This morning I turn over blog reins to an author to tell us a bit how a book came into existence.
Hi there! My name is Merry Freer and I am the author of “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” (Subtitled: “An Atheist’s Experience with Demonic Possession”). My first book was a memoir. Simple, right? Just tell what happened in the most interesting way possible.
When my son prompted me to write another book, I balked. “That was the only interesting thing that ever happened to me,” I insisted.
“Write about Adriana’s family,” he said. “They’ve had more book-worthy experiences than any family I know.”
I resisted. “Their experiences are fascinating, shocking and horrific, but they are anecdotal. There is no story to tie them together.”
“Use the theme of demonic possession,” my son suggested.
I was speechless. My ex-daughter-in-law’s family had been plagued by numerous unspeakable events – false accusations of child abuse, actual child abuse gone unreported, and a mass murder. I could name those off the top of my head. But a demon? My son is an atheist. He must be, as my granddaughter called it, “pulling my hair.”
A lengthy conversation ensued about the evil presence (he called it “The Beast”) that possessed his former wife. It had first come to visit in the bedroom they shared in my own home when they were first married. Surely he had mentioned it.
The idea of a book began to germinate and we spent hours on weekends, me feverishly taking notes and my son gingerly bringing up a subject he had tried to keep at bay, tried so hard to forget. Talking with my son about The Beast reminded me of the kids in Stephen King’s “It” who learned as adults that their beast had returned and they were compelled to challenge it. My son is an educated scientist, a pragmatist. Hearing tales of repeated confrontations with a negative energy he was reluctant to name, referring to it at first as an experience, rather than a presence, was surreal. He struggled to keep his emotions in check. It was clearly very real to him. An experience that had changed his life.
Writing about another person’s true-to-life experience is a daunting task, especially when other persons to whom the writer has no access are involved. This was my challenge as a writer – to take a series of true events about which I had limited knowledge and weave them into a chilling story. At one point, I couldn’t account for a three year period of time that I knew the reader would wonder about.
“You’re the author,” my son said. “Make something up.”
And so, began the salad of truths and half-truths that make “Special Levels of Earthly Hell.” The names were changed and disclaimers prepared. If there is a lesson in this story, it is that writing a work that is part fiction and part truth is tricky business – especially when the truth is the meat and bones of the story.
Suffice it to say that the most shocking and horrifying moments in “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” are all true. There are no innocent to protect.