Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010 When asked what kind of format you’d like to have for this post, you requested a guest post written by The Old Silly, saying, “Where did the idea for the book come from? Does it follow a theme? How is it the same or different from your other books?”
And you closed your request note with saying, “How we get our ideas for books fascinates me!”
So true dat, I agree. Beware the Devil’s Hug is one of those classic “what if?” scenarios, an idea that came to me nearly five years ago. It occurred to me, while observing a homeless man panhandling, seeing the reactions of ‘normal’ people to his un-comely and raggedy appearance ... everything from distrust, to disdain, to fear. Sure, some people gave him money, mostly to salve their own feelings of guilt, I believe, although I’m certain some people genuinely wanted to help the guy out—not many, though. The majority of people avoided eye contact with him, and pedestrians walked widely around the man, as if touching him might give them the cooties.
I watched from across the street for a long time, feeling the poignancy of this life situation, when suddenly it hit me. What if this man was an angel, or some kind of high spiritual being, with special healing powers ... but nobody receives the blessing he can bestow upon them because they won’t—well, here—here is the ‘what if’ blurb that dawned on me in that epiphany-moment. It hasn’t changed by one word since then, all those years ago, to now:
What if a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a prostitute to stop hooking, find happiness and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie? Make a radical terrorist Muslim want to befriend and love a Christian and visa versa? But rare is the beneficiary of his divine embrace – nobody wants to come near him out of fear.
You can see the main themes in the book in the blurb, also. They are all drawn from life experiences and lessons learned of mine. I had just come through a bout with a serious narcotics addiction, this I wrote about in my first book, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), and during that past year had had a love affair with a prostitute. My business had failed, I was going bankrupt, my marriage was on the rocks (we’re fine now, back together, thank God), I foolishly turned to the streets for some kind of base level of satisfaction, and dated this girl who (I found out later) happened to be a crack addict. We hit it off, she quit hooking, and we struck up a relationship. But I also got addicted to crack in the process. It’s too long of a story to go into and explain here ... read the book.
So anyway, I had ‘prostitute’, ‘happiness/true love’, ‘drugs/demons of addiction’ fresh on the life experience brain. When I kicked the nasty habit, I also knew I could never go back to that girl and be near that crowd, that kind of lifestyle, again. I am cured, I don’t fight urges at all, never have since a powerful conversion God experience I had—again written about in “Stone”—but I’m not stupid enough to put myself in a position of temptation, either. So I never went back to see the girl. But when you know someone that intimately you never forget them, can’t stop having a spot in your heart of love for them. I often wonder how she’s doing, wishing, hoping and praying for her that she was able to get off the drugs and make something of herself. A lot of Destiny, one of the main characters in the book, is fashioned after that woman, and I sure as heck wish I were as great a man as The Old Man main character in Hugs who cured and healed Destiny with nothing more than a fully clothed hug. I’d go back down to the ‘hood, find that girl and lay it on her, fo sho and fershizzle.
Another life experience that bears on the Hugs story, this one a few years before the affair/narcotics thing, was the utter shock of my second oldest daughter, a very strong-willed and independent young lady, converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim. I wrote a whole book—never published, I didn’t think it good enough overall to be a debut book—about my journal-style thought-trip trying to get a mental and emotional handle on how this could happen. Islamic culture, generally speaking, when practiced in age-old traditional fashion like the particular group she married into, is so male dominant with women held to positions of servitude and having less freedom and autonomy than the men. How could this hold any allure to a young, intelligent, promising daughter of mine who had ‘successful career woman’ written all over her?
During the understanding and accepting process, I became very familiar with the mutual distrust and even sometimes hatred between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They all worship the same One God of Abraham, but will beat, torture, and kill each other over their differing religious views. I took the time to read the Qur’an, and found it to be remarkably similar to the Bible. Lots of the same stories and parables.
Yet there is all this animosity between the Jewish/Christian camps and the Muslims. Go figure.
A major misinterpretation of the Qur’an, that has led to radical Islamic terrorist tactics, is the lack of understanding of the true meaning of the Jihad. Hate and fear-based extremists take reading about the struggle each good Muslim is to undertake to destroy the evil opponents of Allah as meaning literally to kill those people who do not believe in their God and Muhammad the Prophet. This is religious lunacy gone mad. The Jihad is intended to be an internal warfare—fighting the demons of evil within, overcoming them, purifying one’s self and attaining enlightenment and safe passage to Paradise.
I have long thought the most hideous and heinous oxymoron of all time is the ‘Holy War’. You simply cannot put those two words together. I am appalled at all the bloodshed, evil acts of man against fellow man, done in the name of God and religion. It is the single most abused and idiotic excuse for staging warfare throughout all recorded history. So one of the characters in the book is modelled a great deal like me, I call him Christian Dean Wilson. He’s a writer, and on a global campaign to create brotherhood, peace and harmony, by diluting religious dogmas through an organization called CUE ... an acronym for Coalition for Unity and Enlightenment.
Now take these themes, a prostitute/addict on a self-loathing mission of self-destruction with no love in her life, religious dogmas causing war and power struggles, a man heading up a coalition that wants to see people of differing faiths find common ground, develop trust in and love for each other, a terrorist plot to thwart their mission, and a haggard looking old homeless man who can remedy any malady for anybody if they would give him the time of day and a little respect. There you have the idea for, and the themes running through, Beware the Devil’s Hug .
How is it the same or different from my other books? It is the same in that I write mainly in the spiritual/inspirational genre, with elements of cross-over genres mixed in. My novels deliver spiritual messages in non-preachy ways, through the spinning of entertaining tales, and in that respect Hugs is similar to my last (and first) fiction, Owen Fiddler . How it differs is in the complexity—there is a lot going on, multiple sub-plots, unusual relationships, a bold red herring with a twist—and its particular mixture of cross-over genres. Beware the Devil’s Hug has aspects of religious, social, and political commentary; romance, including a bit of soft erotica; suspense/thriller; and mystery/intrigue woven into the story. I’ve received several reviews that state the book can be read on a purely entertainment level, it’s got the moxie and pizzazz of a fun and gripping fiction read. And for those who seek deeper messages in their books, it comes through with that also, again not in a preachy, sermon-like manner, but delivered within the subtleties of the story line.
Next stop in the tour is Patricia Stoltey’s Blog
For more information, visit Marvin’s site, The Old Silly
Don’t forget to register to win in the Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010