With 7 days to go in my Kickstarter (and 83% of the funds raised - thank you!), I've been getting a lot of questions as to what inspired the idea for my novel. "You probably get that all the time," I'll hear. I don't, but the frequency is increasing. As I seek to arrange interviews to promote my book it occurred to me I should probably organize my thoughts into an answer.
Though there are many positive experiences to draw from, the sad truth is, the path that led me to write this novel began with a tragedy many of us are all too familiar with. Nearly thirteen years ago, I was one of many Americans who watched Manhattan's twin towers erupt into flames and ultimately fall under their own weight. I don't need to further recount the specifics of the 9/11 tragedy - we all know them.
Like most, I was filled with unmitigated shock and outrage at the death of nearly three thousand innocent people. Deaths, that would prompt a global response to the instigators so powerful it would ultimately touch the lives of virtually every person on this planet. How many times have we heard "Everything changed after 9/11?" Certainly, my children, who were born years after, have no idea of the world that was before.
Watching the news and the incessant replays of crumbling towers was bad enough. But worse, for me, was discovering footage of other parts of the world where people cheered it. To some, this tragedy was an event to be applauded. And I couldn't help but to think: "How the hell could anyone ever believe this is a good thing?"
I had to understand this. I read everything I could about the culture that produced Al Queda, the grievances they harbored against Western Civilization, their religion, their history, their sympathizers. But ultimately, what I found is that those who cheered the murder of three thousand people, cheered because they believed it to be a good thing for them.
We can debate all day as to why they believed it - that's a larger discussion. The point is, is that they believed it to their core. Look to history, and you will find countless examples of populations being massacred, murdered, exterminated all because one side believed it to be a good thing. A friend of mine, John Rowe, has been working for years in the Omo Valley in Ethopia to put a end to the habitual infanticide that happens because tribal elders believe babies born out of wedlock are Mingi (cursed) and will bring ruin to the valley and their way of life. For centuries these tribes murdered their own babies to prevent this. It sounds crazy - but they believed it!
After processing all of this, I had to ask myself: "What do I believe? Why do I believe it? Is it worth still believing?" For the next five years I searched for my own personal answers. I read and experienced everything I could about various religions, quantum physics, spiritualism, the latest thinking about the origins of the universe and life. I challenged every assumption I ever had about ANYTHING. What was real? Am I real? Do I even exist? What is existence? Does God exist? What is the point of ANY OF THIS?!?!? Is there a point?
At times I was depressed. At times I convinced myself that I'd figured it out, only to have a new thought pop into my head the next day that would shatter my momentum.
I didn't discuss this a whole lot with others. I didn't want people to think I was losing my grip. I still had a family that I loved and had to care for, a job to do and bills to pay. I would occasionally talk to my wife about it, sometimes a good friend, but this journey was very personal and something I felt only I could truly understand, because ultimately, it was about discovering myself.
Finally - after years of struggling through it - I came to a place in my life where things made sense to me. My life had purpose. Did I solve all the mysteries of the universe? Hell no. But I understood who I was, what I chose to believe, and why I chose to believe it.
For the record, I believe in life, and if one values it at all, one wouldn't cheer for the death of three thousand non-combatants in any circumstance. That's just me.
But more to the point, I believe that our capacity to believe is perhaps humankind's greatest and most terrible power. Charged by our convictions, we have created and destroyed entire worlds and civilizations since the dawn of our existence. What we choose to believe continually shapes and transforms our experience every second of every day. This power makes for a pretty cool premise for my novel.
Now, I'm not looking to preach. That isn't what this book is about. If you're looking for a self-help guide on discovering "the secret to life" this isn't it. If you're looking for an examination of the conspiracy that some believe surround the events of 9/11 - this isn't it either.
The God Thought is an action thriller with characters that display unbelievable powers and kick all sorts of ass.
It's meant to entertain.
But if you're reading it, and if it gets you thinking about your own life - if it gets you wondering about the universe you live in - if it gets you to question and challenge your own convictions - even for a fleeting second - well, that's pretty cool too.