Thursday, 26 July 2012




One male friend at my launch, picking up the book and inspecting the cover, turned to me with a wry look, and said 'I guess This Strange and Precious Thing is love.' Is he wary of taking home a Romance? I wondered. I assured him the strange and precious thing which found its way into my title didn't refer to Love, nice as that though might be; it was in fact a nick-name given to Finn, one of the main characters in his childhood - a childhood, in this case, set two hundred and fifty years in the future.

Eventually I came up with a category suggested to me some years ago, Visionary Fiction, but wasn't sure. What exactly is the definition of this new genre? There has been some discussion in the last few days on writer's groups I subscribe to of that very question. On writer Eleni Papanou's website I found a great definition that says it well: -----

Visionary Fiction embraces spiritual and esoteric wisdom, often from ancient sources,  and makes it relevant for our modern life. These gems of wisdom are brought forth in story form and in a way that readers can experience the wisdom from within themselves. It emphasizes the future and envisions  humanity’s transition into evolved consciousness. While there is a strong theme, it in no way proselytizes or preaches. 

Visionary is a tone as well as a genre. The ‘visionary’ element can be present in any genre and set in any time. The emphasis is on our limitless human potential, where transformation and evolution are  entirely possible.

This is a definition I can aspire to - one, I hope, that I come close to reaching within the pages of
 This Strange and Precious Thing. By the time I dotted my final chapter with its final full stop, and agreed with my editor that I was happy  - or happy enough - to send it off to the printer for publication, I felt it embodied, as near as possible, most of the elements present in Eleni's definition above.

In 2008 when the book was first published, I hadn't read  a definition of Visionary Fiction. However, this preliminary review below, (from which I've removed sections where  the reviewer points out places where I need to rewrite and make changes,) seems to me to come close to the same conclusions. I regard this book, not only as an entertaining read, not only as a vehicle for teaching, both of which I hope it includes, but as something more. Transformational, certainly. But something else, perhaps indefinable. As my celestial friend and ascended master  Kuthumi told me; in the new genre we call New Writing, New Consciousness, New Energy, this kind of creation carries an energy which goes beyond the words on the page, an energy of transformation that is absorbed, breathed in, and which goes on expanding within the consciousness of your readers long after they've put down the book.

Although, at the time I was writing Strange and Precious, I had not yet met Kuthumi, and the later book I wrote, Dreaming Worlds Awake, and which to some extent was co-written with him, had not been consciously envisioned, I think that his observations were never-the-less coming to birth.

This below, is the review by Crysse Morrison; Writer, Dramatist, Performance Poet and Novel Mentor, from which I have removed several lines where she made invaluable suggestions for improvement. Having followed her good advice and implemented them, I feel it OK to show the main body of her review. 

This is an invitation for comments on the discussion or on how you see this review as Visionary Fiction. The comments button is at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, please comment on Writers who believe in supporting Writers, Writers doing what they do best, Twitter, Goodreads, or any other venue.

(working title)
by Esme Ellis
Genre Adult fantasy
Aim Publication - commercial or individual
Length 95,000 words (est.)
Central characters Annya, Manfred, Finn, Mandlebrot - alternating viewpoints
Theme Possibilities of resolution in human and environmental relationships, through supernatural and elemental energies of which we are currently unaware.

As I'm more familiar with the genre of psychological realism in fiction I was unsure whether I'd find aspects of this difficult, but the contemporary setting and character portrayal ensured enjoyable reading. I found the descriptions of setting superb - visually graphic and hauntingly evocative. Dialogue is, for the most part, credible and effective to move the story forward. The underlying messages are subtly clarified, and I liked the mood shifts and the lightness of touch, so profound points are made without overt moralising.

Initially I was wary of a novel without a clear protagonist, but as the story progressed I felt the balance between Annya and Finn is important, and has been well maintained. The love story at the heart of the book is beautifully expressed and moving in its inference of hope for us all, gods and humans alike.

The narrative pace is very good, varied and with great cliff-hanger endings to most chapters. .... sections describing Finn's experience do benefit from slow(ish) assimilation, as this is unfamiliar territory to the reader,..... in those chapters describing Annya's responses .... we can readily empathise with her - very human - reactions.
My final reservation is regarding the viewpoint itself. While in a book of this length, where several perceptions and timescales are involved, it is quite acceptable to use different points of view in narrating, it is better practice to maintain one for as long a section as is possible. Towards the end of the book there are lots of short edit cuts as Simon is rescued by Finn and Mandlebrot through the intervention of Jamil, Khaled, and Ahmed, while Annya worries at a distance; here I think the constant viewpoint shifts work well, creating a pattern almost like that of the carpet as the loose threads are gathered up. 
(Refers to key scene in carpet weaver Ahmed's workshop. E.E.)
I really liked the opening -- very filmic and sensual also, visual and kinaesthetic and with a sense of the pulsing of the ocean. This sets the scene at a profound level, as elemental energies will become as important as characters in the unfolding tale.

Finn is well introduced, but there is an inevitable difficulty in leaving Annya's drama on pause while his backstory is unfolded, which means that the main interest lies in beautiful writing and the power of the theories articulated and implied. These are both strengths, but tightening the early sections would enhance the narrative energy too. (DId do. E.E.)

Much of the dialogue -  especially in later section - is great: interesting, imaginative, informative and often humourous. I really like the sensuous moments between Annya and both her lovers - especially Finn. I did wonder whether as a love story this would work even better if Simon was Annya's brother rather than lover, but by the end was convinced; the second, more human act of love is important.

In conclusion: The complex layering is carried successfully by a strong and simple plot: Finn recalled to earth to help humanity - and ironically bring about the train of events that will lead to his own conception - combined with a 'Chekhov's gun' sub-plot - a dramatic hook (Simon's mission) which comes into significant focus towards the end of the story. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to have an early look, and I hope you find these comments helpful and encouraging.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


In my last post I wrote ‘Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.’ A few days later - today, in fact - I report something rather different.              

I dreamed a dream last night. Nothing unusual in that. I dream a lot; I keep a dream journal; I share some of my most interesting dreams with friends - mutually, because they reciprocate in the sharing; and I write about dreams. I even wrote a book with Dreaming as part of the title. So maybe it’s not so much of a stretch to call myself something of an expert in dreams. 
I studied way back when - back then - in the 60s with a Jungian, himself an ‘expert’ in that he had studied with the great man, C G Jung himself. But even well before that I intuitively understood that dreams, though sometimes trivial or muddled, were capable of bringing vital insights into our consciousness from a part of ourselves which is free from the control of our waking mind. And being free, they are likely to deliver vitally important messages - messages  which our everyday self has censored. Our ego self likes to see us in a more idealistic light and develops strategies which deny or avoid its more unpleasant aspects. Many of the monsters of fiction arose from the world of the unconscious; Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein and his Creature, as examples from past literature, with our multimedia today constantly throwing up ever more exotic visions for our delectation.

On the other hand dreams may also reveal parts of ourselves that are more courageous, smart, talented, or spiritual than our every-day self. Their scope is endless, revealing glimpses both too brilliant to see clearly, or so deep in the shade we can't see that aspect either. 
Then of course there is Lucid dreaming. This is where, with a part of our mind still on the edge of sleep we train ourselves to capture elements of a dream and manipulate it, thereby taking back control again. And there may be something in this approach which could benefit us. But this opens up a whole new area for discussion. Maybe one for another day.

But returning to this day and the dream I dreamed last night.......

In last night’s dream ‘Everything that could go right, went right.’

How did I move from 'Everything that could go wrong' to Everything that could go right? What happened? I need to retrace my steps ........

My dreams of late have changed .... in the last few nights they no-longer carry messages from my unconscious which need to be interpreted by my conscious mind. There's a subtle but important difference.

Finding myself now a nightly traveller knowing myself as a new person. I have left the old me behind, and with her, all the old stuff she has carried from the past. And not only from her life of yesterday, but all the yesterdays down the ages, along with their karmic baggage. I observe myself, this new woman, a complete stranger, with interest -- fascination even. She is quietly confident, competent, taking everything she meets in her stride. Intellectually sharp and technologically savvy, yet she is relaxed and serene, soft, warm hearted. As I observe her in this moment, she is in the midst of a highly complex piece of work. This, she has either undertaken herself to been commissioned to carry out.

The me, Esme, the self who observes her, knows she would be out of her depth if she had been given this task. So she looks on in awe, marvelling that a woman so young and normal-looking has been entrusted with such a commission. We exchange glances. I understand from this that she is as aware of me as I am of her, and this look somehow fixes in me a 'knowing' that I am being challenged about what I hold onto as my identity and my 'reality'.

I wake soon after this and feel slightly troubled that I haven't been able to capture the full extent of what I understood whilst dreaming.

The following night I dream it again, and wake in the same way. Several nights in a row I dream the same dream, waking with a sense of frustration because I haven't 'got it,' but letting it go as I connect with the 'reality' of today and my need to get on with that. It's so comforting to return to my old self and the day-to-day reality I've always known. I don't have to bother with disturbing and incomprehensible challenges. I can let this strange new woman continue with whatever she's doing. At the same time I realise I will have to take up the challenge soon, and this creates a painful tension in my body. 

I won't run away from it, yet even acknowledging it intensifies the pain.



"Fear not," said the angel.

(This particular angel being that part of myself we variously call, our Higher Self or our Divine Self, Soul Self, Angelic Self. I wrote this down in my journal at periods in the middle of the two or three nights following the dream where I saw the complete stranger, my New Self.)

'And so, let us continue on this journey of ours, and this conversation where you commune with your divine self.

You dream once again of the New person, a not-yourself woman, and waking, you find your body reacting by seizing up. I have told you many time before that this painful and extremely uncomfortable sensation is a reaction to fear, and we have been trying out a few exercises to help you develop your own understanding of the phenomena you are meeting. A simple exercise -- we gave you an example of two people, let's call them ...  it doesn't matter, it could be X and Y or whatever you choose.

X is the Old you, the familiar, everyday you. She has your identity, (which, by the way, is just another illusion,) she has your memories, all your past in this life, the family, friends, events and incidents - everything that shaped your present life. X is constantly remembering details from the past, comparing and contrasting herself with others, "This is what happened to me; I made such mistakes;  if I do this I'll miss out on that; if I don't do that I'll be sorry because look what happened last time; he is much better than me at... ; she has the advantage of a better...  better luck, better body, more attractiveness, greater talent... " on and on it goes. I'm not saying this picture is exactly you, you've more sense, more balance that that, haven't you! but just giving an illustration. X, the old you, lives in the present but is fearful of the future because of her experience of the past. You see the linearity of that? Yes, living this way we do create our reality, but we have created it out of our past experience and it is biased towards victimisation and lack - insufficiency of some kind, be it self-worth or health or wealth.

Let's carry on with this exercise and look now at Y.

Y is the same person but she looks at the past that she created and takes responsibility for it. She knows she gave her permission at some level for all that she experienced as she travelled her pathway. And what a lot of experience she did gain! Now she has arrived at that place where she looks in the mirror and sees herself, values herself, loves herself, and feels much better about herself all round. Her future is now filled with promise; new potentials are there on the table ready to be picked up. She lives in the Now, but it is a Now filled with compassion, love, understanding and self-awareness.

Think of it this way: This New Person lives now in the centre of a circle, no longer in the old linear manner with the Past behind, the Future ahead, and the Present You restricted by that continuum. Instead, by being in the Now, you're in the centre of a circle where you move on and up from level to level as your consciousness expands, and it's like being in a living, spinning spiral  -  a circle which is a spiral - hard to describe - but because everything around you moves at the same time and at the same rate, you don't notice yourself changing. You feel the same Self to yourself, but we see you as we've always seen you, from outside the illusion of linearity. With delight we see you 'becoming' - not the right word, but for now....taking up more and more of your real self - expanding into your Divinity, the I AM.

Out of this realisation a new Creativity flows in, and it is an energy which is changing the planet -  for you can't separate your human self from your planet. As your consciousness shifts and expands, so does the Earth's. Even though the Earth shakes, as it does - I'm sure you've all noticed - at the moment, weatherise -- extremes of heat or cold, rain or drought, fire and flood --  these are but her rebirthing contractions that you feel. But now you feel safe within your own knowing that You are the Creator. You have moved from Victim to Creator.

You stand upright in this New situation about to step forward - you take a step into unknown territory. You are about to encounter something you've never seen before, The Great Unknown - full of promise - a wonderful revelation. But there is no map drawn out for this new territory which opens up at your feet as you go forward into it. This shows what a powerful person you are. You forge ahead, and it comes to you that you have just given birth to something  - but at this moment you can't see what it is you've given birth to. And suddenly all your fears come flooding back - all the dangers, the traps, the sharp snags that you imaging you might encounter. Your fear of making mistakes. You are not done with the Old You yet. But this is as it should be. These are unknown waters, and the unknown is your creative territory - your playground. Step into it  - dive in - and discover the wealth of resources awaiting you, Shaman, Alchemist, Artist. There is more and more to come.....'