|You created a world with two parallel plots - Michael's experiences that the reader learns about through his journal, and Sean's journey twenty years later. How did you keep your characters and storylines straight while writing the novel?
Actually, the two plot lines were rather easy to keep straight,
as they were thematically the same story and were designed
to complement one another. In my mind, it was an easy way
to compose a story dealing with the elements of karma and
multiple lifetimes, as it was similar to a round in musical
composition. The two voices were essentially singing the same
melody at different times, but still harmonizing, still operating
in the same register. The plots and characters were on some
basic level the same, operating in different eras, changed
by time, and place, and circumstance, but with the same
The book is primarily set in Ireland. Why did you choose that setting? How much did you intend to use Ireland as a character?
While I believe the characters and ideas in the book
to be universal and relevant to the present moment, the
underlying philosophies and belief systems that inform the
novel are ancient, and Ireland is a place that has a unique and
continuous connection with its own past.
It is the one corner of Europe where the Celts were never
truly conquered and assimilated, and because of this there is
a deeply ingrained culture that bleeds through the overlying
modern one. It also has a sense of magical realism, where
all things are possible and where spirituality has never
been completely replaced by modern cynicism. Even the
government, as corrupt and rational as it can be, builds roads
around raths for fear of disturbing the spirits of the place.
The Irish culture also understands layered complexity, where
nothing is as simple as it appears on the surface, where stories
don't need to be factual to be considered emotionally true, and
where "Celtic knots" are considered to be simple designs.
I couldn't imagine a better place to set a multilayered story
full of love, loss, philosophy, and ancient beliefs that didn't let
the facts get in the way of a good story.
Have you experienced or seen any of the ancient Irish rituals that you describe in the book?
The rituals in the book are based on bits and pieces of
family tradition and phrases that are inherent to the culture,
such as "in another lifetime" or "he's an old soul." It is not
something that is on the surface or even admitted to in my
own family but seeps out in unexpected moments. The eyes of
an infant bring out the old beliefs as the baby's soul and "soul's
age" is weighed by the depth of expression in its eyes. <next page>