31 October, 2015

#Interview with Alan Joshua, #Author of The Shiva Syndrome

About the Author:
A native Philadelphian, Alan Joshua (pen name) is a Clinical Psychologist with a background in Forensic Psychology and Parapsychology.
Joshua has published many nonfiction journal articles.
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 while attending Temple and Saybrook Universities.
He has explored paranormal abilities, including alleged reincarnation, using hypnosis and in-depth interviewing of a wide range of “psychic” practitioners. Among his prized possessions are a shriveled, mummified banana (a product of one healer’s biopsychokinesis) and a small Austrian teaspoon curled by a German “psychic” healer while six people sat around him to observe. 
Joshua believes that what looks “paranormal” is a bias given by those in “ordinary” consciousness. Further, he claims that the so-called paranormal is an extension of human consciousness common to all humans and has had evolutionary value in the past and the potential to shape humanity’s future.
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.

An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Although it was never a formal decision, I guess since I could hold a pen; elementary school to be exact. I was/am in love with film and drew poster ads for exciting films—Destination Moon, for example–adding exciting text. Later, school compositions gave me the chance to exercise my imagination and share it. In art college, I studied creative writing under the poet, Gerry Stern. As a way of clinging to reality in a maddening situation, I wrote my first (unpublished) novel while working in a mental institution. The environment was as surreal as the book. Since then, my writing has been non-fiction articles and research.

What inspires you to write?
In part, the thrill of taking what is into the domain of what could be, whether sci-fi, paranormal, or extraordinary abilities—for creation and destruction—we have as humans.
Also, a grievous dissatisfaction with what we have done with our resources: our governments, our planet, ourselves. And what we could do to reverse, or at least halt, those processes.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
From my doctoral research into the mental processes of “psychic” or spiritual healers. I decided to write a screenplay, but it morphed into a book. From almost all reviewers’ comments, it still has a cinematic quality.
As to motive, I’ve been exposed to parapsychological research and even conducted a published study. The SHIVA Syndrome is fact-based fiction. I extrapolated from parapsychological research and set it in a mythological framework. I wanted to entice readers to investigate real psi research: the facts are as strange as fiction. Stanley Krippner, an internationally known psychologist and parapsychologist said, “In The SHIVA Syndrome, the author (a clinical psychologist) skillfully and ingeniously interweaves altered states of consciousness and parapsychology with genetics, paleontology, mythology, and religion to produce a frightening, brisk, and film-worthy story building to an intense climax. The story challenges conventional notions of reality, ultimately concluding that human consciousness extends well beyond the flesh–and offers enormous potential for both creation and destruction.”
It seems the story is so realistic that one Amazon reader captioned his review with “None of This Is Real! Really! I Hope!” This made me chuckle with satisfaction.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
That would be a spoiler. Let me say it’s a climactic chapter that is literally (or literarily) out of this world.  It was unplanned and came to me much like a vision. I was swept up by the images and characters and just went with the flow almost as an observer.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Certainly. I can identify many of my “hang-ups” in just about all characters. I think that applies to most writers. Those I found more difficult, I had a storehouse of (past and present) therapy  clients I could use.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
That’s really asking what’s interesting to me.
Learning how to surrender. In writing reports for courts or attorneys, it was self-controlled, compulsive, fully conscious and rational.
SHIVA drew on letting go, quite the opposite. Characters led me along and developed their own stories and dialogue.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read, but love audiobooks as well. I guess that hearkens back to childhood and being read to while I could close my eyes and travel with the author’s words.
As to authors, virtually all major sci-fi writers. Although a playwright, I would add Paddy Chayefsky for his only novel, Altered States. They all were part of the foundation, but I wanted to take Chayefsky’s noble attempt further than he could.
Finally, I must add Shakespeare. From the comedic to tragedy to the paranormal. He was the master.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
My wife, a complete work of all spiritual readings, and the survival manual I could find.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I was a prankster as a child.
I love surprising a people.
I fought a career counselor in college, refusing her fervent suggestion that I become a psychologist. Seven years later, still against my will, I became a psychologist. Ultimately, I surrendered. You can’t fight karma.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
A possible sequel or prequel to The SHIVA Syndrome or a paranormal homicide with a most unlikely victim and murderer.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Only that I hope they’ll get as much enjoyment from reading SHIVA as I had in writing it. Because it’s based on real sciences, I also enjoy feedback and answering any questions they may have.
Thank you for having me as a guest, Debdatta.

About the Book:
Power from the past; danger in the future.
Science opens the door for humans to reach God-like powers of creation and destruction. 
A secret Russian mind research laboratory erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake. Beau Walker, a psychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research project, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the catastrophe. An ordinary scientific investigation leads Walker and the research team into alternate realities. 
Walker struggles against political and military deceptions, deadly superhuman adversaries, and personal demons to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome, risking his life and the very existence of humankind. 
The SHIVA Syndrome offers a dizzying ride into extraordinary human abilities. Prepare to alter what you believed was reality.

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