Eric is the author of the suspense novel Miranda (published by Thorstruck Press) and a resident of Provo, Utah.
I read Miranda last month and was caught up in this gripping story of intrigue. It’s hard to put it down because it feeds into our concerns that we don’t really have privacy; perhaps we don’t have nearly as much free will as we think and that there is some shadowy organization that’s got its clutches into just about everything important.
Jeff: Eric, could you tell us a bit about the process that brought this book to life, how long it took you to write it and where the inspiration came from?
Eric: The idea soaked in my brain for some 20 years before I ever started typing. I had a terrible run of luck for a while and lost a few opportunities to coincidental mishap. Mail mis-route in one case and a car breaking down in another. After a while it occurred to me just how easily these things could be made to happen deliberately. I imagined a shadowy figure running around tampering with lives.
Miranda as a concept formed in an abnormal Psych class in college. Identifying a dangerous personality, or a useful personality could be accomplished by a system of tests in the school system at a very early age. After the identification, its easy enough to create a system of coincidental happenings to nudge a person one direction or another. Those people running the system can be left largely unaware. Simply set up the right policy and procedure outline and have access to the records.
There’s not much of a story there, just a world in which to tell the stories. Granted, it’s a pretty robust world. The idea of telling the story of the shadowy figure who *does know some of the behind the scenes facts and performs the distasteful tasks is a much more interesting way of giving the readers a glimpse into the inner circle of our secret society. The actual writing began after talking to a friend (whose name is Porter, not coincidentally) about my idea and he liked it so much he brought me a laptop the next day to write it on. How could I not start the story after that. It took me some 6 months to pound out the story, and some years to learn to write and revise it.
J: With motivation like that it would be tough not to proceed! In today’s society, with everything we see going on it’s easy for those thoughts to creep into our mind. We see real cover ups and wonder how many more are going on that we don’t hear about. Thoughts of paranoia can take hold without too much trouble and it seems easy to get caught up in reading stories about conspiracy theories. Could you speak to that?
E: I would love to. We tend to focus on the spectacular ideas – Aliens and the like. We see maliciousness around every corner and see that some wild paranoias exist. In truth the dangerous conspiracy is much more banal than that. We forget that everything is a conspiracy. If I make a grocery list with my wife, we have conspired to go to the store. Very powerful people, be they politician, businessman, scientist, or other, like to keep the power. They all have secret plans to squash the competition and control the market. Go to any board meeting or political office and tell me I am wrong. Remember, *you* are either the competition or the market. The goal is to manipulate your behavior through direct or indirect means.
The question becomes, at what point is this a conspiracy worth calling conspiracy? At what point are they powerful enough and good enough at the game to become an illuminate ranking group and is this even a bad thing? Sometimes I watch the disinformation spread around the internet, the lack of critical thinking in the mainstream, and I pray that there IS a group with enough sense to guide the outcome. Someone who wants to stay powerful and realizes that in order to do so, they need me to have the will and resources to support them. I know that a market has to be able to afford what I am selling. I think there are huge untapped resources available and it takes some very powerful people to develop them.
I often get asked if I feel any danger in publishing Miranda if I feel there really is a Miranda out there. I dont. The best thing they could do is allow me to publish. It discredits me. Then stir in a ton of disinformation and the story fades. We dismiss the people around us as potentially part of this because we separate ourselves, we think of our own religions, businesses and politicians as exempt simply because we know them. Which is of course what makes them able to manipulate us so easily.
J: It sounds like your journey to writing a novel was a bit different than some. Many writers seem to have an urge to write that takes place early in life, without any specific stories to write. It sounds like, for you, the passion for the idea ignited the urge to write?
E: Very true. I have something to say and I want to it do through fiction. It’s not about the conspiracy however. Its about human nature and how we are developing as a society and our maturity as a people. I try to put a context into the stories to make people think, which at first glance makes me sound a bit arrogant and I suppose I may be. Success to me is in making people question what they have assumed to be true. Miranda has part of that message. The rest will come as the story unfolds further.
J: You live in Provo, Utah, a place where the LDS church has a lot of influence. Some would say that influence is very controlling. Did living in this sort of environment have any impact on the writing of Miranda?
E: I would be lying if I said no. The worst tyrant is one who wants to save you from yourself, one who thinks he is acting in your own best interest. Greedy people can be sated but a religious fanatic can never be. The LDS church is, as a whole, benevolent. However, they are as willing as any religion to play where they are not welcome, as they did with Prop 8. They aren’t a violent people, they actually have a brilliant social structure and preparedness. There is a lot to admire about them; they are smart, educated, frugal, and driven. Still, they will take your rights away to accomplish their goals. People who advocate for legislation of morality are moving us closer to a theocracy. In a theocracy only one religion gets to be state sanctioned. That is my worst fear.
J: I like your comment about disinformation on the internet. For me, the most important thing I learned in college was critical thinking. I see people jumping on every urban myth and wild news story and think about our desire to believe gossip, and outlandish rumors. So many people want to be that person, the one who heard it first and let all their friends and family know some shocking truth. I know a few people who do this and I finally gave up trying to steer them straight. It seems this rabid desire to get to the bottom of things is just clogging up the works even more. Your thoughts?
E: One might think its deliberate; a method of hiding the truth in this ridiculous disinformation. If I wanted to discredit an idea, I would surround it with lies and half truths. I would arrange to have a bunch of nutty comments surround it and twist it until it became laughable.
J: Your main character’s name is Porter, and you mentioned Porter Rockwell in the story as being the source for that name. Rockwell is a figure we find in early Mormon history, but few Mormons know anything about him. I think most people have never heard of him. Thoughts on that?
E: Porter Rockwell is one of my favorite historical characters. He is often thought of as a part of secret society and there is some grounds to support that. I snuck him in because his colorful life reflects the nature Miranda’s employees share. He was very possibly a mass murderer, but was without doubt influential in the direction the entire western development took. He did what he did (presumably) out of religious fervor. Or perhaps he was a sociopath…who knows. Either way he fits the Miranda profile.
J: Miranda makes us think. It makes us wonder. It worries us a little. What do you hope Miranda’s effect will be on people?
E: I hope they realize that we still have the power. I hope they realize that critical thought will save us. I hope they understand that nice and good are different, that hard and evil are different, and that a lack of accountability is why power corrupts.
J: And lastly: earlier you said “The rest will come as the story unfolds further.” Is there a sequel to Miranda? If so, what can you tell us about it?
E: Yes there is. Its called ‘The Mark of Kale’. It takes the story deeper into Miranda’s inner circle and shows a little of their perspective.
J: Eric, thanks so much for letting us get to know you a bit better and sharing some thoughts about Miranda.
Eric uses the pen name Ayrich Mutch.
Click on the image to go Miranda on Amazon.com
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