This is the second part of our interview with TR Williams, author of Journey Into The Flame, book one of the Rising World Trillogy, prefaced by another excerpt from the same book, which relates Logan’s (the main character of the story) experiences as he focuses on a candle in order to retrieve information that will be of great value to understand the secrets hidden within the Satraya Chronicles books and why some powerful people are willing to do anything in order to take them away from the rest of humanity. Enjoy!
If you haven’t already, read Journey Into The Flame, Part I
Excerpt from Journey Into The Flame by TR Williams copyright 2014 @ Atria Books, used with permission.
May this be the last moment of your fears.
May this be the last moment of your doubts.
May this be the last moment of your uncertainties.
May this be the first moment of your future.
– THE CHRONICLES OF SATRAYA
Washington, D.C. 10:20 local time, 5 days until Freedom Day
Mr. Perrot and Logan rearranged the furniture in Valerie’s den. They pushed the couch, the table, and the rest of the furniture off to the side. Logan took out a sheet of paper from his backpack and, after consulting with Mr. Perrot, wrote a question on it. Then Mr. Perrot dimmed the lights, and Logan sat on the floor in the center of the room. Mr. Perrot found a candleholder, placed the blue candle in it, and handed it to Logan.
“How do we know this is going to work?” Logan asked.
“I have no evidence to support it and none to discount it,” Mr. Perrot answered. “But that is what faith is all about.”
“To start, the Chronicles say to place the candle about an arm’s length away from you, with the flame at about eye level.”
Logan took the candle and did as Mr. Perrot instructed. “Sounds like you’ve done this before.”
“Camden once instructed a group of us about the flame. I worked on it from time to time through the years,” Mr. Perrot said. “I made some progress but not to the degree that Camden seemingly accomplished. You, on the other hand, may have progressed to a key point. Even though you never focused on a candle, perhaps focusing on all the artwork you have done sufficiently advanced your powers of concentration. It is written in the Chronicles that all of the techniques described are just tools. The most important thing is to learn how to silence our chattering minds. I wonder if you didn’t just find a different tool.”
“I never really embraced the fundamentals taught by the Chronicles like my parents wished,” Logan admitted. “But as you said, maybe painting was my tool. “
“ Let us hope so,” Mr. Perrot said. “Now, remember what Camden wrote. If the ringing sound starts, you have to keep focusing and keep going. Are you ready?”
“Wait,” Logan said. “Let me look at the drawing of the study again. I want to make sure I can remember what the room looks like.” Mr. Perrot handed him the sheet with the drawing. Logan opened and closed his eyes a few times, ensuring that the layout was etched in his mind. “Ok. I think I’ve got it.”
“Do you have the sheet of paper with our question?” Logan held up the folded sheet. Mr. Perrot lit the candle.
The only light in the apartment came form the candle. To Logan, Mr. Perrot soon appeared to be nothing more than a shadow. The candle flame crackled. Logan tried to relax, taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly. His mind was racing as he recalled the extraordinary events of the day: uncovering the secret tunnel, locating the hidden box, being apprehended by the police, seeing Valerie, and all he’d learned from reading the torn-out pages of Camden Ford’s journal. He continued to stare at the flame, but the harder he concentrated on it, the louder his mind chatter became. The flame was dancing like an anxious child as the minutes slowly passed. Logan could see the shadowed image of Mr. Perrot on the couch, and he heard the ticking of a clock that was hanging on the wall.
“I don’t think I’m getting it,” Logan said out loud, adjusting his posture and flexing his shoulders.
“You have to hold still, fight any desire to move,” Mr. Perrot whispered. “Camden said to start by focusing on something we enjoyed doing or some task we were good at performing. He told us it would help slow down our minds and help block out the chatter.”
Logan readjusted until he found a more comfortable position. He scanned his memories for a pleasant moment and began to focus on a day when he was teaching his children how to paint. It was a scene of the ocean. He remembered how he’d taught them to draw the waves and sketch the sky with many floating clouds. He remembered his daughter, Jamie, coloring in her first whale and his son, Jordan, drawing a submarine. As Mr. Perrot predicted, Logan was feeling more relaxed, his mind clearing. The flame, which had been frantically moving to and fro, settled down before his eyes. His mind was finding a peaceful place, and the flame was matching it.
Mr. Perrot sat perfectly still, watching Logan as he stopped squirming, as his breathing slowed, with his chest expanding and contracting less often. Several long moments passed. Mr. Perrot also started to focus on the flame, trying to recreate his focus from long ago. But then, suddenly Logan began to shake his head. The calm was broken. Logan rubbed his ears fiercely.
“What’s wrong?” Mr. Perrot asked as he jolted back from his own meditation.
“The ringing is back, worse than ever. It’s almost unbearable.”
Mr. Perrot sighed. “And for a moment there, it looked like you had achieved it.”
“Things got better once I started focusing on my children. But…” Logan looked up and braced himself with determination. “Let’s try again. I doubt even the great Camden Ford got it the first time.”
“Maybe you can do as Baté instructed,” Mr. Perrot suggested. “Allow yourself into the sound. Remember to embrace it as if it were a piece of music.”
“Right –a piece of music.”
Logan once again adjusted his body and began to refocus on the burning flame. It did not take very long for the ringing to start again. He remained steadfast this time, trying not to move. The more he attempted to dismiss the ringing, the louder it became. Embrace it like music, he thought. Like music… He brought to his mind the melody of a lullaby his mother used to sing to him. The ringing got louder, but so did the melody he was remembering. Soon the ringing sounded like a high-pitched whistle. He was fighting and struggling, caught up in a battle between the whistle and the song. It was becoming more and more unbearable, more and more impossible. But his eyes remained fixed on the flame, ever on the flame. He was about to give up, when the ringing suddenly stopped, the ghostly image of Mr. Perrot disappeared, and the slowly wavering flame faded into blackness.
Logan reached out and attempted to grab one of the many iridescent clouds that were floating by him. The ringing sound in his ears had stopped. He felt as if he were standing in the middle of a field in the frosty stillness of winter when a heavy snowfall hindered one’s vision. No two clouds were the same, each boasting its own color, shape, and size. A soothing electrical current entered Logan’s body as his hand passed through the clouds, as if he were a ghost walking through a wall. No matter how hard he tried to grasp a cloud, it would slip through his fingers and float away. A soft crackling sound came as the clouds, which were traveling in many directions, passed through one another. Where am I? Logan thought. What is this place? The clouds faded away, and the crackling sound diminished.
Logan found himself in the familiar restoration room of the mu¬seum where he worked. He was standing in front of the Michelangelo fresco that he was restoring. He looked closer at the space between the finger of God and the finger of Adam; there seemed to be some kind of static electrical discharge passing between them. It was like watching a lightning storm disturbing a once-peaceful prairie. Suddenly, the faces of the angels surrounding the image of God began to change. Thorny vines grew up around their heads. Thick old iron collars with broken chains materialized around their necks. The thorns continued to grow, piercing the angels’ skin, causing them to bleed profusely. The largest and heaviest collar of all appeared around the neck of God. Eventually, the entire image of God himself began to blur into a pool of blood. Only the image of Adam remained untouched. But the bloodied finger of God could not reach him. As Logan stepped forward and reached out to touch the painting, to determine whether what he was seeing was actually blood, the painting disappeared, and the restoration room faded.
Logan’s extended finger was now touching wallpaper that was peel¬ing off a plaster wall. He retracted his finger and quickly spun around to view his surroundings. He was in an old Victorian-style room with a large four-poster bed. He was not familiar with this place. A hooked rug covered a good part of the wood floor, and a fireplace occupied a corner of the room, its ornate mantel barren. The antique chair in front of the fireplace was pockmarked from sparks and embers. A strong wind blew through the room, seemingly coming from nowhere.
Logan moved to a set of heavy drapes that were drawn. He pulled them open and saw two iron-barred windows that looked out only on darkness. Logan grabbed the bars and pulled on them, trying to remove them, but he couldn’t. He felt trapped. Panic rose in him as he looked around the room, which seemed to be getting smaller and closing in on him. With one last effort, he pulled on the bars with all his strength.
He fell backward and landed heavily on a dirt path. Wherever he was now, it was sunny and extremely hot. He quickly rose to his feet and found that he was standing about thirty meters away from what appeared to be a Buddhist monastery. There was no one else in sight, so he walked down the dirt pathway leading to the entrance of the temple. Inside, two monks were working on a mandala, carefully pouring dark sand onto the ground. They didn’t seem to notice Logan as he walked around them. They were completely focused on their task. Logan tried to speak to them, but they seemed deaf to the sound of his voice. He paused and moved closer to see the design they were creating. He had seen many mandalas before, but this one was different. He stepped back as the monks rose to their feet and bowed to it. A strong wind blew through the open windows. Logan watched as the monks faded from his sight and wind scattered the sand of the mandala. As the wind grew stronger and stronger, the sand swirled around the room faster and faster, until Logan was caught up in it like a piece of debris snatched up by a tornado.
When the spinning stopped, Logan found himself in the old study, which looked different from how he had imagined it. Camden’s written description did not do it justice. The shelves that surrounded the desk seemed to rise into infinity, full of books and old, tattered scrolls. The study was illuminated by a dim light whose source Logan couldn’t iden¬tify and was scented with susinum, an ancient Egyptian fragrance de¬rived from lilies. Logan ran his hands along the shelves and attempted to read the titles imprinted on the books’ spines, but the writing was in a language he could not comprehend. He turned and looked at the large, ornately carved desk. There were two neatly stacked piles of paper on the surface, which was inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl. He leaned over and tried to read what was written on them, but again, he encountered the language he didn’t understand. All he could determine was that each pile contained eleven notes.
Logan felt something in his right hand. Yes, he thought. This is why I came. He was holding the note that he and Mr. Perrot had written for Baté. Uncertain about where to leave it, he gently placed it between the two piles of paper. Someone, or something, had meanwhile started to appear before Logan, the vapor of some shadowy figure. As he tried to make sense of it, the study faded, the shelves disappeared, and the desk vanished.
Logan found himself standing behind a minister performing a wedding ceremony. I know where I am, he thought. This is the wedding of the Magician and the Scholar. He recognized the setting from the photograph he had seen in Mr. Perrot’s album. He stepped out from behind the minister and was shocked by the faces he saw.
Immediately, everything went black. Then fragments of images flashed before his eyes: a blue candle, Mr. Perrot’s face, Valerie’s apart¬ment. He wondered where he would go next.
Interview with T.R. Williams – Journey Into The Flame Part II
1. The whole story takes place in 2057, 30 years after the Great Disruption, caused by a solar storm that hit the Earth and sent the world into apocalyptic chaos and that is when “The Chronicles of Satraya” are found. Do you believe that humanity has to go through such a catastrophic event in order to have a more widespread access to the kind of wisdom supposedly contained in these set of books?
TR Williams: No. The wisdom contained in the Chronicles is peppered throughout human history. No single book or set of books, no single religion, no single deity has claim to wisdom or insight. I suppose the real question is – what will it take for humanity to see the world around them differently? Sometimes it does take a great tragedy to change a person, a family, society, and a world – but it doesn’t have to be like that – it is all one’s choice.
2. Another underlying topic within the book is what is usually considered as conspiracy theories, where there is a group of people in the world who use their knowledge and power to control the rest. Why was it important for you to include this aspect within your story?
TRW: The Reges Hominum, or Kings of Men as they are referred to in the Trilogy provides a spring board for our main villain, Simon. In our history we clearly remember the tyrants who caused great harm to people and civilizations – but they, like Simon, were not alone in their quests. They had a great deal of support. Thus in the series, I use the Reges Hominum to provide this backdrop and merge into them some aspects of modern day conspiracy theories which adds some flavor to the overall story arc.
We must know that no single tyrant acts alone – trace their footsteps backwards and you will find the supporters of their scourge. This is true in our own lives as much as it is in the world at large.
3. One of the most intriguing characters in the story is Sebastian Quinn, who of all the characters seems to be one step ahead and acts as a guardian of humanity. Do you believe that there are such beings in the world at this moment?
TRW: Sebastian represents the archetypical character that we all have somewhere in our own lives. It could be the mother and father who are the guardians of their children and family. Or a brother, a sister a friend, who seemingly know what to say or do just at the right moment. In many ways we are a Sebastian to others, as we also have Sebastians for ourselves.
To your question directly, I do believe that there are guardians of humanity. Some are clearly recorded in history while others performed and still perform their duties behind a veil of anonymity.
4. Do you have release dates for the next two titles of the Trilogy?
TRW: Book II, entitled Journey through the Mirror is schedule for release in January 6th 2015 and Book III will follow one year later.
5. What kind of evolution can we expect from the main characters within your story?
TRW: The evolution of characters will take place on many fronts. As I stated above, tyrants do not act alone – that too can be said for heroes. Our main characters Logan, Valerie and Mr. Perrot will be joined by others as the Reges Hominum forge forward, undeterred. Even Sebastian will find support. Mysticism, science and art will again collide in a profound day. We can only hope the world survives.
6. Has the experience of writing this story had an impact in your own personal evolution?
Yes. It’s been very insightful getting into the heads and minds of the various characters. I had to learn to see the world through the colored lenses of many emotions. In doing so, I realized aspects of myself in every character I wrote about. A very humbling and evolutionary process.
TRW: I would also say that my appreciation of writers and their abilities for spinning a tale exponentially increased. I now have profound admiration those who conceive of worlds, shape the characters and then take the readers on a fantastic journey.
7. Is there anything that you would like to add for our readers?
TRW: There is a quote from the Chronicles that reads:
Opportunities for adventure are all around you. Whether the
adventure is small or large, short or long, find the courage to go on
one. It does not matter where you think it will lead; just know it
will lead to where you have never been.
The writing of the Trilogy was guided very much by this quote. There were many time where I myself didn’t know how the story should unfold. There were moments where I asked if I had picked the wrong piece of art, or the wrong setting in the world, or even the wrong character to hold a key piece of a puzzle – but I forge forward and let the characters do the story telling. I soon came to realize that I was simply a scribe recording what was unfolding before me.
I think our lives follow this precept. I am beginning to see that the adventures we create for ourselves also need occasions to sit back and allow something else to unfold them further. Those wait for it …. just wait for it…