23 August 2015

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Steve Lindahl on WHITE HORSE REGRESSION

This week, we're pleased to welcome author STEVE LINDAHL with his latest novel, WHITE HORSE REGRESSIONS. The author will offer one free copy of White Horse Regressions to a lucky visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

Hannah Hersman is haunted by horrific nightmares of Paige Stackman, her murdered lover. With the police investigation at a dead end, Hannah takes the unusual step of calling Glen Wiley, a regression therapist. Glen sends her back into her past life memories where they discover a cycle of violence and death they must break.
The sessions reveal that Glen and Hannah shared a life in Victorian London during which they knew Annie Chapman, whose gruesome murder by Jack the Ripper was similar to the fate Paige suffered. They find that the crime has repeated itself through the ages. The search for answers requires that Glen send Hannah back further, to a life she lived in China during the Han dynasty, where the cycle began.
Through the use of past life memories the novel covers three time periods, all involving backstage theater settings and the show people who inhabit them: a community theater in present time Vermont, a traveling circus in Victorian London, and a puppet theater in China during the Han Dynasty. The London scenes weave facts from the Ripper murders into the novel's plot while the scenes in China include facts from the story of the two monks who brought Buddhism up from India and changed the history of the world.
Glen and Hannah journey into the memories of their past lives to solve a murder that has been committed in their current existence and stop murders destined to happen after their deaths. In the process they learn about evil, love, and the eternal nature of the human soul.

**Q&A with Steve Lindahl**

Your work is historical fiction, but with a different slant. Can you tell us about that?

My books are past life mysteries, where a crime has occurred and a hypnotist is called in to find clues by looking at events from past lives. This process involves looking into memories that take place in distant places and times. The memories are seen through the point of view of characters who share souls with the people who are hypnotized.

White Horse Regressions begins with the murder of an actress in present day Springfield, Vermont. The victim's lover, Hannah Hersman, calls in a hypnotist, Glen Wiley, who sends her back – first to Victorian London then to China during the Han Dynasty. Past life memories are an excellent device for mixing historical fiction with a current plot, resulting in stories that work like time travel stories, but without the conflict caused by accidental changes to history.

Researching the people and settings of nineteenth century England then switching to Han Dynasty (first century) China was challenging and fun. I mixed real characters such as Annie Chapman, one of Jack the Ripper's victims and Emperor Ming, the emperor who introduced Buddhism to China, with fictional characters. To do so I had to get the facts right about the historical figures and ensure that the fictional people fit.

Where does the title White Horse Regressions come from?

The White Horse Temple is the first Buddhist Temple in China and a critical setting in the novel. But there are references to white horses throughout the book. There is a cult-like group that has functioned in all the incarnations. They use toy horses, horse stamps on packages, and real horses to identify and unify their group.

The dictionary definition of a regression is “the act of going back to a previous place or state.” A past life regression occurs when the memories of a former incarnation are brought out, generally with the aid of a regression therapist. I put these two concepts together to produce what I believe is a catchy title.

Did you choose to write about reincarnation because you believe in past lives?
I believe our souls are eternal and I accept reincarnation as one possibility. I have participated in past life regressions with some, limited success. But my interest is focused on writing novels. Part of that process is accepting whatever beliefs my characters have.

I choose to write historical fiction with a spiritual perspective that is broad. In Motherless Soul, my first novel, one of the main characters is a Presbyterian minister. She incorporates what she learns into her own faith and expresses her belief.

Today, more than a billion people profess a belief in reincarnation. It was once a part of accepted doctrine among early Christians, specifically the Gnostics. But my books are more about history, mystery, and relationships between characters than they are about a single religious belief.

What books and authors have influenced you the most?

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis probably influenced my writing the most. It is a time-travel story that sends a young woman back to England during the plague years and is a wonderful example of historical fiction within another story. In that case, the book is set in the future (2054) and goes back to the past. Other writers who have influenced me include: Jodi Picoult, Gail Godwin, Chris Bohjalian, and Leo Tolstoy.

Sometimes books influence me in ways that have nothing to do with my writing. For example, I discovered a character while reading The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks who lived for a time in New Jersey. That character never explored the lakes in NJ, even though he had loved water in his native North Carolina. I followed the same path in the opposite direction. I was raised on a lake in New Jersey and now live in North Carolina. I always missed the lake, so, after reading the novel, I decided to look around. Now, weather permitting, I go kayaking a few times each week.

Did you learn anything from writing your book? If so, what was it?

At times, research can be almost as much fun as writing. I loved learning about both Victorian London and ancient China. If I have to pick a favorite topic, I'd say I found the introduction of Buddhism to China and the story of the monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan to be the most fascinating.

But I always learn from my characters and in this book Hannah Hersman had a lot to teach me about relationships with friends as well as lovers. She also taught me about shedding fear to get more out of life. I have missed her a great deal since I finished writing White Horse Regressions.

About the Author