Thursday, September 21, 2023

Q&A with Michael Eon




Michael Eon is the author of the new novel These Things Happen. He worked in the entertainment and publishing industries for more than two decades, and he lives in New Hampshire.


Q: Your novel was inspired by your own experiences--can you say more about that, and about how you created your character Daniel?


A: It all began as a cathartic processing of traumatic memories from childhood and adolescence that grew out of the moral inventory I wrote when I went through the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step process (Step 4, specifically) for recovery. I began journaling the experiences in greater detail and with greater emotion.


At some point, as I progressed in my recovery, I had the idea of incorporating those “memory stories” into a novel (thought about doing it as a memoir but given the subject matter and connection to family involved in the writing, who were still alive, I decided against it).


Because alcohol and drugs are only a symptom of deeper internal issues, the 12-step process allows for a great deal of introspection and examination into the real causes and conditions that have left one spiritually bankrupt.


The resentments and fears I’d held since childhood, whether for security or other reasons, as well as the experiences I endured growing up, served as the basis of conflict in the novel, and the resolution of those issues along with the tools the process provides for dealing with life on life’s terms served as the basis of resolution in the novel.


My goal was to create a story that was both identifiable and comprehensive in the way it examined a particular character (Daniel) and his struggles with both trauma and addiction and spiritual growth and recovery. This is exactly how Daniel was created.


Q: How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The title “These Things Happen” was chosen late in the process, after I’d already begun revising the final draft. As I kept reading and revising, keeping in mind at that stage that I needed a title, I realized that the phrase had been used by three different characters at three different times in the novel. It was one of those “That’s it!” moments.


A driving theme in the novel is that life happens to all of us and that in order to live with some semblance of sanity and serenity, one must have the means to deal with life on life’s own terms, rather than on one’s own terms whereby we always seem to be in collision with someone or something.


The phrase “These Things Happen” encapsulates that idea. Stuff happens. Life happens. That will never change. And it’s one’s desire to move in the same direction as life, as opposed to against it, that can heal trauma and enable spiritual growth.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Daniel and his brother?


A: It’s an interesting dynamic because, on the one hand, Max is older by two years, but Daniel seems to be the one always looking out for and comforting Max, despite their constant  bickering at one another.


Having both been raised under the same roof by the same two people, the effects of this show themselves in different ways for each of them. In the end, Daniel seems to be on his way to overcoming those demons, whereas Max has a much more difficult time.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: My goal is to bring both reality and spirituality to the reader. I’d love if readers left the book with a better understanding of and more open-minded to spiritual principles and the concept of power through surrender.


I’d love if readers left willing to put some of the principles and concepts set forth in the novel to use in their own lives as a way to grow spiritually. I’d love if readers left with a better understanding of addiction and the addict, including the importance of familial relationships.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on another novel, a psychological thriller about a spree killer who was never caught, one of his victims who survived, and a rare bookseller who specializes in murderabilia, all of whom are addicts in recovery and whose lives intersect fatefully years later.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I think it’s important to note that while the “symptom” of the emotional and spiritual dis-ease that the novel deals with is “alcohol” and “alcoholism,” the book is not just for addicts and  alcoholics. Trauma, coming-of-age, spiritual bankruptcy… these are universal themes.


Although the solution comes from the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the novel, the reality is that the 12-step principles are universal principles—humility, honesty, faith, service—the same principles set forth in moral codes and doctrines for thousands of years. And the problem is almost always self-centered fear… fear resulting from mankind’s instincts run amok.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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