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It Arose in Dreams

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Black Inked Pearl follows Kate, a young Irish girl, as she searches for her lost lover. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

It began in a dream when I was in New Zealand visiting  my daughter and granddaughter who live there. This was, essentially, the first page (and chapter) of the novel when Kate,  panicked and feeling she was too young for love runs away desperately as her best childhood friend (I never learn his name) tries for the first time, a teenager to kiss her. That scene, that act,  is the foundation for the story as she years later discovers that she as frantically and desperately  loves him as she had frantically fled from him years before

I say ‘dream’ as that is the nearest word I can get, vision perhaps they would have called in in the middle Ages. But that word’s a bit misleading.  In two ways.

First, it wasn’t exactly a dream in the sense of being, asleep more an experience in that liminal in-between state of being neither awake nor asleep but somehow fully both – the whole novel came in that somehow enchanted enspelled state ( I suppose you might call it ‘inspiration’). I planned nothing, but it was still a chapter a night, written down effortlessly (I don’t even remember doing it! or, by now, what the words were. it surprises me every time – so many times – I reread the book now).

Second, ‘dream’ suggests something visual, But it was more a kind of very intense node of emotion, something very personal to me (in a metaphorical sort of way the whole book is kind of autobiographical – what serious novel is not? – and the second chapter about a small girl experiencing the magical world of Donegal – is directly so.

Then the novel – and Kate –  just grew. I came to know the hero well, but wish  that my ‘dreams’ had given me his name

Black Inked Pearl is told in a dreamlike, almost stream of consciousness, style of writing. Why did you want to tell the story in this style and what were the challenges?

Well, it arose in dreams and the writing essential came from, and took place in, my unconscious – at least that is the only way I can understand and it. So the style is scarcely surprising, it was little under my deliberate control and almost not at all revised later.

I didn’t know in what style I was writing – the process was almost unconscious – but when it was finished I saw (or rather heard when I read it aloud ih my inner ear as I always do with my writing)that   it had the rhythms and sonorities of African and Irish story-telling (my mother was a wondrous story-binder) and that some literary giants (Joyce, Fulkner, Hopkins … many others) had written in similar styles. Poetry is mixed with prose – well in a way, as with its oral resonances (a subject on which I have written in academic contexts, in Oral Poetry for example), it is all poetry, some fully, some ore in a kind of blank verse: all unexpected by me!

Also, the content. Part of what I learned as the story revealed  itself to me was that the division between dream and reality is an elusive and perhaps non–existent one.

Problems – well some of my readers have problems with it! Some object because they cannot abide what they see as ‘incorrect’ grammar orthography words, not what they learned in the first form at school  – I appreciate that they have tried but think they miss the point (how do they cope with Shakespeare?).

Others including my deeply wise best friend, get a bit lost in the plot from time to time, too full of Celtic mists said one.  It’s too late now to amend that (and maybe it is just a necessary feature of the novel – mystic, mysterious – anyway) but I have tried to make things clearer, while not abandoning what has now has now become my signature style,  in the related ‘Pearl of the Seas’ and, on the way, The helix pearl’ (the latter the same story but this time as told by the garrulouos ever-sprarklng laughing sea (a very different perspective but equally born in dreams). I wonder what is coming next ..

Oh yes, the unusual spellings were loved by the Garn Press, the lovely publishers,  but at the same time gave the copy-editor real problems. Microsoft, can yoy believe it (the cheeky thing)  kept automatically ‘correcting’ the ‘wrong’ spellings. In the end they got me to send a special list to add to their ‘glossary’ of all my new spellings and word and abbreviations etc. I thought that would be quick and easy – about fifty cases? Whew, no! They tell me, incredibly, that it was nearly two thousand! Don’t believe it! Ut they ear that’s true. Anyway, hey did a great job whatever.

Kate is an enthralling and curious character. What were the driving ideals behind her characters development throughout the story?

 As I say it wasn’t conscious since it  all came in dreams. So in a way no ‘driving ideas’.

Still I have noticed some abiding themes , detected, later, in the text, as if looking at someone else’s writing (well in way it’s NOT exactly mine, not t=in the normal way anyway  – not of the deliberate, conscious careful academically trained me). /tow especially, the ones `I swoudl like to think readers will take form the novel (and from the movie if it gets made a I hope it one day will)

First as I said earlier is the understanding , that we may pretend or think we do, but that actually we do not really know the difference between reality and dreams. Given the way we have been brought up as children of the scientific revolution, this is an exceedingly difficult idea, is it not – but so important to try to accept, specially now as we become more aware of the lives, and, in a way, precious value of those with dementia. Perhaps it is only through literature and metaphor that we can eventually begin to grasp this.

Second is the thought, revealed near the end, that it is and was indeed right as Kate did, to search for others and try to help them carry their burdens. But that in the end it isourselves we are responsible for, it is our own souls for which we have to answer before (whatever metaphor we prefer here) the last judgement throne. As Kate in the final chapters had to do.

Also, after I had finished the book, I was inspired by the little butterfly that, unknown to me, the publishers had put, with the pearl and the jagged black, on the beautiful cover. ‘Butterfly’ in Greek –elsewhere too I think – is the same word and concept  as for the soul, breath, spiritus, life:  psyche (as in ‘psychology’, ‘psychiatry’). So the soul – figured as Kate, as every man – flies through the black ink print of the story and at the end settles down on the back cover, life fulfilled story told, with her wings folded.

Kate’s discovery of herself at the end was also, I now see, a kind of discovery of myself as person, as soul.

What are some of your inspirations as a writer that helped shape Black Inked Pearl

Again, ‘dreams’, my unconscious I suppose. But, as one perceptive reviewer put it, only someone with my background and personality would have had those dreams. So – my life, my loves, my experiences of the resonances and styles and images of great literature, above all Shakespeare, Rumi, Homer and the Bible.

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An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.

Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.

On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not in vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.

The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.

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Look for the Hidden

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Entrancement is a collection of essays from educated professionals with different viewpoints on the topics of dreaming, trancing and the collective unconscious. What inspired you to write this book and bring all these different fields together?

Two things I suppose.

First of all, my own extended experiences over several years of a kind of heightened consciousness in dreaming, ‘musicking’ and of, somehow, communicating with others both near and far away outside time and space. This is described in the first chapter (my own) of the book: ‘There’ (an essay which earned an award from New Millennium writing).

Second I was further inspired by following this up in wider reading and discovering that not only in anthropology (my own discipline) are such things starting to be seriously studied as something of here and now, not just of supposedly strange folk far away or long ago, but also in innovative, if as yet unconventional, scientific thinking. Remarkable. There are now huge numbers of best-selling books by hard-nosed scientists inspired by Einsteinian thinking and, for example, quark theory on, for example, telepathy, dreaming, the consciousness of the universe, life after death and communication – long known and accepted – between dead and living.

The book begins with your own experience on trancing. What is ‘trancing’ and how did that experience happen?

Too long to answer properly here – read the account in the first chapter.

‘Trancing’ is a good concept and nearest to what I and others have experienced. It does however give a somewhat too explicit and, as it were, contrived and deliberate impression. Better to say the experience of somehow being outside time and space and seeing more clearly than in ordinary life’ (though it is there too, hidden).

One major problem indeed (discussed in the concluding chapter) is the absence of an accepted terminology to describe such things.

You bring together experts from many different fields in this book. Were they as enthusiastic about this book as you are?

YES. Both in taking up my initial invitation, in responding to it in their own terms, in the writing and, now, in receiving the finished volume.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Look for the hidden in your own everyday life, find the extraordinary in the ordinary and vice versa: in music, in dreaming, in the miraculous workings of the great world around us. Open your mind – so easily closed by the undoubted but limited insights of the scientific revolution – to what is beyond.

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Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and the WorldThis powerful, ground-breaking study of dreaming, death, music, and shared consciousness brings together a staggering number of fields to explore what we know about dreaming and its interactions with other forms of consciousness. Setting a humanistic, evidence-based context, Ruth Finnegan engages with anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, psychology, parapsychology, cognitive science, and more, building a strikingly diverse base of evidence and analysis with which to treat a subject that is all too often taken lightly. Entrancement will quickly prove indispensable for anyone studying these altered states of consciousness and what we can know about how they work and what they do for our minds, bodies, and selves. 

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Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and the World

Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and the World

If you’ve ever wondered where your mind goes in those moments when you’re not quite awake or when you’ve been staring out the window for just a tad too long, you will find some clues to an answer in Ruth Finnegan’s Entrancement. This collection of essays from educated professionals will expose you to different viewpoints on the topics of dreaming, trancing and the collective unconscious. Fashioned the same way a textbook might be, readers will gain insight into various hypotheses on what happens to our minds when we enter these states. Exploring the world from a slight occultist view, readers are privy to personal stories from professionals in the field of the social sciences who have backed up their personal experiences with data and sources. Investigate how music and dreaming contribute to artistic expression; identify your own personal cues and what might draw you into a trance.

Finnegan begins with her own personal experience with trancing. During her sections at the beginning and the end of the book she uses language that is friendly for non-academic readers. The same can be said for all of those who have contributed to this piece. By using common language, Finnegan has opened up the potentials for her audience. Anyone who is interested in this topic will find useful information within its pages.

There are some typos in the book which were distracting in such a highly educated piece. But the errors are few and can be easily forgotten. The presentation of the book leaves a little to be desired. The table of contents could use some formatting and the pages between essays could have been laid out better. These are all minor things, but they impact the reader experience.

It is interesting to read a collection of essays on a somewhat supernatural topic that is rife with research. For someone who is studying psychology or the other social sciences, Entrancement by Ruth Finnegan would be an excellent resource piece to read. The abilities of the mind have been studied for decades and we are no closer to unraveling the secrets now than we were in the beginning. If you’re a beginner doing preliminary readings or research on this topic, you will find this book useful. The content is not only useful, but the suggested readings in the back open up a whole library of future readings. For those who hunger for more information, who want to explore this world and our place in it, this is a delightful bonus.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B06XVD9WKM

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Quite a Character

 Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Werner Stejskal Author Interview

Oliver and Jumpy is book 4 in your children’s series that follows playful characters as they go on various adventures. Why was it important for you to create a children’s story that focused on kindness, friendship and helping others?

Many picture books have lessons to tell, but can be very obvious. Children don’t really like to be told what to do. A good example is always better and Oliver, although he is quite a character, shows that you can have fun and adventure, and at the same time do good.

The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like with the illustrators?

I thought a long time about which quality of illustrations I should pursue. I did not want to go cheap with dots for eyes figures. I would have loved to follow the very complex pictures of the fairy-tales books of 100 years ago. Unfortunately, being self-financed, this option would have been far too expensive. I grew up with Walt Disney and decided to follow that style, which is easy enough for most illustrators to create, but with facial expressions possible. I tried out six illustrators. The first one, Marvin Alonso, was outstanding. He did illustrations to about eleven of the stories before finding greener pastures. Then I found Maycee Ann Reyes who works together with her husband. The rest is history. This team was simply fabulous. They needed a minimum of supervision and created the scenes of the stories totally by themselves. I just provided the story and simple instructions. Maycee turned out a picture every 3-4 days. These series has about 500 illustrations. Oliver and Jumpy began 4 years ago and it was a herculean task which is now finished. This is a triumph of self-publishing. No run-of-the-mill publisher would have been able to produce such an elaborate work in that time.

My favorite story is Butterfly Trouble. What is your favorite story in this book and in the series?

I like the Dog story. I wrote this story because every time we have our daily walk through the neighborhood, there is a bored dog barking and my wife is saying that we should knock on the door and see if we can take him for a walk with us. My favorite story of the series is Story 18 called Moon Crystal. Oliver travels to the moon to bring healing crystals back to Sillandia. This book won the Readers Favorite Book Award Gold Medal.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

I have been working and finished the Chinese and Spanish version of the series. I am now working on the German one and other languages will follow. My final goal will be to find a company who is willing to invest in a TV series. I would like to see children all around the world to benefit of the marvelous work of my illustrators.

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Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

Picture book: A cat series book for kids riddled with mystery and fantasy.

Oliver is an elegant tuxedo cat, who is full of himself. As a matter of fact he says: “I love myself!”, quite often. Naughty, isn’t he? But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that he has a soft heart and will always want to help others. The great thing is Jumpy’s pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in! He calls her his kangaroo taxi! These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids. A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words. These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value. Love you all! Meow! Story 10: Unhappy Dog – The friends help an unhappy dog to escape his boredom. Story 11: Kite High – Flying high is everybody’s dream, but how to get down? Story 12: Butterfly Trouble – Butterflies don’t like to be caught. Buy Now From Amazon.com

Oliver and Jumpy

Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 10-125 Stars

Oliver and Jumpy: Stories 10 – 12 is a collection of children’s stories featuring Oliver the cat and Jumpy and Joey, the kangaroos. Written by Werner Stejskal and illustrated by Maycee Ann Reyes and Marvin Alonso, the stories are geared toward young children and early readers. There are three stories in this collection: “Unhappy Dog,” “Kite High,” and “Butterfly Trouble.”

In “Unhappy Dog,” Oliver meets a dog who barks all the time. Instead of being angry, Oliver strikes up a conversation and learns that Barky is lonely and bored, and he can’t get out of his yard to play. Oliver enlists Jumpy and her son Joey to help Barky get over the fence, and they play games to help Barky feel less lonely.

“Kite High” is another adventure where the three friends get swept up into the sky while riding a cart with a parasail attached. They talk to seagulls, and meet some pelicans, too. There’s danger ahead for Joey, but the friendly pelicans help them land their craft.

“Butterfly Trouble” starts when Oliver meets a butterfly named Bluey. Bluey needs Oliver’s help because a boy with a butterfly net is trying to catch him. Jumpy and Oliver stop the butterfly hunt, save the day, and free Bluey’s friends from captivity.

I shared these stories with a three-year-old girl, and she declared that her favorite story was “Butterfly Trouble.” The illustrations are vibrant and full of expression, inspiring her to take the time to point out the little details as we read. The book looked wonderful on the tablet computer – the colors and images were perfect, and it was easy to read.

All the stories emphasize friendship, helping others, and they include a bit of mischief. There is one potentially scary scene in “Kite High” prompting my young friend to exclaim, “Uh oh!” she also pointed at the pelicans helping our heroes. Every story ends happily, and no one is hurt.

One thing I noticed is that the author is clearly aiming for a global audience. Readers in the U.S. may notice a difference in words or usage, but they aren’t incorrect. It’s just the subtle difference between US and European English.

If you’re a parent, you can’t go wrong with this delightful book. It’s perfect for reading aloud to toddlers or a fun addition to your early reader’s digital library. All the Oliver and Jumpy stories are available on Amazon and several are on YouTube, narrated by the author.

Pages: 25 | ISBN: 9781625174079

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