29 March, 2009

The reason behind the name of ‘Finding Emmaus’

I have been asked on many occasions why my book, a story about ghosts and Empaths and an industry with a powerful political lobby gone mad, is entitled “Finding Emmaus.” I’ll try to explain. I realize this entry is a bit long-winded, and I apologize for that, but hopefully, by the time you reach the end, you will also find it inspiring…

‘Emmaus’ is a biblical reference, part of the Gospel of Luke. No, my book is not about religion, though religion certainly does come into play, as half the story takes place in 17th century Puritan America.

Francis Nettleton, one of the two principal characters, was ostracized and victimized because he was different. He was an Empath, though he did not know it for quite some time.

In his day, Empathy looked to those around him like lunacy or demonic possession or witchcraft - all of which were believed to be hazardous to the community at large and were generally ‘treated’ by torture and/or death. Francis managed to avoid the executioner’s noose because he was born into the wealthiest family in town.

So he survived, but he did not escape persecution - nor he could escape the bewildering, frightening, sometimes paralyzing manifestations of Empathy. But at 32 years old, he embarks on a pilgrimage which will not only change his life, it may very well change the world.

Katherine, also an Empath and the other principal character in the book, was born in the 1950’s, had no clue as to her true nature and therefore then spent a good part of her life believing herself to be mentally ill - and enduring all that one would expect would be reasonably associated with that: doctors and hospitals and endless, useless therapy sessions and toxic drugs.

Finally, at 54, she is given a rare opportunity: a second chance at life. She is told she is extraordinary, not crazy, that she’s an Empath and not mentally ill. And she is sent off on a trip to find Francis and, through him, the truth about herself.

And that’s where the 24th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke comes in: The Road To Emmaus.

The story of Emmaus begins on the third day after Jesus was entombed. Jesus appeared before two men, followers of his, although he did not allow them to see who he really was. To them he was just another traveler. They were on their way out of Jerusalem, going back home, they told him, to the village of Emmaus. Scholars have debated furiously over the village’s exact location but no-one’s ever found any irrefutable evidence of the village’s location or even of its existence. Nothing, not one artifact, not one grain of sand, not in 2000 years.

And that, in my humble opinion, is because the scholars have missed the boat completely. They will never find Emmaus because it never existed in the first place.

Think back to another bible story, one which is probably more familiar: the parable of the ‘sower of seeds’ in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. Some of the man’s seeds end up on the road, some amongst the rocks, still others amongst the weeds, and the only ones that grow are those that land on fertile soil. Is it a story about some knucklehead farmer who had nothing better to do than waste his time, energy and produce tossing seeds about into places where he already knew they’d never grow? Of course not. It’s a story about what goes on inside the hearts and minds of human beings.

And so it is with the story of Emmaus. The two men who were on their way out of Jerusalem had adored Jesus, had hung on His every word and so were devastated when He was killed, particularly in such a horrific manner, and even more so because the good citizens of Jerusalem had turned it into a circus.

They had expected Jesus to come back; they had expected Him to be their savior and after three days of waiting, when they thought maybe He wasn’t coming back, they simply couldn’t endure one more moment of the grief and anguish. So they were headed out of Dodge.

After having watched the world go mad, they needed to be someplace where they could be reassured that love and peace and sanity still exist, that there was still some place on earth they could count on to be a refuge from the atrocities of men.

So where do you go? When everything else in the world becomes absolutely unendurable, where do you go? Back home, of course. Back to family and friends, back to the one place you always know you’ll find comfort and consolation and recuperation.

Francis and Katherine both have journeys to take. They must come to terms with what they are and why they have been granted this precious gift, how to live with it, how they can master it, how they can put to some good use and eventually - hopefully - make some sense of their shattered lives.

That’s what Emmaus is all about - and it’s where the scholars went wrong: Emmaus was never about geography - it’s about shelter from the storm.

26 March, 2009

The Genesis of an Historic Fantasy About Empaths & The Abuse of Power

The underlying concept was not difficult to come by - I knew I wanted to write a book about an Empath. The story itself, however, was a bit more problematic. I had my two principal characters, or so I thought, but everything I came up with seemed forced and artificial. I had, in fact, already written several chapters, when ‘it’ happened.

I was standing in front of my dresser, over which hangs a wonderful black and white pencil drawing by Marita Parisi, an incredibly talented artist. She had exhibited in Hartford, CT, about 20 years ago at a Christmas Craft show in early December. It was at that show that I met her and purchased one of her drawings, The Basketmaker. Frank, the 90-something-year-old maker of willow baskets and the subject of this particular drawing, has held a place of honor in my home - and in my heart - since that day. And in the spring of last year he became the inspiration for my novel which is to be released later this year.

I kept staring at the picture, feeling somehow, that there was an answer in all those beautiful, intricate lines. And, in fact, there was.

Frank - or, more accurately, his predecessor who would live three centuries ago - became my new principal character and the first chapters I’d written were set aside for possible use some time in the future. Fifteen minutes later, I had the name of the town in which the story would take place, who the Empaths would be, how Empathy would be ‘discovered’ and studied and documented, how Empaths would be singled out, isolated and victimized - sometimes inadvertently, sometimes intentionally - and the time-period over which the story would take place.

More to follow...

13 March, 2009

Introducing “Finding Emmaus”, book one of The Lodestarre © series

Author Pamela Glasner will soon be formally announcing "Finding Emmaus"(© All Rights Reserved), a complex, dark historic fantasy about love and loss, obsession and the abuse of power, Empaths and ghosts, victimization and obsession, ignorance and its tragic results, a multi-billion dollar conspiracy, life and the afterlife, human frailties and a determination to live a life that matters. I've read an advance copy and it's fabulous. At 740-something pages, it truly does get the reader involved! It promises to be quite a success in its final incarnation.

The launch of the first book is scheduled for October of this year.

Stay posted for additional information and updates.

- Joanne Ravonni -

08 March, 2009

My Review of The Creditors - Directed by Alan Rickman - Seen on Wednesday, October 29th 2008

Seeing the play Creditors at the Donmar in London was my birthday present to myself and Alan Rickman was directing, so my expectations were high. And, I am happy to report, they were met. In fact, met and exceeded - beginning with the first moment I walked into the building.

First, a foreword: I restore vintage buildings for a living, so for me the experience began upon entering the front door. Charm and atmosphere to spare. Then you walk into the theater itself and the pleasure continues. It's small and the seats are extremely comfortable - long, upholstered benches which you share with people to your left and right, so you truly do get a feeling of intimacy - and there is not a bad seat in the house. Personally, I think a play, because it is so public an activity, is enhanced when it is shared with others. At this theater, known as the Donmar Warehouse, because of the way the seats are constructed (mind you, this was my first trip to England, so if this is a common occurrence, please forgive my ignorance), you get to meet - and laugh with and gasp with - your neighbors. A perfect, delightful venue for a play with a topic so intimate.

I had heard about the water trough but could not imagine it until I actually saw it. For anyone who's not been there, it is indeed a trough - conveniently painted black so you're nearly guaranteed to not see it if you're checking the seat backs for you letter and number! - about 30 inches wide and probably just as high, which surrounds the stage on three sides - so it is between the audience and the stage. I had a second row seat so I was not effected by it, just a bit perplexed. I mean, I understand the significance of it - if I'm remembering correctly, I believe I've read it's supposed to be a reminder that one is not far from the water. But GB's not all that ghastly huge and, after all, it IS an island, so why anyone would NEED reminding . . . . well, anyway, it added to the fun and surprise of the evening.

Upon entering the theater, a recorded voice admonishes you to turn off your cell phone and mind the water trough. Safely in my seat, one of my neighboring seat-mates asked me how anyone could possibly fall into it, as it really is not in the way. No sooner had the words left his mouth when a patron directly in front of us lost his footing and doused not only himself but another patron who was sitting in the front row, reading his program, minding his own business. Everyone - and I do mean everyone, remember, there's not a bad seat in the house - got a good look at it and a good laugh.

Regarding the play itself, there has been so much written to date that I would only parrot 99% of what's already out there, so let me say simply that I honestly felt as though I was part of the drama which unfolded between these three amazing actors - and it was intense drama. There were lots of laughs, to be sure, Owen Teale's character garnering the lions' share of them. Lies slid so smoothly off of Gustav's tongue that even the most appalling ones were appreciated. In fact, the more appalling they were (such as sex being the cause of Epilepsy and 12 months of complete celibacy Adolph's only hope at survival!), the more I loved to hate Gustav.

If I had to pick which of the three actors was the most powerful, the most memorable, I would definitely have to say Mr. Teale. He shifted from duplicity to disgust to callousness to passion to rage and back again with such ease and silky smoothness, he was a human version of a Stradivarius. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him so, and would have enjoyed the opportunity to do the same with the illustrious director, Mr. Alan Rickman, but alas, that was not to be.

For anyone who has never seen anything directed by Alan Rickman or has never seen Owen Teale in action, do yourself a HUGE favor and GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO DO JUST THAT! Creditors was everything I'd hoped it would be - and a fabulous way to celebrate by birthday.

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