Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Goddess Letters by Vicki Matthews Guest Post & Review

The dreams hold Selena prisoner. Without warning they carry her to bloody battles, a chat with Socrates, or the gardens of an ancient goddess who reveals the truth of women’s betrayal. Then Selena is returned to her bed where it often takes days to recover.

The blessing in Selena’s life is Rob. He has loved her since their college days in Chicago, yet even he isn’t sure if his outspoken girlfriend is crazy, some kind of prophet, or an idiosyncratic mixture of both. But before Rob can decide, the dreams create chaos and he soon finds himself married to Becca in Chicago, while Selena lives in LA, now a popular actress. All Rob has left is an occasional exchange of letters with his lost love.

Years later, Selena and Rob’s lives collide when the dreams reunite them in horrifying nightmares controlled by Jacobi, who will kill to maintain the patriarchal world he helped create. But Selena has learned a staggering truth that could help women claim cultural equality, and despite Jacobi’s potent threats, she considers sharing all she knows. Yet can one woman make a difference in a world on the edge? 

The Goddess Letters is a tale of love and cultural crisis that celebrates heroes and unlikely visionaries. A testament to passion of all kinds, it honors those who have the courage to fight for the old, be it love, beliefs, or entire civilizations.

1. What inspired you to write The Goddess Letters?

My primary inspiration for The Goddess Letters was a desire to help change the world.  I feel the reason we find ourselves dancing so close to the dangerous edge of lost sustainability is that we are missing a dynamic balance our world used to possess.  I wanted to share this idea in a way that people would want to read, and was greatly influenced by the success of The Di Vinci Code.  I think if you entertain and educate, you have the possibility of reaching more people than you would by writing a purely educational book.  

2. The storyline for The Goddess Letters centers on a Chicago economics professor, Rob Harris, and a Hollywood actress, Selena Wilmington, whose dreams of ancient rituals and forgotten knowledge haunt them both. How did you choose the professions of the two characters and are they based on people you know?

Much of the beginning of the book is autobiographical.  I used my husband and myself as the starting point.  Then, since we are told to write about what we know, I kept Robert in academia and economics (my husband’s interests) and placed Selena in acting because, while I’ve never been a serious actress, my father worked in Hollywood so I am familiar with that world.  After that, it was just a matter of presenting my characters with the elements of the plot and letting them weave their stories.

3. How would you describe the themes outlined in the book?

We are out of balance as a world and a people, and I think this puts us on the brink of real disaster at so many levels.  All of our dominant cultures are patriarchies where, by definition, the masculine has a disproportionate share of the power.  All of our main religions have a male god at their head, too.  It didn’t used to be that way, but we have moved away from the balancing aspect of the feminine principle.  That is what I hope people will come to see as they read The Goddess Letters.

4. The Goddess Letters is about matriarchal vs. patriarchal societies as a cause of imbalance in the world. Yet the story is told by a male main character, Rob Harris. How did you determine which of the two main characters, Rob or Selena, would tell the story?

I decided to use the Rob to tell the story because I thought his reality would be the easiest to access for the reader.  Rob is a male in a patriarchal culture.  Selena is different not only in the “other-worldly” experiences she has, but also in the fact that she is a powerful woman in a patriarchy.  Rob provided the access point of the story, and Selena provides the movement and motive behind the story arc.  I thought that would be a winning combination.

5. Can you describe some of the research you did when you were writing this book?

Even though this is a novel, all of the facts presented as part of the story are true.  I used over 100 nonfiction books in writing my novel, and they are listed on The Goddess Letters website.  There’s a whole lot of truth in this work of fiction.  I wanted the book to be compelling and eye opening.  I hope it is.   

6. Are you working on another novel? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Where the edge of today intertwines with forever, there are tales of a place called the Weave.  Seamlessly bound to our world, but not of it, this is where the Weavewalkers plan the cultural shift necessary to keep Earth from destruction.  No surprisingly, it will involve an infusion of more matriarchal ways onto our planet.  The success or failure of the plan rests squarely on a young girl who has been brought to the Weave for one purpose: to travel the Weaver’s Web and change a pattern that unraveled 30 years before she was born.

Rob wants his life to mean something.  His family doesn't come from the best part of town and hopes to leave someday.  His chance comes in the form of a man named John Pine who tells him if he's willing to commit himself and go to college he will pay for the entire thing.  Rob decides it's an offer he cannot refuse so he accepts.  Rob applies himself and graduates later moving on to Chicago to further his studies as an Economist.  It's here in college that he meets Selena.  Selena's parents sent her away from California to attend college to keep her away from her friends they don't like and her boyfriend.  Selena doesn't have much of a choice so she applies herself as much as possible and embraces college life.

Rob has liked Selena since the beginning, but Selena has a boyfriend so for a long time he's content to just be her friend.  They do a lot of things together, hang out, study, etc.  That's when the dreams start.  Selena has dreams that are so realistic that she can remember everything that has happened to her and one time even woke up with a bruise on her that came from inside the dream.  Rob does the only thing he can, he comforts her and holds her while she sobs uncontrollably.  Slowly as time goes by, Rob and Selena grow even closer and when she breaks things off with her boyfriend Rob takes the chance and makes his move.  Selena and Rob understand one another.  While he doesn't think her dreams are real and that she's in serious need of some help, he continues to support her and even suggests that she write her dreams down.  The interesting thing about her dreams?  They are all historical dreams.  They are not random dreams, they appear to be dreams with a purpose, some sort of message in them.  But what that message is neither of them can begin to imagine what that might be.

Selena and Rob grow even closer as they approach graduation,  moving in with one another and upon graduation decide to get married.  But life ends up getting in the way for this happy couple.  Selena is offered the job of a lifetime to act in a movie and she takes off for California to pursue her dreams.  Selena ends up getting cast in a film that will take place overseas so she takes off leaving Rob behind for months and a big fight prior to her leaving.  Distraught and alone with no girlfriend, he runs into his friend from back home in Texas, Eddie.  Eddie keeps Rob company and eventually introduces Rob to his relative Becca.  Becca and Rob begin to see one another and he finds in her comfort that he lost when Selena took off.  One thing leads to another and Rob finds himself with a woman pregnant with his child and a girlfriend he must now break up with.  Selena knows she must let him go, so she walks away, leaving Rob to marry Becca and give birth to their daughter Meg.

Rob has learned to bury his broken heart deep within, immersing himself into his marriage and life as a father.  But Rob has never forgotten Selena.   Selena continues to become a rising star, making quite a name for herself staring in films of a controversial nature.  He doesn't hear from her for a long time, but one day sitting in his University office he finds a letter from Selena requesting her records of her dreams she wrote down for him.  This causes Rob and Selena to begin to communicate back and forth through mail and phone in secret.  The letters go on for years as their lives develop apart, but for Rob his feelings for Selena have never died.  When Selena starts having the dreams again and Rob starts having versions of his own, they can't help but think that there is really something going on.  They eventually stop ignoring the signs with the immersion of Jacobi who wants to kill Selena and those she loves to get her to stop staring in films that give other women cause to believe that their lives have purpose outside of the house.  Can either Selena or Rob stop Jacobi before he kills someone they love or one of the two of them?

This book was interesting right from the start.  With all the dreams that Selena was experiencing and things from the dreams bleeding over into real life when she awakes, it was easy to get hooked to this story.  This book showed the pain and heartache that Rob experienced in the twenty years that they are apart and write letters back and forth.  I especially loved the letters and dreams that Selena wrote about.  It really gave you insight into what she was thinking and experiencing since the story is told in Rob's point of view and not hers.  Compelling story that was thoroughly enjoyable, 5 stars!

***Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for a honest review***
Vicki Matthews is a naturopathic physician, author, and teacher in Chicago. She is passionate about bringing balance to our world, especially at a cultural level. Her book, The Goddess Letters, shares what is needed to shift our culture back to balance.

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