Author Interview Press Release
JUNE 19, 2017
What inspired you to write this novel?
I had no intention of writing a novel or novels. I was just journaling some of my philosophical ideas over a couple of months. I thought the ideas to be rather boring so I asked my muses for some illustrations and a little humour to lighten things up. Immediately I got an allegory that turned into someone's dream. Much to my surprise, I suddenly was writing a novel.
Prior to this, it never occurred to me to do this since I assumed I couldn't. Over four years later now, I have four novels, three of which require another few rounds of editing. Elysium's Passage is one long story and I still have no idea where it will end. I've never known what was going to happen next and still don't. The narratives seemed to have written themselves from beginning to end, however the editing and revision process has been long and grueling.
How would you summarize the novel in a few sentences?
Fantasy, adventure, philosophy/spirituality and intimations of pending romance, that tells a story about young philosopher who enters an alternate realty after falling down a long precipice while climbing a mountain in Chile. His body remains in a coma for the next year in London, but his spirit body's consciousness remains on the mountain summit with two men he once knew before they died. They know him, but remain incognito and don't tell him who they are. The discussions they have are an examination of life's meaning whereby the hero must unlearn all that he thought he knew about life and reality.
What is the overall theme?
In sum, its about life's meaning and the nature of everyone's ultimate destiny. The ongoing dialogues examine questions about body, soul, mind, consciousness; what is spirit and material; what is God; what is life, reality and purpose; free will vs determinism; the nature of love and romantic relationships. These questions are considered within the plot of the hero's ongoing spiritual transformation.
What are the key messages?
- We are spirits, not bodies
- We live after physical death and so how we live and develop our conscious awareness matters.
- The nature of love as itemized by the four Greek loves: Philia, Storge, Eros and Agape.
- The nature of heaven (Elysium)
- Spiritual transformation and enlightenment.
- The ego illusion vs spiritual truth
- Relationships of spirit and matter
- Necessity of uniting heart and mind
Where does the story take place?
On a mountain summit somewhere in the Andes of Chile, although there are several allusions to events in London and elsewhere.
Who are the main characters and why are they important to the story?
James, the philosopher, is the hero and first person narrator. Mo and Eli are the two companions he meets in this new dimension between earth and Elysium. He eventually acquiesces to their mentoring, but not without resistance.
Why do you think this book may appeal to readers?
It speaks to the meaning of life, the nature of soul and the mystery of the afterlife. I trust the reader will find it inspirational as well as entertaining with plenty of humor and adventure.
What book makes your book different from others like it?
I honestly don't know of other books of fiction quite like this. I don't wish to overstate its uniqueness, but I haven't seen any modern novel that involves this depth of spiritual and philosophical dialogue, except Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Depending on the reader, that may or may not be a good thing.
Essentially it’s about other dimensions of life, not just on earth, but in the universe including what we call heaven or, as the characters call it; Elysium. There are about 280 footnotes with quotes, many by physicists and philosophers, along with several references to historical events, etc.
The dialogues provide much depth of thought for the serious reader. Though some of the dialogue in the book may seem rather cerebral for some, however, I have endeavoured to use plenty of humour and adventure to offset this.
How did you learn about this topic?
Living a full life while encountering many challenges along the way that have taught me much of what the story's hero is learning in his own way. My ongoing reading in philosophy, physics and a wide assortment of literature has proved me an excellent orientation for the subject matter.
I have studied Emanuel Swedenborg (the 18th Century Swedish mystic and scientist) for many years, which has given me unique in-depth insights into what may be expected when move on from this plane of existence . Also I've been influence in my philosophical thinking by the various Russian writers such as P.D. Ouspensky, G.I. Gurdjieff and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Is there anyone special in your life that influenced you to write this?
There are many, but I must make special reference to my late friend and mentor, Dr Jan Merta, sometimes referred to as 'the world's most accomplished man.' I don't want this to sound too weird, but he influenced me not just in the past as a scientist and mystic, but he still does as I write of him as one of the main characters. Let's just say, there's more intrigue to the story behind the story than I'm prepared to discuss now, but many of these elements show up in the plot.
Currently I'm writing a book on the strange occurnces that brought the Elysium's Passage's into being but am undecided releasing this information to the general public at this time.
Is there any quote that conveys what the book is about?
'As within, so without' is an oft repeated phrase along with C.S. Lewis's 'come further in, come further up.' Also, my quote from Carl Jung sets the tone: 'Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens'
What other books have you written?
This is it, along with the three sequels yet unpublished. They will be released over the next two to three years as part of the Elysium's Passage series beginning with Surreal Adventures next spring, then Mystical Romance, the Elixir and The Return, (still uncompleted).
Could you give an autobiographical outline of your life?
I was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1949. My father passed away from cancer at the age of 33 in 1951, six years after serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Britain during WWII.
In 1952 my mother and I moved to Whitehorse, Yukon where she worked at a native school for a few years. There was little pay, other than being provided room and board for us. However, that was sufficient since she wanted to get away from her grief by surrounding herself with wonderful people while helping others.
In 1956 we moved back to the farm in Alberta, I attended a one room country school where I walked each day. There was no indoor plumbing in either our home or school, while heating was only coal and wood.
In 1957 we moved not far away to a town about 50 miles south of Edmonton where I graduated in 1967. I was active in almost all sports including hockey, baseball, football, gymnastics, track and field, etc.
I decided at that time to travel without any firm destination in mind but ended up in Clearwater, Florida in 1968 where I lived until 1971 as a student at Trinity College, a religious school while also attending St Petersburg Junior College.
Moving back to Alberta, I settled in Calgary while attended university over the next six years.
I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Philosophy/English, (1975) and Bachelor’s degree in Education (Secondary) (1977) and later took a few graduate level courses since I intended to enroll in graduate studies one day. In total I have 10 years of post secondary education.
I married in 1976 and by the next year we decided to move to Edmonton where I began my commercial real estate career. I was qualified to teach high school but instead decided to get rich quick in real estate – which I did, at least for a time, beginning as a broker.
I began my land development company in 1979 with several holdings across the province before expanding into Midland and Austin, Texas. After having nothing as a student, then rapidly becoming prosperous, I lost it all in the early 1980s primarily due to the federal government’s National Energy Programme that decimated the local province’s economy. With my land assets depreciating to just a fraction of what I paid, I lost most everything, including my home. By 1984 it was all over.
I closed my business and moved back to Calgary to start over again by returning to commercial real estate brokerage with Colliers International. This time it was a tough grind after the big crash in the old patch, but I slowly build my assets up again while leasing downtown office space.
My first son, Daniel, was born in 1982 and my second son, Andrew, was born 1985. Throughout the years, I’ve maintained excellent relations with both sons and see them regularly.
I took a few years off real estate in the early to mid 90s to work for a humanitarian organization, hoping it would take me in a new direction and career. However, due to lack of funding, it was not possibly to continue. And so, in 1997 I returned to real estate, joining CBRE (formerly CB Richard Ellis), as I focused primarily on land sales.
A few years later I joined with a few former real estate colleagues in a small ‘boutique’ brokerage in Calgary. I remained licensed with the company until recently since I’ve been inactive for several years now due to my writing.
I was divorced in 2001 due to significant differences in values and perspectives and have remained single ever since without becoming involved again in a relationship. I began to thrive in my life again, traveling to various parts of the world. I’ve visited Germany, Scotland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Taiwan, Turkey, Russia, Austria, Cuba, Bahamas, Haiti, Mexico, along with several trips to the southern areas of the United States.
Unfortunately I got caught in a couple of disastrous tech investments and most recently, a real estate initiative with several houses and an apartment building in Southern Alberta. Due to the cancellation of a government project at the last minute, values crashed and I lost much of savings over the last few years while writing the Elysium books.
I first began to write in early 2013 and haven’t stopped since. I have revised and rewritten the first book, The Summit, at least 12 times over and a few times for the other three novels. I often work ten hours a day or more. (This has been both the most exhilarating work I’ve ever done but it has also by far been the most difficult).
As for other activities; I enjoy spending time at my cabins in the foothills with friends. In 1990 three other partners and I purchased 14 acres of land which has been the source of much fun, partying, hiking and solace. You may see some pictures of the cabins on my Facebook site.
I have also enjoyed climbing in the Rockies nearby and through the years and have ‘peaked’ several dozen mountains. This has also involved plenty of camping. However, due to problems with my knees while descending the steep slopes, I no longer climb, although I still ski occasionally.
Another formative activity for me in the past was being part of a book discussion group with up to six men of various ages. We would meet early Sunday morning for a few hours at a restaurant to discuss whatever book we agreed to discuss. On average, we spend 12 weeks discussing a book (four each year) meeting each week for close to 25 years. The books were generally classics with authors such as Dostoyevsky, Tillich, Niebuhr, Lewis and Carroll.
At this time in my life, I enjoy the simple pleasures of hiking in nature and meeting in my home with friends and acquaintances for various meetings and discussions each week for more than fifteen years.
For more information and pictures, please go to: www.elysiumspassage.com
or Facebook: Elysium’s Passage Book Series
N G Meyers, author