This novel has been with me on a long journey.
In 2013, my life changed forever. It was new years eve day, and when I woke, I had no balance, motor control and I couldn’t walk. I was afraid and worried about what was causing the issues with my body. Over the next few months, it became worse. I would lay there in the darkness of my bedroom, unsure of how I was going to continue or how I would overcome something that I could not see. I would lose the ability to type, to walk and to speak coherently.
To distract myself from the turmoil within me, I would let myself be taken away by the seed of an idea, a story about someone who would wake in an unknown world and having to find their way along the path, no matter what obstacles stood in front of them. They would find a way to go on and move forward.
I was diagnosed with relapse and remitting multiple sclerosis in 2014. In a sense, that diagnosis was a gift. I now had a name for the unseen enemy, even if it was inside of myself. I worked on learning to walk again with a cane, type again one word at a time and to speak. I felt like I was waging war against my own body. To distract myself, I took a variety of different workshops including reiki, manifestation and tarot.
I had a love affair with the Tarot several years before and finding the cards once again was like a revelation. In learning the cards once more, I was reminded of my idea that I had in 2013 about that person that woke in an unknown world. I thought it would be a neat idea to tell the story of the Fools Journey from the Major Arcana but in a novel. The only problem was that I had no idea how I would go about telling that story. There were twenty-two cards in the Major Arcana. It seemed too big, and I wasn’t sure that I could tell it.
Then two things happened. I began having a dream about a woman on a plane. She was drawing Tarot cards. The kept drawing the same card over and over again, no matter how many times she shuffled the cards: The Queen of Swords. I thought that was a really cool dream and tried to reflect on what was trying to tell me, but that was it.
It wasn’t until June 2019 that the seeds that had been planted were given the spark they needed. I was watching the news and there was a story about a woman named Tiffani Adams. She had fallen asleep on a plane while travelling from Quebec to Toronto and when she awoke, she was still on the plane and buckled into her seat. Looking around her, she realized that the plane was in the airplane hanger, and everything was dark. She had no idea where she was at first and no idea where anyone else on the plane was.
The idea for this novel fell into my head at that moment and it was like my mind was full of light. I thought of the story I had wanted to tell way back in 2013, the idea I’d had in 2014 and the dream I had about the woman on the plane reading her Tarot cards. I finally knew the story I wanted to tell about the Fools Journey. I knew that it would be set in a dystopian world and that mirrored our own and it would follow a woman along on a perilous journey as she came to know how strong she was and what it really meant to be brave. I asked my friend Jackie if she would mind being the main character and I started writing the novel that night.
As I wrote, I realized that I was going on my own journey with Jackie. It wasn’t lost on me that I was writing about my own journey with multiple sclerosis and the terrain that my body had become. I loved the parallels between Jackie’s journey and my own and I thought it added something to the novel. I wanted the Fools Journey to be my take on the cards and I knew that each chapter would focus on one card in the Major Arcana. It seemed the way that made the most sense. I put so much of myself into every book I write, and it was no different for this book. Then in March of 2020, everything changed again.
That was when the pandemic hit, and the world had to deal with the Covid virus. I almost stopped writing the novel at that point. I didn’t feel like writing a novel about a virus that has wiped out the world when a very real one was doing the same thing around me. I put it aside for a week or two and tried to work on something else, but Jackie called out to me. She wanted to find out how her journey would end, and I couldn’t help wondering the same thing.
It was my Wonder Mom that got me writing Queen of Swords again. During one of our conversations, she asked about the book, and I told her that I had stopped writing it and why. She took a breath before she spoke. “I don’t know, Wonder Son. I’d say that you’ve been given a pretty rare opportunity. Not many people get to write about a catastrophe while actually living one. Imagine how much the Covid pandemic will influence your novel.”
I took that advice and ran with it. The whole novel feels somewhat claustrophobic and there is an unseen threat in the book. I wanted to convey what it was like for me in lockdown, worried about a virus that could kill me, and it’s my hope that this influenced the urgency of Queen of Swords.
The whole novel took me almost five years and multiple drafts to finish. It’s been with me for ten years from seed to publication and I know that this novel was my journey as much as it was Jackie’s. It feels surreal that my little seed of an idea that appeared shining in my head way back in 2013 is finally seeing the light of day.
I’ve learned a lot after years of studying and working with tarot cards, however the one lesson I learn again and again is that life, like the tarot, is a cycle. It’s what we learn along the way that shapes what will happen on the next cycle. I’m thrilled that this novel represents the end of a cycle for me and also a new beginning.
I can’t wait to see what will come next.
Queen of Swords is being published on March 21st and it’s already available for pre-order at some places. I’ll start posting the links as I have them.