Alan Joshua is a Clinical Psychologist who has published many nonfiction articles. Fascinated by creativity and paranormal abilities, this led to his involvement with Psychology and research into Parapsychology. Joshua has explored alleged reincarnation and paranormal abilities using hypnosis and in-depth interviewing of a wide range of practitioners. In addition to classical readings, he is a science fiction fan and has been influenced by such writers as Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Heinlein, and Phillip Dick among others. An avid Star Trek fan, he is fond of contradicting Gene Roddenberry, believing that the study of human parapsychological potentials, not space, is “the final frontier.”
Tell us about your new release.
My novel, The SHIVA Syndrome, is a multi-genre thriller that includes science fiction and the paranormal. You might think of it as Altered States on meth and LSD. I’ve been surprised and pleased by how reviewers like the Midwest Book Review and Portland Book Review spoke so highly about it.
The Portland Book Review acclaims The SHIVA Syndrome as a “fascinating book! It’ll magnetize you just like the penetrating gaze of Hindu’s god Shiva and his animal companion on the book’s cover, although the relation of this god of destruction and creation to the book’s topic is symbolic. The SHIVA Syndrome is a sci-fi thriller, a mystery that unfolds on a background of myths and religions, biotechnology, military power, politics, and paranormal human abilities…The descriptions of events and characters are very vivid and engaging. Having the right amount of adventure and romance this crisscrossing genre tale isn’t just a good read, but may also look great on a big screen.”
What led you to write this book?
I did some parapsychological research when I was working on my doctorate. The findings surprised even me. I’ve been exposed to the so-called paranormal in many ways, including paranormal experiences as my own. I use the word “so-called” because I’ve come to realize that what we consider paranormal is based on our point of view. My own feeling is that the paranormal represents extensions of what is normal human potential.
So, The SHIVA Syndrome grew out of my research and personal experiences. One of the strong motivations I felt was to take actual parapsychological and consciousness research and blend it into a fictional scenario. I’m hoping readers will be engrossed in the story yet aware that many aspects of the story are real paranormal abilities.
Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?
As a matter of fact, it did. As a psychologist and parapsychologist, there were many real, widely accepted concepts. As I inserted these elements into the story line. I was surprised to find that my earlier understanding of them reached a deeper level, because I was looking at them through the eyes of the characters. Some of the revelations were startling and made me respect the power of the creative process even more than I had.
Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?
I have quite a few, ranging from Frankenstein’s creature to Valentine Michael Smith of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land to Dr. Edward “Eddie” Jessup of Chayefsky’s Altered States.
Shelley’s “monster” would be fascinating as he is totally unlike the film’s creature. Most people are more familiar with the 1931 film version, and not the man in Shelley’s book. If they took the time, however, they would be surprised at the gentle, caring, and intelligent being Frankenstein created.
Javier, the policeman from Les Miserables, and Dr. Jekyll would be other interesting characters to interview.
Too many of us—including me—are easily satisfied with sensationalized, oversimplified, unidimensional characters fed to us by the film industry.
Which book impacted you as a teenager?
Moby Dick leads the pack. The mysterious white whale being tracked by the obsessive Ahab was fascinating, even before I became involved in psychology. After I was in the field and more familiar with symbols, Ahab’s spiritual transgressions and madness became more understandable. I still find them occasionally among my psychotherapy clients.
Do you read the same genre you write?
Not necessarily. I’m more of an omni – reader. I recently reread The Great Gatsby, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and am now reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Ray Bradbury will follow that. I guess this is due to my broad interests. It’s also helpful because it acquaints me with a variety of styles of writing that go beyond being locked into a genre.
Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?
For sure. Writing involves identification with your characters. In my novel, Beau Walker is exposed to some horrific ordeals, both internal and external. I have to be careful about avoiding spoilers, so let’s say that one of the characters undergoes a “death” experience which was very chilling and reached into dark places within me that were frightening.
Walker turned in a circle. The walls had no doors. When he returned to his starting point, the wall at the opposite end of the room had disappeared. Stark sunlight flooded in. His arm shading his eyes, he approached the opening. An immense, rolling landscape spread before him. His jaw dropped as he stood at the threshold and gaped at the lush foliage and rocky prominences. Smoke spewed from a distant volcano. Perhaps eight hundred yards away, concealed in part by tall grasses and tree groves, a group of large, furry animals browsed the vegetation.
Walker stepped out onto the grassland. Then, clutched by anxiety, he looked back toward the specimen room. It was gone. He was alone in a wilderness smelling of sweet grasses and flowers.
He climbed a rocky hill, hoping he could see the lumbering animals more clearly. The pain in his injured leg slowed him, and the baking sun dragged perspiration out of him.
At the top, he watched the herd feeding leisurely. “Mastodons!” I’ve got to get closer.
He moved down the rough walls of the hillock and worked his way along a game trail. A sudden, resounding roar from a ledge above made him freeze in place. Holding his breath, he raised his head slowly. Overhead, a huge, slavering cat’s head peered down, its lips drawn back, revealing four-inch long, scimitar-shaped teeth. He pressed into a niche in the rock wall, screwed his eyes shut, and tried to deny the reality of his situation.
Another thunderous roar confirmed its reality. His eyes darted about, searching wildly for an escape route.
The sinister, striped beige-and-white beast appeared at the bend in the path. It sniffed the air as if relishing his scent, then moved closer. Slowly, gracefully, its sinewy body wound around the curved path. Its green eyes fixed on him, it dipped, coiling into a crouch, readying to spring.
A dark object shot out of a recess in the wall. The thick spear plunged into the cat’s side with such force, it was almost tipped off its feet. With a piercing screech, the cat writhed to free itself. Thick, steely arms forced it towards the edge, pushing it over the side, into rocks below before it crashed to the ground.
Walker released the breath he held, but his relief was short-lived. A barrel-chested figure draped in animal skins stepped into view, holding the blood-slicked, stone-tipped spear. The hulking man watched him expressionlessly. Thick, protruding brow ridges sloped back to reddish-brown hair, merging into a scraggly beard that framed his crude features. Was that a glint of intelligence in the man’s deep-set eyes? He seemed as baffled by Walker’s appearance as Walker was by his.
Could he be…A Neanderthal?