“Deep Break” is an antiquated method of plowing when the soil is overturned and exposed in the early spring to ready the soil for new growth. As I construct my work-in-progress, Where the Sky Meets the Earth, I, too, dig for roots deep in history to create my novel, gathering research to develop both plot and character.
Where the Sky Meets the Earth is a work of literary fiction delving into the consequences of the recent economic fallout entangled with a perceived second coming of a messiah (think a twist on Stranger in a Strange Land set during the Great Recession). A nuclear family has exploded—unemployment, opioid addiction, and divorce. The son, a fourteen-year-old mixed-race boy, disappears into the mountains of Wyoming, seeking a true way of living.
In order to weave a complex story such as this, it takes hours of sifting through threads of history; research on the causes of the Great Recession and the impact on the lives of ordinary people. In order to build the Arapaho shaman character who becomes the lightning rod at the center of the story, I read indigenous history books such as The Wisdom of the Native Americans and In the Hands of the Great Spirit.
But a book that truly resonated with me was an incredible work by Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, published initially in Hebrew (2011), then in English in 2014. This is a stunning book on the anthropology of homo sapiens, and various competitor humanoids, up to the present time. This is not a dry rendition, it is filled with Harari’s philosophical spin on the effects of capitalism, government, and religion.
I was particularly interested in researching the hunter/gatherer period before homo sapiens became trapped into the agricultural revolution, which begs the speculative question—how would society look if that leap hadn’t occurred? And as my novel will attempt to reveal—what if a new messiah led us back to the hunter/gatherer life—turning away from modern society?
What if the ice caps melted . . . in one human lifespan?