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 #1 at Amazon for Metaphysical Fiction. Waking Maya is the story of a young woman on a mystical quest that takes her across the country.
Why did you write this book?
I got the idea just before my daughter was born. I was feeling morbid one night, wondering what would happen if I, well, passed on… What would I do? I would never know her. My answer was that I would write a book for her, a kind of extended personal letter, pouring out everything I thought was important or wise in the hope that it would be of use to her one day. That was the inspiration for creating the journal Maya finds, which starts her on her journey.
Why do you think readers will relate to Maya’s life, which even she sees as unfulfilling?
She sees it that way at the start. But things change. I grew up in suburbia, 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. With Maya, the journal shows up and explodes all that. It pushes her out of her world and she’s forced to deal with it. 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.
What does she do?
She follows where the journal takes her—into the unknown. She gets to see a world that’s like another world within this one. And to raise the stakes and really challenge her, she’s called upon to be a participant, when all she’s ever been is a spectator.
This sounds like what the mythologist Joseph Campbell called the hero’s journey.
Exactly. Our hero enters a difficult situation in which she’s required to grow beyond herself, to do more than she thought possible. After it’s all over, she must return to her life, only she’s not the same person. She’s been transformed. So whereas she began as a girl, when it’s over she’s become a woman.
So it’s like a coming-of-age story?
There is that element, yes. It’s the journey of a young woman searching for meaning—within herself and in relation to the greater world—and the growth that happens along the way.
Let’s talk about the metaphysics in the novel. Are these your own ideas?
Most of them have been circulating for some time. Weaving them together perhaps is new. One idea is that our physical reality is “created” by each person through ageless processes operating at a deep, unconscious level within us all. Things don’t just happen to you or come to you, life comes from you. And further, there is purpose to be found everywhere and at all times, even if you can’t figure out what it is; even when things appear to make no sense to you.
What are some other ideas in the book?
There is one that posits that the passionate desires of large groups of people, en masse, coalesce in the collective mind to create consequential global events and cultural trends. Even religions are seen as being willed by the group, albeit not necessarily consciously as in “Let’s have a new religion,” but rather as potentials that are ripe for exploration. There’s another idea that says that the mind, in certain altered states, can access this kind of information and possibly use it.
Use it? How?
To influence future events.
Hold on. You’re saying the future can be altered?
I’m suggesting that future probabilities do exist based on what’s happening in the present. For example, right now I’m talking to you, so the probability of my continuing on with my sentence is high, as is my taking a pause or a breath. But the probability of me getting in my car is low. What I’m saying in the book is that it might be possible to get me to want to go out to the car, thus “altering” the future.
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 human world, the cause-and-effect laws that bring about experience—the “essence” of things. Explorations of the topic, though, tends to be dry. I’ve tried to present it in the context of an adventure that’s fun, engages on a visceral level and has characters you care about and can relate to.
What authors or books influenced Waking Maya?
I’ve always liked the Seth books by Jane Roberts. They taught me a lot about how the world might work beneath the surface. I also really like Eckhart Tolle, and the practice of Transcendental Meditation, which deepens experience. And, I guess, in a way, the success of The Celestine Prophesy a few years back sort of gave me permission to write Waking Maya.
That book created the genre that’s now called visionary fiction. These are novels set in worlds where the underlying spiritual and metaphysical principles can be observed and explored, and can even appear as characters in the story. But unlike, say, the Harry Potter books, a visionary fiction world is our own world. It’s not a fantasy locale with magical creatures and different laws of nature where people can fly on brooms. Visionary fiction tries to highlight latent or psychic abilities that may really be present in humans, that perhaps show themselves only rarely or in certain gifted individuals. Phenomena such as mystical experiences, clairvoyance, visions, things like that.
Are you saying that a visionary fiction world is the real world?
Why not? Maybe these phenomena are happening right now, all around us, only we’re not aware of it. The main thing about visionary fiction—and now I’m putting myself out on a limb—is that the author believes what he or she is writing about may actually be true.
So you believe that cultural change comes from people’s thoughts alone?
My rationalist friends would have a good laugh at this, but when it comes to theories, for me it’s innocent until proven guilty. I like to investigate ones that feel valid to me even if on the surface they may seem far-out. Then I see what happens. If an idea doesn’t hold up against scrutiny, I let it go. Or, if a more intriguing one comes up, I check that out, too.
Waking Maya is self-published. Had you tried to find a traditional publisher?
Yes. I had sent out an early draft and landed an agent at Writer’s House, an established literary agency in New York. They sent the manuscript around and several publishers were interested, and one even made us a verbal offer, but in the end it just didn’t work out. Then I got another agent and the same thing happened. The problem is, there’s no real visionary fiction niche in the publishing business. It falls outside of traditional categories. So, I self-published. And it’s worked out really well. People are downloading the book online, which is great.
What are your hopes for the success of Waking Maya?
Well, I hope people will enjoy it. I think of it as a fun ride into the heart of a few of the most intriguing spiritual or New Age beliefs out there, intended for readers who perhaps only experience this kind of subject matter in non-fiction books that can be very serious. Waking Maya is about what-ifs, possibilities, adventure, but above all, it’s about getting lost in a story that’s meant to challenge while it’s being enjoyed.
Learn more at WakingMaya.com.