I found author Aaron Dennis as a consequence of asking around online for places to promote my own work, and as we got talking it became apparent he’s a very interesting chap, so I grabbed him for an interview here…
Nimue: What brought you to writing about the paranormal?
Aaron: My staple is actually Science Fiction but I include quite a bit of spiritual growth in both my characters and their universe. Naturally, the spiritual side in me needed a release once I started writing and that’s where Shadowman came from. I can’t really pinpoint where it all started but I was always drawn to spiritual growth and development. I started with martial arts and read about Tai Chi Chuan when I was about 12. From there I moved on to Buddhism and then Taoism, maybe it was because of listening to Bruce Lee speak on TV or from reading his books, but I eventually moved on to other areas. Eventually, I found myself reading the entire works of Carlos Castaneda, that was at age 21. His stories of his experiences with the Yaqui shaman really sparked something inside me. Once I started writing, only about a year and half ago, I knew I had to implement some of my beliefs, if only loosely. Then Shadowman sort of presented itself to me and I started it as a short story. As the character began to grow and develop his own spiritual powers, the stories kept coming. So the culmination was a novella with four shorts comprised of the protagonist’s dealings with the otherside, or a world where spirits reside.
With Castaneda’s works having such a huge impact on my life, I had no alternative but to incorporate a small fraction of my experiences into my stories, but then, that’s what makes my descriptions and conflicts feel so real. I’m not trying to teach anyone a lesson on proper living in my books but that doesn’t mean my characters shouldn’t learn.
Nimue: From where I’m sitting, that sounds a lot like how the bardic tradition works for many of us! Are there any specific shamanic traditions that you’re drawn to?
Aaron: Dreaming definitely. I started when I was a kid with dreams of events that came to pass, mostly things at school like assemblies that weren’t announced previously. Eventually, I started waking up in what I thought was a catatonic state. Turns out it was just astral projection, so I took an 8-week online course where I developed quite a bit. From there I took to lucid dreaming and finally total control over dreams Most of it has fallen to the wayside with my ever busy life. That, coupled with a great lack of sleep in general, has put a damper on my practices but most of my stories are derived from my dreams. If not the entire story, at least several chapters/events. I would like to, at some point in my life, design a room devoted to dreaming practices and subsequently, practice every day. Maybe my books will take off and I’ll be able to afford it. Apart from dreaming, I’ve grown indifferent towards life in general. Not to say I am depressed, far from it, I just accept everything as an inevitable guiding hand towards an unseen end I have no control over, you’ll see some of that spill over into my stories in one form or another.
Nimue: How do you view the dream world? As an inner state, another reality, something else?
Aaron: Originally, I figured it was an alternate state of reality, a place where the mind experimented with itself through some kind of link with the universe. After becoming acquainted with astral projection and lucid dreaming, I thought it was more like a training ground wherein I could learn about the universe by crossing a threshold into another dimension. Perhaps a dimension where beings that have no physical body exist. Once I learned about “sorcery” through Carlos Castaneda’s books I came to understand that every reality, at all given times, is just the solidification of the “assemblage point’ on a particular band of energetic fibers and that a “dream” is a new position of the assemblage point. A lucid dream is a more stable position wherein the assemblage point does not shift about the bands of energy, which comprise our “spirit” or energy body and astral projection is the actualization of moving in the world using only the energy body. This implies that when we are in our “ordinary” state of reality, we are in fact all “dreaming” together because all of our assemblage points are on a particular spot, or common spot, where we all interact. In part, this is why I became indifferent. I’m no more awake or asleep than when I am having a dream. Instead I’m only more “sober”, or rather, have my assemblage point on an accustomed position in the energy body where it does not shift erratically. Through rigorous practice, I became able to follow certain steps in order to achieve that same stability in dreams, or through dreaming. A normal dream, I believe, is just an erratic shifting of the assemblage point but we can solidify its position and attain a state of dreaming, which is to say, actively living in a complete state of alternate reality. This can be somewhat confusing due to the fact that when dealing with this new reality, we have no inventory, or no analogy for comparison, or no compass to guide us, the way a toddler has no real compass to guide him/her through the “real” world. If we practice, we can find a point of origin and function in alternate realities. Scientifically speaking, this crosses the border in to string theory, or M theory, where several membranes of reality can be accessed, all of which are complete and total realities where we all exist every day. We just don’t realize it. I’ve been at this about 7 years now and have not been practicing the way I should be but my “every day” life has to be treated as the only reality, otherwise I’d be insane and unable to accomplish even the smallest feats. Why would I worry about paying bills if this is all just a dream anyway? So I pretend that my waking life is the only real one. Fortunately, my other lives, or realities, supply me with an infinite amount of experiences, which I then translate into stories. This is why my books are so awesome. *winks*. If I may add, there was an episode of Star Trek TNG where Picard went into a dreamworld and lived an entire lifespan. When he returned to his normal reality, he had all those experiences. I too have lived complete and total lives in dreams and treat those dreams as truths.
Nimue: Tell us about your books?
My first real book was Shadowman, which started off as one short story that everybody seemed to like. I finished it around June of 2011 and was looking to get it published in a magazine or something. At that time, I didn’t know the first thing about being an author or publishing and found a self publishing company. They touted that no one nowadays can get published, it’s all self publishing, it’s the only way to go, real authors get self published and panderers with lots of money hire literary agents and they only care about money. Well it seemed fine to me. Figured I’d go self pubb’d first and learn the ropes. First I needed to expound on the story. Since I left it open-ended, it wasn’t difficult.
Shadowman is four consecutive shorts revolving around an unnamed protagonist and the story is told from his perspective. It starts with our man hanging out in New Orleans, where he witnesses a murder. The dead man relinquishes some power and it possesses our protagonist, who we will call Adja. The young man wakes up in the house of an old Creole woman. She explains the practice of Voodoo to Adja and guides him throughout his journey.
As it turns out, the dead man was her grandson. Once he passed his power on to Adja, he became a Shadowman and took on her grandson’s quest, the quest to kill Snake, an evil Shadowman. With each story, Adja gains new abilities and some new friends. Together, they go in search of objects of power, spirits, and all kinds of crazy things. So my neat little book was finished. Keep in mind I only started writing a few months prior. Some 5 thousand dollars, I sold about 90 dollars worth of my book, it was poorly edited, poorly promoted, and too expensive.
So I took to writing some Science Fiction. I have had enough dreams involving aliens and their complete worlds and chose one piece in particular that I’ve always liked. When I was 12 I had a dream that I was partnered up with a team of aliens, who were looking for a second race of aliens in order to battle a third race of aliens. This became the premise of Lokians, which was not originally a series. The more I played with it, the more I was able to add pieces of other dreams. The Lokians became the insect-monsters, which once chased me around an enormous and empty lab of sorts. A mindless antagonist has its benefits. You know you can’t reason with it. just kill it. From another dream, I created the Thewls. Originally, their heads and faces were different but too difficult to describe, so we have our Skeleton-faced Thewls now. The travelers I took right out of the original dream, a blue, ape-like people frozen in ice. After the original ending, I re-read the story and decided I had much more to tell, so I changed it, and started the series, the first being Book1 Beyond the End of the World. I tried to get it published for months but no one was biting. Finally I found Eternal Press and they were kind enough to say Hey, it’s a little info dumpy at the beginning, So I said, No problem and moved a few things around.
The sequel, Book 2 They Lurk Among Us, will be released November 1st. It picks up a few months after our heroes curbed the Lokian threat. As the name implies, the main topic is aliens ensconced inside Earth government. For this novel, I used some of the well known alien races, such as the Grays, the big-headed gray guys, and the Reptilians, large, lizard-like aliens. This one, unlike the first, has much more suspense and intrigue. Beyond the End of the World is more of an action/thriller, so I tried to write it at a pace that was nearly overwhelming. They Lurk Among Us is provided from many perspectives, which was a challenge, but I think I nailed it. There are so many things going on all at once, and everyone is slowly moving towards a conflict, so I thought a different perspective from chapter to chapter was interesting. We’ll see how people like it.
Finally, I’m working on the third Lokians novel, Book 3 For War and Glory. This is not a trilogy but I will take a pause for the cause once the third one is done to work on some other projects. One of these is a full-length novel based on one of my own shorts, Expedition, available at smashwords.
Nimue: Aaaaand point me at some websites
Aaron: Forgot to add, I have since cancelled my POD contract for Shadowman and it is now available through Damnation Books. At any rate, thanks for everything and point people to my website. Everything is available there. http://www.dennisauthor.com this was fun
Find me on Twitter @authaarondennis
http://towriteawrong.blogspot.com (where the interview with me is going!)