White Horse Regressions, the second one in the series. The first one is Motherless Soul. Before becoming a novelist, he edited a literary journal. Today he discusses his literary and spiritual journey.
MJN: I am intrigued by the choice of the image on the cover. The image looks like it's moving. Very hypnotic. Optical illusions at their best. I always found the eyes on statues sinister, because they have no pupils. They are just blank spheres.
SL: Most people who see this cover like it, but it wasn't the image I had in mind when I submitted my novel to All Things That Matter Press. My editor, Deb Harris, designed it because she thought it would attract more attention at a bookstore and time seems to have proven her right. One of the subplots involves raising money with stolen artifacts, so it is suits the story. The movement you noticed works because this is a tale of people looking back through time to solve a crime that occurs in the present. And there's a nervous feel to the image that reflects the plot well. I hadn't thought about the blank eyes previously, but that works, too. The characters use past life regressions to look at aspects of themselves they hadn't known, like the line Was blind, but now I see from John Newton's classic song: Amazing Grace.
MJN: You don't have to believe in the concept of past lives in order to write on that subject. I hope you don't consider my question too personal, but what are your personal beliefs? Do you believe that life's energy can be recycled in that manner?
SL: I like your question. It is personal, but I think a good writer allows his or her personal beliefs to show through. It's a question of honest writing. I believe we have souls and I believe those souls are eternal. Reincarnation is one possibility for what happens to our souls when are bodies return to dust. It is a belief that is accepted by billions of people, but there are other possibilities as well. I like to use past life regressions as a method of mixing historical fiction with a plot line that takes place in modern times. In this sense my books are like time travel books, but without the conflicts because the characters cannot change the events they are discovering.
MJN: There are so many novels about Jack the Ripper. He was the Jeffrey Dahmer of his day - except that his existence is not proven. In your novel, Jack himself is not a prominent figure, but one of his victims is.
SL: That's true and I was concerned that using the crimes of Jack the Ripper might be cliché, but the nature of the murder in current times matched well with the Ripper murders. As you say, his victims are not as well known as he is, so I think this worked.
MJN: In most books and films exploring the subject of reincarnation, unresolved conflict is the underlying idea. Usually, once the terrible secret is exposed and the spirit is appeased, the story ends. But do you believe that some souls actually thrive on conflict, and they don't want to see justice established? Rather, they want the conflict to continue, as it's their source of food.
SL: Some souls thrive on conflict without any consideration of past lives, so it makes sense that those souls would react the same way in multiple lives. Although chaos can be its own reward, a power struggle is at the core of my novel. Power is the goal. Conflict is a way to achieve that power.
MJN: In your bio you mention that you ran a literary magazine. I co-edit a speculative fiction e-zine, so I know it's a labor of love. What do you find to be more challenging - attracting authors who produce quality material or attracting loyal subscribers who will read religiously and appreciate the content?
SL: I was a co-founder and associate editor of The Crescent Review, which had its first issue published in 1983. The problems editors have today are different than they were thirty years ago, because there are more markets for stories. We had an abundance of work submitted and, after filtering out the stories that weren't suitable, we had to reject some that were worthy. That was the hardest part of the job. Because we published established writers as well as new ones, we had a decent core of readers. But we weren't putting out pop fiction. I remember driving copies to local bookstores and returning a few months later to pick up those same copies. I did that many times. But the process was wonderful and I felt we made a contribution to writers who were beginning their careers.