Q. Can you tell us in a sentence about your book? And tell us why someone should choose to read it over the other gazillion books out there?
A. It’s a deep, yet light and lively, sci-fi spiritual allegory based on the inner-Torah view of reality. I don’t think too many of the other ‘gazillion-minus-one’ books out there can make that claim.
Q. So it’s a Jewish book?
A. Yes and no (how’s that for a real Jewish answer?). On the one hand it’s a quintessentially Jewish book. Its theme, plot, and premise are all essentially explications of the Jewish Torah-kabala spiritual paradigm of reality; how it plays out in society, history, and within the individual.
Q. That sounds pretty Jewish.
A. Yes. But on the other hand, it’s written entirely in the form of a mashal (allegory), meaning that there’s not a single mention of Torah, Judaism, or even religion in the whole book.
Q. A novel-length mashal? How did you possibly manage that?
A. It took a lot of work. In a sense, it was very similar to translating Torah concepts into a foreign language, only in this case the new ‘language’ isn’t that of a different nation or culture, but rather that of a different articulation, or jargon.
Q. Can you explain that?
A. For example, people in a given profession, say therapists or physicians, tend to have their unique ‘jargon’ or specialized way of expressing things that a layman or even a member of a different profession would express differently. What an MD might call an ‘upper respiratory infection’; you or I would call a ‘chest cold’. Both refer to the same thing, they’re just articulated differently. What I’ve tried to do in the book is preserve the essence of a given idea, yet rephrase it out of its religious terminology into a different voice; in this case one which is more ‘new age’, for lack of a better term, or generically spiritual, with also a sci-fi/fantasy flavor. Again, I must emphasize, only the articulation has been changed – the ideas themselves remain authentically Jewish.
Q. That does sound like an awful lot of work. Why did you bother?
A. It’s no secret that in today’s society any religious mode of expression, no matter how eloquent or insightful, is an automatic ‘turn-off’ to many people, who immediately brand it as irrelevant to their lives.
Q. You’re referring to secular people, obviously.
A. You’d be surprised. While this is certainly true of the secular mind, there are many fine religious Jews who, despite themselves, habitually find their eyes glazing over when they feel they’re being told another ‘vort’. Of course, those who thirstily drink in Torah in its original form, don’t need any ‘translation’, mine included, although they may know others who’d benefit from it.
Q. Are there fictitious elements in the story, or is it all a ‘translation’ of reality, as you put it?
A. Of course the characters are fictional and many of the hashkafos (philosophical concepts) are ‘brought to life’ through the interplay of those characters within various scenarios that range from true-to-life, to metaphorical, to pure fantasy and alternative history. It is a novel, after all.
Q. You told us what the book is, but what is it about? Can you summarize the plot?
“Strad Crossriver, a millennial at odds with life, stumbles head-on into the final battle of an ancient mystic war for the destiny of the planet. While dodging the machinations of a brilliant media-mogul with a murky past and his deadly silent partner, Strad has to choose between a cool and comfortable life with his no-nonsense reporter fiancé (who has a bigger part in this cosmic drama than she can possibly imagine), or fulfilling a calling she insists is mere fantasy, by revealing a new way of seeing, which can transform the world.”
Q. You described the book before as “deep, yet light and lively”. I can certainly hear the ‘deep’ in your plot summary and also the ‘lively’. But I’m not sure I hear the ‘light’?
A. The ‘light’ is in the way it’s written – lots of humor, irony; colorful, even quirky characters – and a whole subplot about food and cooking, as well as the ‘Woodstock’ era. Despite the novel’s sweeping, thought-provoking theme, it’s a very fun, easy read.
Q. Sounds good. Where can someone get one?