarily as in “let’s have a new religion,” but rather as potentials that are right for the time. They don’t just happen by accident, in other words. There’s another idea I explore in the book, and that is that the mind, in certain altered states, can access this information and possibly even influence it.
So then the future can be altered?
The probability of one thing happening over another could be influenced, yes. That would be a possibility.
How would you describe metaphysics to someone who’s never heard of the concept?
I’d say it’s the study of the mechanics underlying the physical world, the cause-and-effect laws that bring about experience, the how’s of things as opposed to the why’s of them. I think people are interested. But at the same time I understand that most people are busy with the affairs of their lives. It’s useful, I think, to present metaphysical ideas in the context of a story that is fun to read, that engages them on a visceral level, with characters they care about and who they can relate to. You know, make it interesting. That was the goal, anyway. Whether or not I’ve achieved that is up to the reader.
What authors or books influenced Waking Maya?
I’ve always liked the Seth books by Jane Roberts. They taught me a lot about metaphysics, about how the world might work beneath the surface. I also really like Eckhart Tolle. And, I guess, in a way, the success of The Celestine Prophesy back in 1995 sort of gave me permission to write Waking Maya.
That book created the genre that’s now called visionary fiction. I’m comfortable writing in it. These are novels set in a world in which the underlying spiritual and metaphysical principles can be seen, observed, explored, even elevated to the status of characters in the story. But unlike, say, the Harry Potter books, a visionary fiction world is our own world, not a made-up world with creatures and different physical laws where people can fly on brooms and the like. Visionary fiction is different than that. It highlights latent or psychic abilities believed by some to be present in human beings, and that perhaps only show themselves rarely. Mystical experiences, clairvoyance, visions, things like that.
Are you saying that a visionary fiction world is the real world?
Why not? Maybe these things are happening right now, all around us. It’s possible. The main thing about visionary fiction—and here I’m putting myself out on a limb—is that the author believes that what he’s writing about may actually be true.
So you believe that cultural change comes from people’s thoughts?
My scientist friends would have my head for this, but when it comes to theories, for me it’s innocent until proven guilty. I like to investigate far-out theories. If a more intriguing explanation comes up, hey, I’m game for learning about it.
What are your hopes for the success of Waking Maya?
Certainly I’m hoping that people will be interested in the book. Nowadays, with the rise of interest in spirituality, there seems to be a readership for such stories. After I read a few visionary fiction books, I said, “Hey, I’d like to try to do that, too.” It took a few years, but here it is.
To order on Amazon: Waking Maya
For more information, see WakingMaya.com.