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Good Weed, Good Writers, and Writing about Religion in Fiction
Thanks to everyone who has read Switchers, my debut novel about teens in 1996 who get into a time travel war against their adult selves, and they time travel by switching bodies with each other. Kinda like Freaky Friday meets Red Dawn, or so someone once told me.
I’d like to talk more today about other books/writers. And other stuff. I got this whole formula:
- A Good Thing: Pharmhouse Wellness (100% Locally Owned)
- Indie Author/Book Spotlight: Jennifer Soucy
- Random Thought: If I Had Started Novel…ing 10 Years Earlier
- Upcoming Stuff: Joshua Marsella’s New Short Story Collection, Hymns from the Dirt, Drops 10/14/2023
- Updates: Thoughts (& Consequences) of Writing about Religion in Fiction
A Good Thing: Pharmhouse Wellness (100% Locally Owned)
Pharmhouse Wellness is a dispensary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They are the ONLY one around here that is totally owned by people who are actually from here. I shop there pretty much exclusively (unless I’m out of town). And they sell my book there! Listen to their story, as told by Casey (who owns Pharmhouse with his wife Megan):
Ep.56 | Casey Kornoelje – Grand Rapids’ Only Local in the Cannabis Game – Creative Ops
Indie Author/Book Spotlight: Jennifer Soucy
Jennifer Soucy was the first author to come on my podcast. She’s actually been on it 3 times, and here’s one of here appearances:
Creative Ops | Ep. 22 | Jennifer Soucy (Again!) – Horror, Books & Movies, Writing & Publishing, and Friend Talk – Creative Ops
She has several novels out, as well as stories appearing in a few different collections. Click HERE for a full list of her work.
A Synopsis of Demon in Me:
Layla survived years of addiction, burying the most traumatic recollections of her past. She escaped Hell, slapped a tourniquet on her toxic memories, and found a measure of peace as a drummer in Las Vegas. Ten years later, she’s finally moved on . . . until she’s called home to Connecticut, a last plea from her dying mother.
Back to Blackpool, where her estranged family awaits alongside her old enemies. The trip awakens her inner demons, voices who warn that history may repeat itself. A new cycle of violence begins, echoing events Layla barely escaped once. The voices urge her to fight, reminding her of wrongs that were never made right. If she gives in, she may lose both her sanity and her soul – a steep price to save a family who’d given up on her once.
Layla’s reached a crossroads, a choice between an insatiable thirst for vengeance or forgiveness for those who harmed her. But some crimes are unforgivable, and some wounds refuse to be forgotten.
A Synopsis of The Mother We Share:
She yearned for the mother she never knew, wishing for a whole family. Something heard and replied… Evie Bonaventura is terrified when a strange girl breaks into her room, a creature with her dead mother’s eyes. Dad confesses Evie had a twin, but she died along with their mother who was unable to survive the devastating childbirth. Mom swore on her deathbed that her baby was kidnapped by fairies—a changeling, but that was impossible. Myths aren’t real. Yet the otherworldly girl continues to stalk Evie before attacking their father and others. Beltane approaches, their 18th birthday and the night when fairy powers peak. Evie’s determined to protect her family, confident because heroes always win—don’t they? Tragedy strikes, forcing Evie to act. She embarks on an adventurous rescue mission from Boston to Ireland, aided by an unlikely band of brave friends, legendary creatures, and a colorful coven of witches. Evie has a choice: destroy her twin sister or save her, in honor of the mother they once shared.
Random Thought: If I Had Started Novel…ing 10 Years Earlier
Prefacing this by saying that I’m 40 now, someone asked me why I didn’t start writing novels 10 years ago…
I would’ve been writing while I was teaching. That would’ve been hard. I actually tried once or twice to start a novel while I was working full time, but I never got very far, let-alone finished. If I had the time 10 years ago…
I don’t know. I think I started when I was ready. I’m a good enough writer, I suppose, that I would’ve come up with something entertaining, but…I don’t know. Things sometimes happen when they’re ready to happen. And that’s how I feel about that. And if you have something that’s bugging you and you just want it to happen already–take a breather and be happy for the things you have now that were past goals. Ya know?
Upcoming Stuff: Joshua Marsella’s New Short Story Collection, Hymns from the Dirt, Drops 10/14/2023
Indie horror author Joshua Marsella, who I mentioned in the first of the “new” blog, has a new book of eight creepy stories coming out called Hymns from the Dirt. October 14 is the official release date. My copy is soon on the way, so I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it in the coming days/weeks.
Listen to him on my podcast:
Creative Ops | Ep.38 | Joshua Marsella – Author of ”Scratches” and ”Severed” – Creative Ops
Updates: Thoughts (& Consequences) of Writing about Religion in Fiction
It’s been over a year since Switchers came out. A few people have asked if I’m going to write another novel. The answer is yes, I’m writing another one right now.
You’re welcome, world.
My new book is about supernatural stuff, involving a grim reaper(ish) type character, a good cop, a bad cop, an alcoholic with PTSD, a woman with odd supernatural abilities, a fictional rural cult, and…RELIGION. (Hence painting in the banner.)
Originally I was kind of in the mind space of trashing religion with this book. OK, I was going to go scorched earth on it. See, I grew up in a church led by a priest who embezzled millions of dollars from his congregation over decades. That was just the first of several things that turned me off to religion. (I’ll spare the rest.) As I and some people close to me have been on spiritual journeys that have led us away from the organized religion we grew up in, some of us have felt backlash from family and (now former) church friends. The intentional disconnect from the secular world and anyone in it on the part of the churchgoers really soured me on religion. Particularly its practitioners. Because that feeling of rejection and abandonment at the drop of a metaphorical hat is real, and it sucks.
But as I was writing, and am still, my characters have gone through some stuff and have actually found some relief from church. Because that’s also real. In the story I use a traditional church without a full-time priest, regularly calling on its retired priest, or just people from the congregation to deliver sermons as a counterbalance. The laidback atmosphere of a church without a real central figure in command plays opposite the cult and its leader. I didn’t intend for the “regular” church to become a part of the story, but…that’s how it goes, right writers?
Church leaders and congregations can, have, and will continue to do terrible things. But at the same time, they are also clothing, feeding, and sheltering the homeless. They’re sending care packages to service members in dangerous areas. They send money and supplies to places and people ravaged by wars or natural disasters. Some of them even go to remote corners of the earth to help people in need.
So this book is changing my view on religion is as complicated as ever. And as I sit in a coffee shop after transcribing my latest writing session, the table next to me is having a conversation about how all Christians are cult members who are inherently evil and/or stupid.
I’ve felt that feeling.
But writing about it from all sides has really opened something inside me. Maybe empathy for the people in the churches, even if I don’t care much for the church or its message. And I think that empathy, relating to the idea that everyone is just trying to figure their shit out–one way or another, is going to be healthy for me as a person, but it’s also going to into my writing in the form of people who aren’t bad, they just are desperate not to feel alone in a scary world.
And no, I’m not shitting on religious people by saying that, and don’t misquote me as “feeling bad” for religious people. Empathy is different. I can feel and understand why people are attracted to religion. And if you start with some basic understanding of what drives people into any organization like that, you don’t immediately lose sight of their identity behind that of the organization. Even if they do.
Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you saw something you liked in here. If you click on the book links and buy something, I might get a-lil-somethin-somethin. (They’re Amazon Associate links…)
Christopher Tallon is the author of the dark, adventurous, time-travel novel Switchers.