Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview with Alan Joshua, author of The SHIVA Syndrome

Title: The Shiva Syndrom
Author: Alan Joshua
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Kindle

 A secret Russian mind research laboratory in Podol'sk erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake. Beau Walker, parapsychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research team, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the enigmatic event. Walker must fight his way past political and military deceptions and a host of deadly adversaries to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome. Will he have the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to defy the dangers he faces…or will they destroy him before he can come to a new, challenging understanding of the nature of reality?

To Purchase The SHIVA Syndrome

amazon BN

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

Actually, I have two. But they’re also my least favorite qualities: curiosity and intuition. Curiosity insists on answers; intuition informs me that there is an answer to be found, then signals me if it is the correct answer. When I’m able to cast light on some mystery, it is very rewarding. When I am urged to find an answer and am unable to do so, it becomes very frustrating.

Here is an example of when curiosity and intuition work well. Years ago, I tested an adolescent. His test scores told me something about him. My intuition, however, urged that there was more, beyond the test results. I requested that he be given a CT scan. A few days later, the staff psychiatrist (who referred him for the CT) came into my office, looking bewildered. He said the scan showed calcium growths inside the boy’s skull, pressing on his brain. “How could you know?” he asked. “Just a hunch,” I answered. He shook his head and left my office.

How long have you been writing?

Most of my life, but with no intention of publishing. Since the mid-Eighties, I’ve written and published a variety of psychological articles and book, test, and film reviews.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

Presumably, my writing ability was assured when my first article on consciousness and creativity was published in the Journal of Creative Behavior. There is a tangible quality I felt when I first saw my name in print. It changed my reality and validated interest in my work.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

In the nonfiction area, I’ve been heavily influenced by many notable psychologists and psychiatrists, too many to go into detail. Carl Jung and Stanley Krippner have been two of the strongest influences. In fiction, as a science fiction fan, the greatest influences have been Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Heinlein, Serling, and Phillip Dick.

While working on The Shiva Syndrome, I depended heavily on mental imagery to guide me in story development. I was surprised to discover that the characters had taken on a life of their own and seemed to be guiding the direction of the story and their own actions. So, in addition to the writers who influenced me, I would have to add the characters I create, and how they influence the story.

What made you want to be a writer?

In a sense, I’ve always written in one form or another. When I began to write articles on psychology, if one was published and generated excitement, this was very satisfying.

Writing fiction, however, is even more rewarding. It’s a sharing of your pleasure, enthusiasm, and interest over your story and characters that is especially gratifying when readers understand and can relate to the ideas, images, and storylines. One beta reader became so personally involved that she reacted strongly to different characters in the book as if they were real.

How did you come up with the title of the book?

The Shiva Syndrome was one of three possible titles. Typically, it helps to have a working title as you develop the manuscript. Once the manuscript is completed and has been read (seemingly) endless times, there is a certain “pull” that draws you towards the most meaningful title.

Are there any current books that have grasped your interest?

My reading varies depending upon my mood. Because I am a clinical psychologist, there are times when I feel the need for factual or theoretical information. At other times when I would like to enter another reality created by an author, it may be horror, science fiction, or mythology, again depending on my mood. Most recently, I read Dean Koontz’s Watchers. I was motivated by an interest in looking at his style, as well as the subject matter.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

One of the greatest struggles, from the beginning to the end of the writing was in finding ways to translate abstract, complex concepts into forms that could be understood by readers. When you use terms like “mythic consciousness,” or “collective unconscious,” there are many instances when words fail.

Another challenge impacted the evolution of the book. Having an art background, I tend to have strong imagery associated with storytelling. I elected to try my hand at a screenplay first. After partially completing it, an acquaintance suggested that I send it to an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. He reacted very quickly, and sent me an exciting email telling me how interested he was in the story. However, as I moved ahead on the screenplay – learning while I wrote – I realized that the partially finished product was already four times the length of the average script. At that point, I saw no other alternative than to turn it into a novel.

This led to another set of catastrophic circumstances. When the manuscript was complete, agents and publishing houses – although intrigued by the story – would take it no further. It was far too long for a debut author. As in the case of other publishers, Champagne Book Group suggested that I split the story into two books. After this was done, I found that the fabric of the story had been torn and lost momentum and evolution, both in plot and character development, that was found in the complete manuscript. Fortunately, Champagne held a conference over this issue and agreed that it should move forward as a complete story.

Did learn anything while writing your book? If so, what was it?

Oh, indeed I did. I learned a great deal about the dark underbelly of publishing: agents and publishing houses.

More importantly, as I became more deeply engaged in the substance of the book, I saw ways of interpreting reality that had not occurred to me at other times. Through intense contemplation (or absorption), creative processes are engaged leading to illuminations and inner growth for the author as well as the reader–hopefully.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative, you can talk about your first job, something that inspires you, anything fun that might grab the reader’s attention.

1. My first college degree was in Fine Arts; I majored in sculpture and design. Through my exposure to art and creativity, the instructors trained the students how to perceive and interpret. This was before I knew that I would move into psychology and the tools that I learned in art school were applied during psychological interviews and the interpretation of test results.
2. Although I had long-standing interest in paranormal phenomena, only personal experience makes it “real.” When I was in an early phase of research for my doctoral dissertation, I needed to acquire ten books written about, or by “psychic” or “spiritual” healers. While working in Center City, I meditated on the direction I should take when I went out for my walk. The name “Robins” appeared as a faint mental image. Although I could have shrugged it off, I decided to head towards a bookstore by that name. Although I hadn’t been in the store for many months, on that day they had tables lining the center of the store, books for sale from someone’s estate. Almost immediately I found a book that I knew a friend would want for their birthday. Then, I saw the word “healing” on a cover and discovered a valuable book for my research. As I tossed aside other books in search, I found a total of six out of ten books that I needed. This was a highly significant and improbable event that lent even more credence to the reality of the paranormal.
3. I was invited to a séance at the home of a distinguished Philadelphian with a magnificent collection of antique furniture, some of which had been handed down in his family for generations. The “psychic” or medium informed the owner that one desk had a hidden drawer. Although he expressed his doubts, he examined the desk following her instructions and found the drawer she described. His shocked look of pleasure gave evidence that he had no idea that such a drawer existed.

Tell us a little bit about the cover art. Who designed it? What made you choose that particular image/artwork? 

In fact This is the second cover. The first was designed by another writer who produced covers as a side job. Trisha Fitzgerald designed the cover that is on the publication. She is an artist who works with Champagne Book Group. When I first saw Trisha’s art, I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. Although it was beautifully done, it seemed to lack something. I used Photoshop to increase the contrast and to “burn” certain areas. When the changes were made. It was a wonderfully dramatic symbol of the Hindu god Shiva, perched in a strand of DNA with a background of organic chemistry symbols. From the feedback that I’ve received, it seems to have a magnetic draw to it.

The Shiva syndrome, his debut fiction novel, is a science fiction/paranormal mystery and thriller. Always curious about the unknowns of human experience, he is fascinated with creativity and paranormal abilities. This led to his involvement with Psychology and research into Parapsychology. He has explored paranormal abilities using hypnosis and in-depth interviewing of a wide range of practitioners. Among his prized possessions are a shriveled, mummified banana (a product of one healer’s biopsychokinesis) and a small, curled Austrian teaspoon produced by a German healer while six people sat around him. (see )

The Shiva Syndrome incorporates his knowledge of Parapsychology and experiences with healers, intuitives, “psychic” sensitives, etc. Unsurprisingly, he is a science fiction fan and has been influenced by such writers as Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Heinlein, Serling, and the extraordinary genius of Phillip Dick. As an avid Star Trek fan, he is fond of contradicting Gene Roddenberry, believing that human consciousness and its potentials are “the final frontier.” If you have questions for me, I would be glad to answer them–time permitting. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any paranormal experiences.

  For More Information Visit Alan at his website  
As a native Philadelphian, Alan Joshua (pen name) has the appropriate fondness for soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. He is married, has two grown children, and lives in the suburbs. He is currently a practicing Clinical Psychologist with a background in Forensic Psychology. His diverse background includes working in a State penitentiary and mental institution, a sleep laboratory, and a pain management center. Joshua has published many nonfiction journal articles.

No comments:

Post a Comment