Have you ever considered the notion of reincarnation? Felt like you’ve been here and done that before? I know I’ve explored that sensation more times than I’m comfortable mentioning. What’s more, I have unexplained reactions to past events that make no sense to me. Today author M.G. Miller will take the stage and share the thoughts he has pondered on this subject. He has some very interesting examples that will make you stop and think. Please welcome M.G. Miller to the blog, creator and author of the literary work of art known as Bayou Jesus.
Remember Audrey Rose, Frank De Felitta’s staple of 70s horror whose blurb was THE Novel of Reincarnation? There used to be a time when you couldn’t go in any used book store without seeing at least a couple copies, with a young, wide-eyed Brooke Shields staring out from the cover.
But the 70s were all about reincarnation, UFOs and Bigfoot (and Farrah’s hair). Loved it. (And still do.) Couldn’t wait each week for Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of, a precursor to Unsolved Mysteries. Another novel from that time was Max Ehrlich’s The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. And while I’ve read both Audrey Rose and Peter Proud, even Shirley Maclaine’s Out on a Limb, I don’t know enough about reincarnation to say whether I believe in it or not, even though I’ve personally experienced some pretty strange and unexplainable things.
For instance? When I was writing the first draft of Bayou Jesus, set in the Deep South during the Great Depression, I had to do a great deal of research. There were times, though, when I was writing so hot and heavy, that I just had to keep going; didn’t want to lose my groove. If I came across a passage that required I double-check facts, I’d just fill in the blank and make a note to go back and research later. Nine times out of ten, though, when I did go back and research, I found that I was correct in my assumptions, without having known the facts.
A more detailed ‘for instance’? Bayou Jesus is set partly in Lake Charles, Louisiana, near the Texas border. I wanted something to symbolize the presence of evil, and the most believable thing I could come up with was the smell of sulphur, which is commonly identified with Satan. So, I worked a sulphur mine into the setting, hoping that I’d be able to keep it. And whatta ya know? As it turns out, there’s sulphur mining in the area. But how the hell could I have known that? Chalk it up to writer’s intuition if you want.
But why was I, a white man, so fascinated with the plight of blacks in history in the first place? I grew up in a Mayberry bubble, where the only blacks I encountered were on TV (and at the time, there weren’t very many there, either). But the year I turned seven, I started to have a recurring nightmare, one which plagued me nearly every night for a year.
I’m a black man. My hands are bound over my head with rope. The rope is tied to a white horse. The horse is running at full gallop. Up rocky inclines. Down ragged slopes. The rocks shred my flesh. I’m being drug to death.
And I woke, sick and terrified.
This went on for an entire year. When I turned eight, the dream stopped. What was its significance? What was I being told? Was I haunted or possessed by an outside force? Why did it come to me so vividly as a child? For that matter, why would any child dream of it? I’ve heard it said that children are much more open receptors to the spiritual and supernatural, and I’ve experienced some things that make me believe it’s true. It’s as we grow older that our receptors dim.
Now, I’m not here to say that dreams or sulphur mines are proof of anything; I did, after all, say that I don’t know enough about reincarnation to say whether I believe in it or not. But the question remains. Why did I seemingly have a sixth sense in the writing of that particular book? Why was I plagued as a child by dreams of being a black man drug to death by a horse? I could spend the rest of my days speculating, but I don’t think I’ll ever learn the answer.
And maybe, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Wow! Thank you, Mike, for that look into your past and into the making of your book, Bayou Jesus. Your story has really stirred my curiosity. So what do you think, readers? Could the story be a rough retelling of a past life? Or was it more on the lines of information being gifted to him for the purpose of the book? His muse busy at work, if you will. I was always fascinated with the story of Audrey Rose. Deep down, I felt like it should mean something more, but could never put my finger on what exactly. We’d love to hear your thoughts on reincarnation and the possible connections that may exist in the making of M.G. Miller’s book.
M.G. Miller is the author of numerous Southern Gothic novels and short stories. He has received awards from Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma states for his work, and is a former fiction editor for a national horror magazine. The book, Bayou Jesus referenced above, was recently re-released in its third run, and will soon be made available in audio book format. The book follows the life of one charismatic black man by the name of Frank Potter. He will emerge a gifted preacher and be called the Bayou Jesus. The inevitable tragedy of Christ’s passion will unfold just as the possibilities of miracles surrounding Frank become all too real. Bayou Jesus is the winner of the Oklahoma Writers competition for best mainstream novel, a Deep South Writers prize from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and an Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award. You can find M.G. Miller on Twitter or at his website and blog.
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