Spotlight The Journey by Dan O'Brien

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Welcome to the sixth day of The Journey blog tour. It will run until August 9th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:

The Frozen Man. The Translucent Man. The Burning Man. The Wicker Man. The guide known only as the Crossroads, together these are the signposts and totems of the world that the being called the Lonely inhabits. Seeking out the meaning of his journey, the Lonely is a being consumed by philosophical inquiry and adventure. Filled with exotic places and age-old questions, the Journey is a book that seeks to merge the fantastical and real. Join the Lonely as he seeks out answers to his own existence and perhaps the meaning for us all. 



A few questions for the author:


Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now? 

More than likely not. I have managed to get past outright anger anymore. There are frustrations that creep up now and again, but I imagine anything that long ago has no bearing on me today. 


What is your happiest childhood memory? 

Any time spent playing with my brother. We do not get to spend nearly as much time together as I would like, and it seems that this will not change anytime in the near future. I find that when I visit my family, many of these memories become more distinct, more heartbreaking. 


At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? 

Right now. I am attempting to do what I love despite the possibility of failure. It is a tremendous feeling that is both frightening and life-affirming. It remains to be seen if I can make this way of like my only way of life.



Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:


VI
The Crossroads Revisited


The Lonely watched as the world flooded back into view. Slowly ebbing like disturbed water and then eventually setting so that he could see his surroundings once more. 

“You have visited the Frozen Man?” queried the Crossroads. 

The Lonely remembered the tundra and rubbed his hands together. “I visited the Frozen Man, though I’m not entirely certain that it was a man.”

“A relative term I am afraid,” replied the Crossroads. 

“Man?” asked the Lonely. 

He looked upon the Crossroads and the being now resembled a vagrant. A hooded robe covered him, but was torn in places and splotched with dark patches that appeared wet. 

“Yes, the term to which you apply to the being the Frozen Man is not of gender, but of nomenclature. He is no more a man than I am a woman; or you a frog. It is simply what the being is called, only a word.”

The Lonely pondered this for a moment, looking toward the north. He noticed immediately that there was no longer a signpost for the North. 

“Where has the sign gone?”

“Which sign?” asked the Crossroads.

“The one that pointed north,” replied the Lonely. 

The Crossroads moved ever so slightly, his form seemed to shimmer through the air. He gestured with a covered arm, his hands beneath darkness. 

“The North is no longer available to you. Whatever it was that you were to learn from the Frozen Man has been learned. There is nothing for you now in the cold, hence you can no longer reach it,” reasoned the Crossroads. 

“So simply because I have learned it, I cannot return to it again?”

The Crossroads shook his hooded head. 

“Having visited there, you can never visit there again anew. With the knowledge you have now, the visit there would not be the same and the outcome would be different. Hence, you can never truly revisit the North.”

The Lonely crossed his arms over his chest. 

“What was he, the Frozen Man?”

“He was the Frozen Man: the accumulation of the North and its principles––the totem of ice and cold. He was the summation of cold, hard logics that lacked passions of any kind.”

“Was?” queried the Lonely. 

The world around the convergence of the four roads had grown gray and weary. The sky above was darkness and the air around them thick in haze and fog. Had the Lonely walked just meters from his spot, he would have been lost to the fogbank surrounding him. 

The Crossroads shifted yet again, this time taking with him a tendril of the fog around him. “The Frozen Man is no more. For you to have returned, he must be no more.”

The Lonely pondered this. 

“Did I kill him?”

“Would you wish him dead?”

“No, but the way that he thought, seemed to me in many ways to be a form of death. I suppose I felt he was already dead. His logics, his mannerisms, were such that I truly believed him to be the machine that he resembled in the end.”

The Crossroads looked at the Lonely with his vacant stare. “And thus, he is no more. You have yet to understand why you are here. Do you believe that this is a journey with an end or an end to a journey?”

The Lonely shook his head, his arms crossed over his chest. “It is a journey, is it not? I am searching for something, answers to which I do not yet know the questions.”

The Crossroads nodded, but did not respond. 

The Lonely continued. 

“So then my conversation, my words, killed him?”

The Crossroads moved about the dusty patch of land that they occupied. “There are four paths and four totems, one totem for each path, and each life. There is a truth hidden among the four: the Frozen Man, the Burning Man, the Wicker Man, and the Translucent Man.”

“Four totems? Of elements? Totems of what?”

The image of the Crossroads morphed again, now he stood as a wintry traveler. A gray fedora covered his silvery hair and a wool coat wrapped his slender shoulders. Smoke drifted from a pipe at his lips and the bill of his hat covered his eyes. Only his lips moved; the subtle glean of his teeth white. 

“Four totems of life.”

“I don’t understand,” said the Lonely. 

“You are not yet meant to. There is much to search for yet. As I recall, you cannot even remember your name or from whence you came?”

The Lonely hesitated for a moment. 

The Crossroads had not previously been so candid with him. “Indeed, that is true. Can you tell me my name or where I have come from? Even from what time I come?”

“When?” queried the Crossroads. “Have you begun to question your existence?”

The Lonely shook his head, looking to his feet once more: no shoes, tan skin. He was more confused than ever. “I am not certain of anything, though I believe that you know more than you are telling me.”

“I can assure you that I know no more than what it is that I am supposed to know. Just as you are only certain of those things that are most certain to you,” replied the Crossroads. His stoic tone belied the mirth of his riddle. 

“Riddles? Truly?” queried the Lonely with a raised eyebrow. 

The Crossroads seemed incapable of anything except movement––emotions, characterizations; some levels of humanity were beyond him. “I do not wish to burden you with the riddles of the eternal. I will begin again. I believe you remember how this goes. I am the Crossroads.”

The Lonely stood up straighter as if he had been scolded for slouching. “I am the Lonely.”

The Crossroads spread out his hands, the fog dissipating as if it had never been there at all. “What path do you choose?”

The Lonely considered for a moment. “I have already seen the North, witnessed its logics. I feel as though the south calls to me––the Burning Man.”

The Crossroads remained still. 

The fog had settled farther from them now. The Lonely could see clearly the remaining three signposts. “It is just as well, I suppose,” said the Crossroads. 

“Just as well what? What is that you are hiding?” asked the Lonely challengingly. 

The Crossroads shook his hooded head. “There is nothing more than you already know. The South is now your path. Go in peace.”

The Lonely nodded and started south. 

The fog was cold on his face and he closed his eyes, envisioning a broad desert, palm trees in the distance. There in the distance he could see the Oasis, the realm of the South. Time tugged upon him, space toyed with his form, and soon he was transported once again.



Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.



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