STAIRWAY 2 HEAVEN by Chaz Thompson- Review and Interview with the Author
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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release November 2012
In the 22nd century, a burned-out, fatalistic psychic is blackmailed into recovering a stolen formula that separates the soul from the human body. Cerebral, acerbic, wry, profane, Stairway2 Heaven examines the relationship between consciousness and corporate religion and personal spiritual empowerment.
REVIEW: STAIRWAY 2 HEAVEN is a sci-fi/futuristic fictional suspense novel that looks at the dirty side of corporate greed, big pharma and the philosophical/theological impact of separating the body and the soul. Whether you are a believer (or not) of all things spiritual or a version thereof, Stairway 2 Heaven will definitely make you think about the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘whys’ of the complicated Triad of big business, religion and medicine. And if you believe, you are like many skeptics, big business and medicine are inseparable and irrevocably connected to (and involved) in our daily lives.
The premise follows Matthias Chalmers, a retired psychic in the 22nd century and the fall-out of a research experiment gone horribly wrong–or right– depending on your view point, vantage or need. When Matthias’s twenty-nine year old son Lanier, a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome and a genius IQ ‘accidently’ separates his soul from his body while developing a new toothpaste for GORIS pharmaceuticals, Matt will become the pawn in a deadly quest for the ultimate prize.
The storyline is written from Matt’s POV covering various back and forth timelines and intersecting plots. We journey with Matt as he reflects on a lifetime of sins and the past indiscretions that got him to where he is today, all the while on the search for the elusive formula that has gone missing and presumably in the hands of someone close. With a price tag on his head and a target on his back, as well as threats against his family and friends, Matt will discover that even the Vatican is not exempt from the reaches of corporate greed and the possibility of life ever after-but the Vatican wants to destroy the procurer of the ultimate sin.
STAIRWAY 2 HEAVEN is awash in a philosophical and theological conundrum-if there is a way to separate the body from the soul, would you be willing to pay the ultimate price for a chance at a new life? Thompson’s writing pulls the reader into a storyline that will make you think about what really goes on behind the scenes of big corporations, medical research and the quest for the almighty dollar. Add organized religion and the Vatican-you have a story that will question the ideology of our society-who truly is in charge of our daily lives?
Stairway 2 Heaven reads like a movie-the reader is pulled into the fast paced action, the anger, the angst and the chase as Matthias Chalmers must find the stolen formula or face the possibility of his own death and the death of everyone he loves and knows. Chaz Thompson has written an amazing storyline that will fascinate as well as examine the possibilities of a pharmaceutical discovery that could change the concept of body, soul and life ever lasting.
Copy supplied by the author
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Chaz and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of STAIRWAY2 HEAVEN. We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
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Chaz: Born in the very early ’50s I am now on the brink of retirement. I dropped out of high school in 1969 and literally joined the circus. Just one of those southern Californian, suburban street-corner Barnum and Bailey “mini” circuses, but a circus, nonetheless. They had me cleaning up after the elephants and I imagined a cinematic life of adventure. They promised me a place on the payroll if I showed up in the morning. I was seventeen. When I returned the following morning with my guitar, the street corner was vacant.
So I hitchhiked around, ended up in Wisconsin where I played clubs and pubs and the ever-familiar street-corner. When Disco arrived it killed my folk-singing, songwriting career, so I took a job as a clerk at the Madison Capitol building. This introduced me to graphics and I spent the next thirty years as a graphic artist.
Tell me when to stop. I married twice, fathered a handful of children (whom I adore to this day) and left graphics for a career in Real Estate at the exact moment of our recent economic meltdown. Hello customer service.
Along the way, I began writing screenplays and short stories and novels, and when the Self-Publishing boom developed I eagerly took advantage of the opportunity. Which brings us to today.
TRC: STAIRWAY2 HEAVEN is your latest release. A sci-fi, dystopian look at the 22nd century. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
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Chaz: I understand STAIRWAY2 HEAVEN gets classified as dystopian, but I don’t really see it that way. I neither praise nor condemn our social future, and try to represent it as a mish-mash of advancements and setbacks. I chose the future simply because I wanted to control the environment in which this mystical event could occur.
TRC: Who or what was the inspiration for Stairway2 Heaven- the novel?
Chaz: About thirty years ago I wrote a short story called “Concrete Eden” which contained some of the basic plot elements and the focus of the soul becoming disengaged from the human body. Since I wrote many, many short stories, it got lost in the drawer with the rest. Back when Geocities was popular I dug out the story of the “soul-stealer” and posted it, but it wasn’t until early 2012 that I stumbled upon it and decided to flesh out the characters. I’ve studied mysticism and physics off and on, and found the premise ideal for combining my own observations on the two. I came up with a suitable ending and voila!
The title is actually a tongue-in-cheek formula that reads Stairway(squared) equals Heaven. The Stairway(squared) represents the link between our daily experience and our connection with divinity. It also implies it’s a two-way street, a notion frowned upon by most established religions.
TRC: What research challenges or difficulties (logistical, medical, theologian) did you encounter when writing this particular novel?
Chaz: Research was a combination of what I had studied on the subjects of mysticism and physics prior to writing the story, and acquiring knowledge of Europe for the events that took place there, specifically Italy, since I have never traveled overseas. I will be eternally grateful for YouTube and Wikepedia. I am inherently an impatient writer, so the challenge was to patiently describe the environments in a manner that would engage the reader and not slow down the narrative.
TRC: If you gave your leading character Matthias an opportunity to speak for himself, what would he have to say?
Chaz: Matthias Chalmers is a very jaded, fatalistic individual, but by the end of the story he has come to a place where he has to admit that if Life doesn’t always make sense, at least we do have some sense of control, whether we admit to it or not. And his basic summary of his experience are the final words of the novel. However, he might address the world at large with these words: “I love you all, but leave me alone.”
TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about the storyline premise?
Chaz: That I am anti-Christian. Whereas I am certainly suspicious of the true motives of most corporate religions, every living consciousness deserves to benefit or suffer according to their own choices, physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. I would never dream of encouraging anyone to abandon their commitment to their church or temple or whatever based on my personal beliefs. The events in STAIRWAY2 HEAVEN reflect a dramatic fiction meant to represent ideals and concepts.
TRC: Many authors bound ideas and information with other authors or family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Chaz: My wife and a select collection of very twisted friends. And the secret society of personalities between my ears.
TRC: What five things would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?
Chaz: My goals are very generic, looking out ten years. Fundamental happiness through the experience of success, expression of creativity, and love. Specifically, I hope to achieve these through writing and my personal relationships.
TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about yourself?
Chaz: That I am secretive, anti-social even.
TRC: If you could select one reality show in which you were one of the contestants, which show would you choose and why?
Chaz: Oh, I loathe reality programs. The best reality show is out my window. The thing is, a window is a two-way portal.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Chaz: My next novel is the story of the relationship between two prostitutes, one of them has an ability which can only be described as paranormal (there I go being secretive again), and the other woman is homicidal.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Chaz: STAIRWAY2 HEAVEN is my attempt to offer a unique concept to anyone brave enough to read the story. I recommend no specific doctrine of knowledge or behavior, just the willingness and enthusiasm to venture toward new ideas, to expand deliberately.
Favorite TV Show
Big Bang Theory.
Last Movie You Saw
Last Vacation Destination
Do you have any pets?
Dogs and cats.
TRC: Thank you Chaz for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of Stairway2 Heaven. We wish you all the best in your writing career.
Chaz: Thank you for the opportunity!