I am delighted to offer an interview with friend and author Germaine Shames. She has written two novels, Between Two Deserts (order at Amazon.com) and You, Fascinating You (order at Amazon.com), two earlier nonfiction books, a musical stage play, and three feature screenplays. Most recently, Germaine has published the novel Hotel Noir (order at Amazon.com) under the pseudonym Casper Silk, and is nearing completion of a fourth.
A former foreign correspondent and contributor to Hemispheres, More, and National Geographic Traveler, she has lived and worked in such diverse locations as the Australian outback, Swiss Alps, interior of Bulgaria, coast of Colombia, Fiji Islands, and Gaza Strip.
AS: How does your subconscious manifest itself in your artistic endeavors?
GS: I consider the subconscious mind creativity’s playground, where images and other, often hard-to-verbalize, flashes of insight continually nourish my imagination and suggest new avenues of inquiry.
Having been certified as a Clinical Hypnotherapist some years ago, I use simple techniques to relax into a light trance state as I prepare to write. By quieting my conscious mind I find that I am better able to “become” my characters and to allow them to speak though me. Relaxation also enhances access to evocative metaphors and details.
Many authors—Norman Mailer, for one—have written of feeling something larger than themselves come through their writing, as if their gift for language were merely a conduit. In that sense, the subconscious mind might be viewed as a gateway to a vast pool of wisdom or universal voice that each writer, in some small way, makes his or her own.
AS: Your observation about Mailer seems to hint at Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious, a sort of area of the mind that has certain elements built-in from birth– a kind of instinct featuring archetypes. Do you differentiate between the subconscious and the unconscious, and if so, how do you feel that each of these facets inform your writing?
GS: Although I have read a bit of Jung and worked for a few months with a Jungian dream analyst, I have only a layman’s understanding of his body of work.
The concept of a collective unconscious does resonate to some extent with my inner experience, but I can’t say for certain where my inspiration comes from or whose otherworldly voice I occasionally hear whispering in my ear. I can only listen and receive the gift. Mailer’s comments on the subject suggest that he felt humbled by this phenomenon, as do I.
The Jungian concept of the anima and animus has taken on increased significance for me in recent years, as my novel writing has bifurcated with the newer branch evidencing a surprising masculinity. Indeed, the contrast between my novels with female protagonists and those with male protagonists finally became so marked that I felt a need, both for commercial and personal reasons, to assume the male pseudonym Casper Silk. Jung might have called Casper a primordial archetype. I only know that by allowing my imagination and craft its fullest expression, the writing benefits.
AS: Has a subconscious prompting ever surprised or unnerved you? If so, how did you respond?
GS: In the case of Hotel Noir, I came to the keyboard without a defined plot and began to tinker. The first pages were light, playful. Suddenly, without warning, I found myself writing about a congregation setting themselves ablaze and dancing as they burn. The shift was terrifying and yet I willed myself to let go and follow wherever this strange turn might lead.
A decade later, I watched a BBC documentary about the Doomsday Cult that had recently swept through Africa and learned that a congregation in Ghana, fearing they had displeased God, did indeed lock themselves in their church and strike the fatal match. I don’t claim to understand the connection, but I suspect that writers, as well as others who listen to the still, small voice, do occasionally tune-in to these dark undercurrents.
Happily, most subconscious promptings are more enriching than unnerving, and the writing that stems from them has a compelling quality readers pick up on and appreciate.
About the Author: http://germainewrites.com
Casper Silk Unmasks! http://palefirepress.com/?p=603
Hotel NoirTrailer: http://youtu.be/mt_O4BzVVtA