WHERE DID THE CONCEPT FOR YOUR NOVEL ORIGINATE?
I have always had a deep connection to the earth and its creatures. I was also a story teller to my children, just laying in bed as they settled down for the night, making them up in my head. I never recorded any of the stories. Michael and I went to a writer's festival outside the Vancouver Public Library and I talked to children's authors. One told me that was sometimes how writers started. At the time, I was telling a story to Michael and one character, a unicorn,stuck in my mind. I was thinking about the character, and on a road trip from Vancouver to Port Coquitlam, the concept for the novel took form as ideas flooded my mind. I started making notes, and began my research into environmental issues.
IS YOUR NOVEL BASED ON YOUR OWN LIFE IN ANY WAY?
Some portions are based on my life. For instance, Rosie was our cat in Maple Ridge, and we lost her in a move to Vancouver. I have immortalized her in the novel as a super cat. The strawberry patch in Nova Scotia was based on a childhood memory. In 1990, while working as a lawyer in Nova Scotia, I was poisoned in a sick building, and have massive scar tissue in my lungs from that era. I came to realize how polluted the environment had become even at that time when I became super sensive to all of the pollutants as I wore a carbon mask outside of my home. The hero, Michael, is the physical description of my Michael at that age, and has some of his characteristics, although the hero took on a life and character of his own as the work progressed.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DOES YOUR NOVEL DIFFER FROM OTHERS ON THE MARKET?
I have combined fantasy and science fiction, along with a strong environmental theme. It is not only a children's novel, but has multidimensional messages. The work is of an allegorical nature in many respects. I have used the genre of fantasy/sci to raise social consciousness of how the earth is being destroyed, and my hope is that children will be instrumental in turning the tide and saving the planet. I would be delighted to see the formation on earth of a group of environmentally conscious children called "Fellowship of the Snow Leopards".
WHAT THEMES IN YOUR NOVEL DO YOU BELIEVE ARE RELEVANT TO CURRENT NEWS TOPICS OR LIFE OR THE WORLD IN GENERAL?
Environmental destruction: The ravaging of nature for profit, the loss of animal habitat. As an example, the destuction of both bees and butterflies as they succumb to pesticides.
Eternal nature of all beings: Both Michael and Athena have experiences with loved ones beyond the grave.
Power of crystals: I have recently joined a meditation group and have experienced their healing energy. We have only scratched the surface with regard to the power of crystals.
Education of youth: Science in both BC and Alberta is being "dummied down" in regard to the environment, global warming and the interrelationship of all beings on the planet. In Alberta, the oil industry has imput into the curriculum.
The March, 2014 UN report on global warming is confirmation of the material in the novel. I found it particularly disconcerting that the snow leopard is one of the animals at risk for extinction. Milarepa indeed has an important message!
WHAT ARE 5 KEY MESSAGES OFFERED WITHIN FELLOWSHIP OF THE SNOW LEOPARDS?
1. The earth is under incredible stress. It is a living, breathing entity and is reacting violently (eg. superstorms) to the ever increasing onslaught of pollutants and destruction.
2. Animals, birds, fish, plants and insects are experiencing untold hardship and dying at alarming rates because of the lack of perservation of habitat and contaminants in their environment.
3. Love is the greatest force in the uiniverse. Through love and caring all things are possible.
4. The human mind has unlimited potential. We can change things for the better by unleashing the power of our minds.
5. Children are the hope for the future of mankind and this earth.