Author interview with Deborah DeNicola
Deborah DeNicola‘s memoir The Future That Brought Her Here is from Ibis Press 2009. She has six previous books, including the anthology she edited. A new collection of poems, Original Human, is scheduled for 2010. Among several other awards, she received a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Deborah studied dream work at The Jung Institutes in Boston and Zurich and trained with Robert Bosnak. Her web site is: www.intuitivegateways.com
1. Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is my spiritual memoir, The Future That Brought Her Here; Memoir of a Call to Awaken. It’s the story of a normal, struggling, single woman who finds one day she has new senses, can see through her closed eyes, has visions and senses changes in energy. I have been meditating for over 20 years and when new senses emerged, I began a quest for what was behind our 3-D reality. This quest consisted of reading, going to channeling sessions and asking spirits what was happening to me as well as traveling through synchronicity to other countries. My excursion to Southern France to follow the mystery of the Black Madonnas takes up the latter half of the book.
The book contains medieval history, science, and occult mysteries as well as a personal story of healing from my father’s death when I was an adolescent. It’s also about creative process and dreaming and dream image work. At the end I come to some conclusions about where human evolution is going and ways to be in the world, living the ideals of A Course in Miracles. It actually took me 8 years to write and I started it as a novel because I was an “academic” and didn’t want to step out of the metaphysical closet. The story and writing the story helped me come to terms with some of these experiences.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve written every since I learned to write. I think it might have helped that I had an older brother who wrote and he was like my mentor/tormentor. He’d assign me certain books to read and I just accepted him as my teacher. We subscribed to the old “Classics Illustrated” which were wonderful comic books of the Great Canon. As a kid I used to write mostly stories and didn’t start writing poetry till adolescence, of course, love poems came first.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Currently I’m busy marketing my book and my dream process workshops as well as my mentoring new writers. I do two things: I help people process dreams, discover meaning, amplify their dreams, and relate them to issues in their current life. I also help writers develop material, create their book with exercises in writing, edit their work, and find the order and sequence of their experiences. My days vary considerably depending on what I’m working on.
I had a schedule when I was writing the book steadily and teaching. Almost three years ago I came to Florida from Boston because my mother was ill. I ended up staying because of her. All my belongings are still in storage in Boston. I moved in with her to help her. I realized it was a time I could also move to change my career. I’d been an adjunct professor teaching as many as 6 courses a semester and going away to writing colonies on fellowships when I had some breaks.
I found a huge holistic and spiritual community in Florida (of all places, I was quite surprised!) Then I found a publisher here, so in many ways, though I still miss Boston’s intellectual community, I feel I was led here . I’m living completely in the moment now. Every day I network, spend many hours on the computer but I also dance three hours a week, go to the ocean frequently and try to stay balanced. I’ve had another book of poetry accepted since I’ve been here; Original Human is coming out in 2010. And an earlier chapbook, Inside Light, was published the year after I arrived. Florida’s been good to me. I am somewhat free to pursue writing and marketing and somewhat tied down with an ill 93 year old mother. (Another book to write!)
I have been working on a book of essays on Dream Image Work and I think it’s halfway finished.
4. Describe your workspace.
I have a wonderful red bookcase from Ikea that is the center of my study. I have a MAC laptop and desk and several filing cabinets. I try to keep conscious of the concepts of Feng Shui so I get the maximum out of my work hours in energy. I’m very aware of energy in a room and how clear it is, how supportive. Here’s a tip, keep your north-west corner uncluttered as it’s your money area. I have, of course, piles of clutter elsewhere.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Let me start with favorite writers. Oh, so many. I love contemporary fiction, read all nationalities but I am also a classic scholar. All the Greek material; I read and taught Ovid, Homer, the major Greek playwrights. I compiled and edited an anthology of contemporary poetry on Greek myths called Orpheus & Company, published by University Press of New England. It had some course adoption which was nice for me. The Harvard Review called it “An important book.” As much as I could I taught what I loved or was interested in, the poetry of Rumi and Rilke, the Romantics, the Moderns, poetry being my first love.
I designed and taught a class on the literature of war which deeply moved me. It struck me that Homer’s Illiad , the first book in Western Civilization, says everything that’s ever been said about war, it’s glory and it’s horror. I have been troubled to understand this dichotomy. I read a lot of Viet Nam novels, a lot on the Serbo-Croatain tragedies, and the literature of the Holocaust.
For some reason I was drawn to try and understand the concept of evil. In many ways, my book looks for answers to that question. I believe we are all One, living in the illusion of separation. I’m a Course in Miracles practitioner. Fear and ignorance of our true spiritual connection are basically the reasons we don’t treat each other well. The lack of understanding that everything we think and feel has a frequency that attracts situations to us is probably to blame. I think however, that as bad as the world looks, these ideas are spreading exponentially. Spirituality has exploded into its own industry. Then of course there is the topic of religion, man-made institutions that have failed. Okay, so I’m off-task. Naming favorite books . . .
Tim O’Brien’s The things They Carried is a wonderful book on writing as much as it is on war. It’s about story telling, how to tell a war story. And as addicted to drama as humanity is, this book teaches so much. I was a French major in college so I love a lot of the big nineteenth century French novels by Zola, Balzac and Stendhal. I recently read a wonderful novel by A Mexican author, Thomas Louis Urrea, The Hummingbird’s Daughter. I love all the South American poets, Neruda being the be-all and end-all for me. And as for South American novelists, no one can top the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Then for Americans, oh, the whole lot of Fitzgerald, some of Hemingway, and their short stories. The short story form in general, is so unappreciated by the public, except, of course, for M.F.A. students . . . Flannery O’Conor, Cheever, Updike, Faulkner, Katherine Mansfield that whole generation . . . then Ann Beattie, Joyce Carol Oates (although I o.d.ed on her) Tobias Wolf, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a book I’ve read several times.
I could go on an on, but I’ll just add that one of my favorite contemporary novels is Ann Padget’s Bel Canto and I recently read and loved the story collections of Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
(A) Well, I do dream work. I think it’s one of the most important things we need to do. The unconscious mind is a treasure trove. And if we can take back and own our projections, and realize everything in our dreams, atmosphere, landscape, objects, figures, are ALL US, we will see we all have the same fears and complexes. When we make those conscious, we have more compassion for ourselves and others. We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves, change our reactions to stimulus of our separation. I fervently believe this. But it is so difficult to change our neuron pathways because our unconscious mind does not always believe what we consciously want to create. We do create our reality, but we create it unconsciously a lot of the time and therefore we project and have conflict and war and injustice. Working on your dreams and making them conscious shows you what you really are feeling, what is sabotaging your plans, as well as what you could become. The unconscious is extremely wise. But it speaks a different language. We must learn the language. It is universal. We all dream and dreams take us out of our reality to another reality. If we live to be 80 we’ll have spent 20 years dreaming. It only makes sense to try and make sense out of our dreams.
I have learned a process that reveals meaning rather than “interprets it.” It is experiental and emotional, and it works.
(B) I’m a poet. Everyone knows poets are crazy. No one pays them. We agonize over whether to put an “and” or a “but” for hours, days maybe and no one cares but us. But poetry, like life, contains ambiguity. And poetry resolves paradox; it holds the opposites in tension where they can produce a reconciling image. It’s the ultimate healer. It’s also greatly expressionistic of our most intense emotions. Poetry heals, especially its dark side, heals. We get to experience in the moment, which is where we need to be. It’s actually not that crazy, though mainstream people have no idea what it’s about. But when someone writes poetry, to be in the act of it, puts you totally in the moment and the unconscious delivers. it’s like channeling. One is given so much solace. Poetry is addictive, in a good way. And it has correspondences with dreaming, so it seems natural to me as I love imagery.
(C) My third eye is open. My book goes into this. I’ve been meditating over 20 years and one day during meditation I saw an eye looking back at me. I also became aware of invisible presences around me. This awakening is at the heart of my story. The Future That Brought Her Here is a quest to understand what had happened to me, is happening to me. I’ve acquired senses I never had, although I did have imaginary friends when I was very young, and now it makes me wonder . . . I was never interested in the occult, always frightened of it actually. However, I was led on a fascinating journey, calling me to different locations where I had different experiences, Israel, Colorado, France. I read a lot of history of the occult and then quantum physics. I studied near death experiences, the world between worlds, and I believe my visions are related to past lives. I found a British physicist , Rupert Sheldrake, who writes about the Presence of the Past. I came to some amazing conclusions and then found that there are thousands, maybe millions of people on similar spiritual journeys, different symptoms but we all agree that humanity is evolving and we are in for great changes of our whole civilization. I will leave it al that . . . hopefully tempting you to read my book.
7. Favorite quote
C.G.Jung: “Unless the unconscious is made conscious on the inside, it will happen on the outside, as fate.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
Best—it’s so enriching, so satisfying to feel you’ve expressed what you intended, such a healing release. And then the added bonus—other people like it!
Worst—it’s lonely. Although I’ve been in a lot of writing groups, the ultimate work is done alone and requires long hours. Two other worsts, (“worse and worser” . . . ) very few writers make a lot of money, even if they’re good. And the “worser”, it’s hard work.
9. Advice for other writers
Read. Read before you write. Read and write every day. Don’t become a writer unless you can’t help it.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
Well, I once drove 300 miles to read to one person. But that’s a reading experience? Hmm… I once stopped making love, to jot down some notes . . . how’s that?
Where can people buy your books?
You can get my book online through my distributor, http://www.redwheelweiser.com/ just put in the title or my name in the search box. Also on amazon.com and bn.com. My publisher’s web site:
http://www.nicolashays.com I’ve read at Borders here, but not every Borders may have it, though you can order it. And the same with Barnes and Nobles. If there’s a spiritual bookstore near you, they should have it. My web site www.intuitivegateways.com lists my books and blurbs, will direct you to them although I don’t sell them from there.
Deborah DeNicola is the author of five poetry collections and she edited the anthology Orpheus & Company; Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology. Among other awards she won a Poetry Fellowship in 1997 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Deborah has been a recipient of many writing colony residencies. Her most recent book is her spiritual memoir published by Nicolas Hays/Ibis Press, The Future That Brought Her Here. Another full collection of poetry Original Human is forthcoming from Custom Word Press in 2010. She teaches dream image work and mentors writers online at her web site www.intuitivegateways.com.
For a limited time, you can purchase The Future That Brought Her Here from Amazon and receive bonus gifts. Click here for details: http://www.thefuturethatbroughtherhere.com/bonusoffers/ To learn more about this virtual blog tour, please visit: http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/10/future-that-brought-her-here-by-deborah.html