Thanks to guest interviewer and reviewer of The Transition Witness, Doryanne Wilkin, an artist and Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy practitioner.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull came into the world in 1970 as an anomaly. By the time Paulo Coehlo wrote The Alchemist in 1988, the new genre had a name: visionary fiction. And in the years since 1993, James Redfield proved it also had an audience; The Celestine Prophecy sold more than 20 million copies.
Now, a new author, Teresa Tsalaky, is helping visionary fiction come of age. She is showing that spiritual wisdom can be woven into a book that contains the best elements of literature: linguistic brio and a piercing look at the human condition.
The Transition Witness is an adventure in several worlds. There is the utopian world of the villages and the dystopian world of the dodecahedrons. There is also the interplay between the physical world and the metaphysical world beyond the veil of death. As the characters weave back and forth between these worlds, they journey toward their destinies – one to her redemption, and the other to his enlightenment.
Here, the author answers several questions about the book and her process of writing it.
Did you set out to write in the visionary fiction genre?
No. At the time, I had never even heard the term. As the story came out of my fingers and onto the page, I was a bit dismayed, because it sounded like science fiction, and that would not be my choice of a genre. But I knew it wasn’t really sci-fi. Last week, another author invited me to join the Visionary Fiction Alliance. I was so thrilled to learn that my book had a genre.
What can you tell us about the plot without spoiling it?
It’s about a woman whose job is to verify the deaths of people undergoing forced euthanasia. She’s a transition witness, and she hates herself for taking on that task. But she took the job because it would provide a way to escape the dodecahedron that covers the totalitarian society in which she lives. No one can survive outside the dodecs, because the weaponization of weather caused flash freezes and other severe weather events. But our protagonist will try, because for her, freedom is more important than life itself. Telling you what happens would spoil it, but I can say that through a series of adventures, she redeems herself and discovers her true purpose.
I heard that your writing process was a bit unusual. Tell us about it.
One morning, I offered a silent prayer, asking if any great author on the other side wanted to collaborate with me on a novel. The name Dante popped into my head. I then sat down at my iPad and wrote the first sentence that came to mind, and then the second sentence, and so on, until three chapters had finished themselves. Three months later, I wrote the last sentence, and tears came to my eyes, not because I had finished writing a novel, but because of what the main character had overcome and who she had become.
The writing has a style of its own. Was that you or Dante?
Well, first, I’m not saying that Dante wrote it. I may have simply tapped into my subconscious — that ninety percent of the brain that we rarely use. I’ve talked to other authors who use this same process. I jokingly call it “plot without thought.” As far as the use of the language goes, it’s definitely my style. As a kid, I wanted to be a poet when I grew up. Then I discovered you couldn’t make a living at that, so I went into journalism. But I’ve always woven elements of poetry into my writing, whether a hard news story, magazine article or now, this novel.
What is your favorite sentence from the book?
Of course, I like the book’s slogan: “Sometimes life begins after the last breath.” And I love the mantra that the main character uses to remember how to survive on the outside: “Wood burns. Roots nourish. Branches shelter. Leaves heal.” The very last sentence is my favorite, but I won’t spoil it. Mostly, I like the sentences that are poetic due to alliteration or meter or metaphor. Here’s one: “From far away, he must have looked like a spider’s prey, caught in a great iron web.”
Why did you publish independently?
I spent two decades in the newspaper industry, and for the last five years of it, I was the lonely voice predicting its demise. I see the exact same thing beginning to happen to traditional book publishing. Books and news will always be published, but one day, there will no longer be gatekeepers. There is now the opportunity for a very democratic process of readers choosing what’s newsworthy or what should gain best-seller status. I simply noticed that reality emerging.
Speaking of best-seller status, your book hit the top fifty in Amazon’s metaphysical fiction category two weeks after publication, and now it’s on a top-ten list. What advice do you have for other authors who want to successfully launch their independent novels?
Don’t be misled by the numbers. Getting to the top of a category does not always equate to stellar sales. But my advice would be these three things: Believe in your book. Never give up. Don’t follow the crowd; do something different. I almost got kicked off of Goodreads for doing something different, but it was worth the risk.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I can’t believe I’m saying this, because running a profitable business is what I do now, but I will keep writing even if it never pays off financially. I have to. I got that first taste of writer’s heroin, and now I’m hooked. Plus, we need to find out what happens to the character Gemini, don’t we?
The Transition Witness is available on Amazon Kindle.