A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Wendy Dubow Polins at the Salem Lit Fest. Wendy’s debut novel, Fare Forward, has been well-received by book groups who are eager to discuss this novel which takes place at the “intersection of modern science and ancient mysticism” (in fact, she loves to talk with book groups via Skype, you can find out how to arrange this via her website).
Here, in the author’s words, is a bit more about the themes explored in the novel:
Do you believe in Fate?
What are the things in life worth fighting for?
Can one moment or one choice change everything?
What if there was a secret in the Judean Desert that had been hidden for thousands of years?
This is a story about the moment when you are standing on the threshold of the beginning of everything in your life.
The novel opens in 1943 and follows three generations of family to the present time.They will learn that things, are not always what they seem. In this journey of a lifetime, Gabriella will meet the man she believes is her destiny, then learn that he’s been at the center of her grandfather’s research for over two hundred years, that he had met her grandmother on an archaeological dig sixty years earlier, and that he hasn’t aged . . . at all.
The characters I’ve created, reflect my own background in architecture and science. Ideas that I had been questioning. The novel really started to come together when I realized, that whether you’re a cutting edge scientist, an ancient mystic or a 19th century poet: everybody is asking the same questions.
What, if anything, is eternal?
In this guest post, Wendy quotes Aldous Huxley as saying ”We have each of us, a Jerusalem.” What does that mean? I found it to be a very insightful metaphor for our centers, our core beliefs (but, it my have a personal interpretation/definition for each reader; let me know what you think, in Comments below).
Read on as Wendy describes how she found her Jerusalem; then learn more about the author and her work via her website, check out the Fare Forward Facebook fan page, and follow @WendyPolins on twitter:
Each of us has a dream, a wish, or the love we hope to find. Our lives are given direction by experiences that change us and the choices we make; unforgettable, defining moments. Often, this happens when we travel, leaving behind the comfort of the known and propelled forward on a path into the uncertain. I travel for the same reason that I read books, and now write them—because I want to believe that people can change. It’s always been art that lit my path; that made me stop, reconsider what I took for granted, and provide the clarity to see new connections. “Antennae of the race,” James Joyce wrote. That’s what writers can be.
As I flew at 37,000 ft above the surface of our planet, I found quiet, disconnected from a world filled with stimulation and constant demands for attention. Travel is a good way to rediscover places in yourself, as you move through time — through worlds — almost like a dream, until the moment gravity pulls you back down to Earth and into your life.
“Very cautiously, I raise the oval shade that conceals the morning light of the continent over which we are flying. Seeing the world from high above is magical, the land reduced to graphic shapes and the blanket of stars in an endless sky. Since ancient Greek celestial navigation, travelers have looked to the heavens to guide their journeys. We are all voyagers aren’t we?”
(excerpt from FARE FORWARD p. 280)
I have just returned from Israel. A modern nation that continuously redefines itself, this is a place of miracles, where the past breathes and the future beckons. It is a four dimensional work in progress, shaped by the legacy of thousands of years of history, the Holocaust, modern technology, and the staggering bravery of individuals. Jerusalem plays a pivotal role in my novel, FARE FORWARD, as it is where, for thousands of years, people of every major religion have ended their journeys. In this city, many have found what they’ve been looking for and assigned dimension to what had previously been unmeasurable. You can feel it. The weight of history, the power of possibility and if you listen very carefully, the voices of those who have come before—in the wind, the silence, and the shimmer of the leaves on the trees.
A story lives in the mind of the author and the experience of the reader. For the last three years, as I created the characters of FARE FORWARD, they existed only in me. It felt risky, to send them out into the world, intensely private words and ideas that had been safely buried within the layers of my own heart. Now, as I returned to one of the major settings of the novel, it was my turn to walk in their footsteps, breathe the air they breathed and see what their eyes had beheld. I wanted to experience the magical pull of the place that had changed the course of their fictional lives.
I wanted to capture the ineffable qualities of this timeless city and attempt to convey the magic I felt with words:
“So many have stood in this place before us, and they will continue to after we’re gone. Moses, the Israelites, Herod, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon—”
“It’s as if time is collapsing.”
“This place is amazing,” I whisper.
“It’s a different kind of desert, a different kind of place. Not one of sand and dunes, a desert where the wind leaves its fingerprint. Time is erased here.”
“This is a desert of rock, of presence—of soul.”
“You feel like you’re close to heaven, don’t you?”
“Every place has within it memories of the past. What you now know is how to recognize the things that are truly important, the values and ideas that stand the test of time. How to choose—what to believe. Your life should always be about ideas, creating things. Decide what you want to change and how you think the world should be.”
He seems far away. He is calm. And I wonder whether this is what happens when you have arrived, when you are ready to put it all together, everything you have worked so hard for: you realize that you have only started.
(excerpt from FARE FORWARD p. 335)
When you travel and face the silence, you are forced to ask yourself – what is it that my life revolves around? What does it mean? In this city of Light, I could clearly see everything I had ever wished for. The promise of a future accompanied by awe, wonder and profound gratitude – that I could stand and behold the miraculous view outside my Jerusalem window, the sound of the markets, minarets and church bells blending together in a symphony of collapsed time.
Aldous Huxley said, “We have each of us, a Jerusalem.” Travel and exploring other cultures teaches by example, to live without regrets. To BE BRAVE. I have been inspired to let the power of what I want to write, drive my commitment to live life creatively but be disciplined, rigorous and to never, EVER, give up. If you look carefully, into the darkness of intuition and the unknown, you just might discover what you’ve been searching for. You can find the light, YOUR light.
What you might discover, will be yourself.