They say to write about what you know. When I was young, I had a near-death experience. Back then people didn’t understand much about the phenomenon, but I knew something extraordinary had happened. The search to understand the event fueled a lifelong spiritual journey.
After Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books published my first two paranormal thrillers, I wrote a novel about near-death experience told from the perspective of a young boy who drowns, has an NDE, and returns with a mission. Although Threshold is told from three alternating points-of-view: the boy, his teenage sister, and a Native American shaman, my literary agent didn’t believe it would be suitable for an adult market because the primary POV character was a tween. She also thought the subject matter too mature for a young adult market. Disheartened, I stashed the manuscript and—like a hidden and forgotten treasure—recently rediscovered it. I dusted it off, did a bit of updating, and the novel was released in November. The market has changed since I first wrote the book—YA readers have matured, and adults have embraced younger protagonists in popular fiction. Threshold hit Amazon’s Metaphysical Fiction Bestsellers List within three weeks of release, and reviewers are unanimous in their opinion that it is my best work yet. I believe that’s because I really did write about what I know.
When I died, I did not interpret the tunnel of light as a wormhole. Nor did the guide on the other side resemble Q, the omnipotent character from the Star Trek franchise. In trying to figure out the meaning of it all, I did not reflect on profound Star Trek episodes. Cole, my young protagonist, invokes Star Trek imagery because it is what he knows.
Following my NDE, my own spiritual journey took me through a variety of faiths and magical traditions, and many of those are touched upon in Threshold: shamanism, Wicca, mystical Christianity, and the Jewish Kabbalah. The novel is a tale about the lightside threatened by the darkside. This is because shadows follow Cole back through the wormhole, and terrible things begin to happen.
Threshold is a paranormal thriller about life, death, faith, courage, sacrifice, and the transformative power of love.
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Cole pulled Shiloh up short while he tried to get a fix on his location. They were on the shore of Deer Lake, the lake’s frozen surface looming gray before him in the early morning light. His grandparents lived in Johnstown, which was across the lake and beyond by ten miles. He remembered their house from family gatherings prior to his mother’s disappearance and was sure he could find it again because Johnstown was a small town. He decided that braving the bitter weather was a small price to pay if the journey finally closed the case of his missing mother.
Cole and Shiloh were near the river that fed the lake, and he could see the bridge which crossed it. As he urged Shiloh to turn in that direction, the sharp sound of splitting ice ripped the air. Horrified, Cole realized that he had misjudged the lake’s shoreline—the recent snowfall and wind-driven drifts had completely changed the landscape. Shiloh reared up in fear and caught Cole off guard. The horse bucked, Cole flew off, and he hit the split ice with such force that he crashed straight through to the freezing water below. Before he had time to react, a fierce undertow from the river captured and swept him away from the hole, deeper into the lake. Through the transparent sheet of ice that imprisoned him he could see where his sunglasses had landed, and beyond them he saw Shiloh trotting off in the direction from which they had come.
The freezing water caused little electric shocks to shoot through his eyes, but he found he couldn’t close them. His lungs screamed for air and he clawed uselessly at the thick ice in an effort to return to the hole. Finally, his movement was halted when his pant leg snagged on something rising up from the lake bed. He yanked hard, but couldn’t free himself. With a startled gasp, his lungs inhaled the frigid water which he now knew would be his grave.
I’m going to die, he thought with more amazement than fear.
He wondered what came next.
His discomfort passed, and the ringing in his ears stopped. He felt detached and distant to himself, then casually floated away from his body, up toward the sky. While he rose, he thought about his life. It hadn’t been too bad, all things considered, but he suddenly wished he had been nicer to Dawn Bearpaw and not ridiculed her for her handicap.
The light from the sun grew brighter, and it felt warm and comforting. He looked up into it and was surprised to see a vaguely familiar figure floating toward him. When they drew closer to each other Cole felt the power this being commanded, and a sense of awe filled him. For some reason, he remembered a character from Star Trek.
“Are you Q?” Cole asked.
The entity smiled and extended a welcoming hand. “Let’s fly together through the wormhole,” its mind said to Cole’s.
“Cool,” Cole responded.
“There’s a mission I want you to do that may save the lives of many other children, but it’s your choice. There is always the issue of free will to consider.”
That was right before the sky split in half, and they were catapulted into the starry abyss beyond.
Copyright © 2011 by Devin O’Branagan
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Threshold is available in both print and as an eBook. Find links to where it may be purchased here: http://www.devinwrites.com/threshold.html
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Devin O’Branagan writes paranormal thrillers, urban fantasy, paranormal chick lit, comic chick lit, and canine chick lit. Her bestselling urban fantasy, Glory, was nominated for the 2011 Best Popular Paperback for Young Adults List, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association. She writes a humor column for TAILS Magazine, is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and uses her writing projects to support animal welfare. To learn more about her novels, find out about her latest book giveaway, and join her popular writers’ forum, visit her website at www.DevinWrites.com