Lightpoints by Peter Kassan-A Review and Interview with the Author
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 25, 2013
Order links: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Barnes and Noble / KOBO / The Book Depository
What if you suddenly discovered you had a sense—and powers—that almost no one else in the world did?
When Amanda Lindner Nichols, a 24-year-old graphic artist living with her husband in Queens, New York, is revived from a near-death experience, she discovers she perceives everyone around her as points of light—but not with her eyes. She soon learns she can not only perceive the life energy of others, but she can give and take it. With the help of others like her, she brings her husband Chris to the brink of death and back to bestow on him the same remarkable faculty, and they’re the happiest they’ve been.
But not for long. All over the world, people who’ve been revived from their own near-death experience at just the right moment discover themselves with these same unusual powers. They find ways to use them—some for good and some for evil. When Amanda and Chris encounter a ruthless group of gangsters with the same faculty, tragedy follows—and Amanda faces the greatest challenge of her life
REVIEW: Lightpoints by Peter Kassan is an interesting twist or version of the Near Death Experience (NDE) that many talk about having. It includes Out of Body Experience (OBE) as well. It goes just a little further and explores what would happen if in some cases a person was brought back after just touching “The Light” and not joining it. In this story those lucky (or unlucky as the case may be) people have a new faculty to their persona, they now, in addition to their other five senses, perceive all human life forms as points of light. Which, at least at first, is quite overwhelming. They actually see these points of light through walls and over distance. This makes for a very unique experience. Many are able to distinguish moods and quality of the “light’s” life. Like if they are agitated, calm, severely disturbed…etc.
The story begins with Amanda Nichols, a graphic artist saying goodbye to her father at Grand Central Terminal and going toward the subway to finish her commute…when she is attacked by a wild eyed crazy man with a knife. She has an OBE (watches her body as people try to help her), as well as NDE (including seeing her long passed grandmother and a favorite uncle) and just as she touches the light is brought back by a defibrillator. The experiences are well written and very graphically interesting.
Mr. Kassan then jumps to Atlantic City, NJ two years prior to Amanda’s attack, as gangster head Carlos Herrera is shot and also has the OBE/NDE experience and is brought back with the extra faculty.
We hop back to Amanda as she awakens in the hospital with her husband Chris, an artist and her mother and father nearby watching over her. She struggles to understand the overwhelming “lightpoints” faculty without disclosing what she’s seeing to anyone else for now. She also found a new sensation when she kissed her husband, a strange tingling in her lips which made her break the kiss off.
The story begins alternating between Amanda’s recovery and Herrera’s recovery. We begin to discover the way they perceive the “lightpoints” and the different senses they gain from them. I’m not going to do a lot of spoilers, just try to explain the direction of the story. I will tell you it’s interesting even fascinating as Mr. Kassan weaves a tale of the most unusual.
As they become aware of their new faculty, and the dangers it presents. It seems they can absorb another person’s life force or energy by kissing and in some cases laying hands on them. This can be done is small doses that leave a person in a trancelike state that makes them a virtual slave, with no memory of what happened when they wake up. However, if they sustain the contact, they can actually kill the person by absorbing all their live energy. On the other side of the coin, they can gather energy from a crowd (like a dance club) and share it with a kiss. This means that it is possible to give energy to save a person’s life, as in the case of a heart attack.
There are many others, but not everyone who has a NDE has the faculty. Resuscitation has to happen precisely as they touch the light, but not join with it…for the person to come back with the faculty. Kassan explores many more people who use the faculty for good and those who explore the darker side of it. There is the way it also changes the person’s life and makes it hard to relate to a spouse in the same way as before the accident.
Amanda and Chris come to this point and decide to try to bring Chris to the point of OBE/NDE and back so he can obtain the same faculty and he and Amanda can be happy and complete again. Using friends they have made with the faculty, Lisa and her doctor husband John (both having the faculty – another tale) they accomplish their goal seemingly with relative safety.
Okay, I’m not giving anything else away! I know, I’m so bad! LOL. You really must read this story for yourself to appreciate the intricacy of each story as well as the danger and suspense of when the good and bad clash.
The ending left me wanting more…much more! I want to know more of what happens and more stories. I hope this is the beginning of a series, because there were unfinished tales and I really want to know where they lead. I found Lightpoints an excellent read and would like to have much more of this marvelously thrilling subject.
Copy supplied by the author
Reviewed by Georgianna S.
TRC: Hi Peter and welcome to The Reading Café. We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Follow Peter: Website / Blog/ Goodreads
Peter: What can I say about myself? I’m a formerly young man. I began seriously writing fiction in my twenties, but I got a bit distracted along the way—for about twenty or thirty years.
TRC: Your website bio states you have had a number of careers, one way or another, in the field of writing. What has been your most memorable experience?
Peter: My most memorable experience as a writer was getting a job at Children’s Television Workshop as a staff writer of a television show they were developing. I had hoped to get a job writing for The Electric Company, which I loved, but there were no openings. I was given a chance to write an audition script for a new—here comes a mouthful you’ve never heard before—adult comedy variety health education show. I had a wonderful time writing the script and I got the job. I thought writing for a CTW show was going to be my dream job, but it was probably the worst job of my life. Although I worked with many wonderful people, I didn’t get along with my boss, the head writer, and that made it a nightmare. The show was reviewed in Time Magazine as the most dismaying new show of the season, and I was let go along with many others on the writing staff. It was both a terrible disappointment and a great relief.
TRC: Lightpoints is your latest release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Peter: The premise is that, under very rare circumstances, ordinary people discover themselves endowed with a new sense. I’d always been intrigued by the question of how one could explain vision to someone who had been born blind or hearing to someone who had born deaf. I had the challenge as a writer of convincingly conveying a faculty that none of us actually has—and the equal challenge of writing how my protagonist, Amanda, tries to explain it to herself and others.
TRC: How were you able to keep your plotline unpredictable without sacrificing content or believability?
Peter: In a novel such as Lightpoints, a reader’s willingness to accept the premise—to believe something unbelievable–is the ticket to admission to the ride. It’s my responsibility as a writer to be fair to my readers. Because, in a paranormal novel, people have powers no one actually has in real life, it’s too easy to invent a new supernatural ability whenever the protagonist needs to get out of a jam. So whenever I knew I needed Amanda to be able to do something in a later scene, I tried to lay the groundwork for it beforehand. Many times, that really meant going back and rewriting an earlier scene.
I tried to make the plotline unpredictable by exploring several different and apparently unrelated threads exploring how different people around the world made use of their new faculty. Only one of those threads converges with Amanda’s—to disastrous results.
TRC: Who or what was the inspiration behind the storyline?
Peter: I’ve always liked stories in which the writer explores how people would actually behave under unusual circumstances. I had had the idea of a new faculty that allowed people to perceive everyone else around them a while ago—actually, when I was working on that television show I told you about. It was just a vision—although that’s the wrong word, since the sense I imagined didn’t involve sight—of people somehow glowing or radiating energy. And other people being able to perceive that energy. But I didn’t have any idea what to do with this.
Many years later, I decided I wanted to write a paranormal novel, but I wanted to create a new kind of paranormal being that no one else had written about. I remembered my notion of a new sense that people don’t actually have. I quickly realized that, for the story to go anywhere, they would have to have more than just a sense—so I invented some powers people also acquired when they got the sense.
TRC: How much research (logistical, theoretical, philosophical, etc.,) was involved in the writing of Lightpoints?
Peter: It’s funny you ask that, because many years ago, before personal computers, the Internet, and the Web, I hated to do research. A long time ago, I decided to write a novel that took place during the Great Chicago Fire. I’d pack up a file box of index cards and drag myself to New York’s 42nd Street Library to do research. I’d find a book I wanted to look at, fill out a call slip, turn it in at the desk, and sit at one of the great tables to wait. It was incredibly boring, and all I wanted to do was put my head down and take a nap. I didn’t get very far with that project at all.
Years later, when I was writing about artificial intelligence, I found that, thanks to the Web, I loved doing research. If you needed a book, you could usually find it on Bookfinder.com for a few dollars. So when I wrote Lightpoints, I had no concerns. I’ve always been interested in and familiar with many of the subjects in the book, so I didn’t have to do any research ahead of time. As I wrote, if I discovered I needed more information, I’d just do a quick Internet search and continue writing. To be convincing, a writer doesn’t actually need to know much—all it takes is the right telling detail in the right place.
What part of the storyline was the most difficult to write and why?
In a story like Lightpoints, the protagonist must face an antagonist. Since my premise was that people with this faculty were extremely rare, the most difficult part of the storyline was to find a way for the antagonist to become involved with Amanda. I had to make several changes to the structure of the book before I was satisfied that their convergence was not only possible but plausible and convincing Then, once I had them meeting, the next most difficult problem to handle was how Amanda would overcome her antagonist. That, too, required several tries before I found a solution I was happy with.
TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series or is this a standalone storyline?
Peter: I have to admit that I don’t understand how people can know when they write one novel that it’s the first of a trilogy or a series. I find it hard enough to construct an engaging plot for one book. That said, when I wrote Lightpoints, I knew there was the possibility of other stories based on the same premise. As I saw it, I could either continue the story of the protagonist and other characters from Lightpoints or I could develop a story about entirely new characters who happened to have the same sense. I began working on a sequel about Amanda, but in a new situation and with a new bad guy. That’s on hold while I work on some other things—and until I find out whether readers want to read more about her.
TRC: What difficulties have you faced getting your novel to publication?
Peter: Before I found my publisher, Melange Books, I had sent query letters out to about a hundred literary agents. I got no responses of interest. (There actually are several websites devoted to the subject of writing good query letters, but getting the authors of those query-letter-critique websites to look at your query letter is about as difficult as getting an agent to read your novel.) I think that unless you’ve already famous or notorious, had something published (not self-published), have a personal connection, or can get a recommendation from someone like a professor of creative writing, the chances of a first novelist to be read by a reputable literary agent or a hardcover New York publisher are nil. Fortunately, my publisher found my query letter not totally uninteresting, and asked me to submit the manuscript. I’m now a first-reader for Melange, so I see how many manuscripts they have to look at to find ones worth publishing. I’m happy to have been a needle in that haystack.
TRC: What five things would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?
Peter: Well, I’m not a young man, so what I want most to accomplish in the next years is the next ten years. That said, I’d like to write a few more books.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Peter: I’ve been toying with an idea for a science fiction novel for young adults. I have a situation that I’m happy with and I have some notions about the protagonist and some other characters. Unfortunately, I don’t yet know what the protagonist’s predicament or what his goal is, so I don’t have a story yet.
I’m also working on a couple of other things. One of them is a sequel to a novel (in an entirely different genre) that was published recently under a pseudonym I’ve been using for a while. I’ve just started that one. The other is under a new pseudonym and also in another genre. I’ve written about thirty thousand words of that, but that one’s on hold because I don’t like the relationship between the two main characters and I need to find a different dynamic.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Peter: I find it ironic to be doing an author interview, because I used to believe that a writer should put everything you need to know to enjoy a novel into the novel itself, and that persona information about the author of a book should be irrelevant and might even be distracting. Of course, I insisted on that position even though I liked to read biographies and profiles of writers. If you like a book, it’s only natural you want to know about the person that wrote it. But the pseudonym I use for other writings uses only initials and not a first name, because I want my readers not to know whether the author is a man or a woman.
Favorite Food: Chicken parmigiana
Favorite Dessert: Anything chocolate (but without coconut or strawberries).
Favorite TV Show: Can’t decide between two: Law & Order: SVU and House. With both of these shows, I’ll watch the same episodes again and again.
Last Movie You Saw: In the theater: Silver Linings Playbook. On television: The Impossible.
Dream Car: I grew up in Manhattan, where very few people had cars, so I have no emotional connection to cars and don’t have no dreams about them. I dream about Lightpoints becoming a movie.
Last Vacation Destination: Montreal, Canada (to visit friends).
TRC: Thank you Peter for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best.