Neil Johnstone’s soul is heading for eternal torture in Hell when he dies thanks to some dark magic in his employment contract.
For the past twenty years he has worked as an office administrator in Bleak & Fargon, a demonic multinational company that hunts and traps people, and their souls, by signing them up to their sole product called Peace. Peace renders the unlucky recipient practically invisible to the world, wholly insignificant, and forgotten by anyone who ever knew them.
Neil hates his job. His employers make him a tempting offer, a way out of his misery. Either he remains trapped in Peace or he can be freed provided he does the unimaginable and swaps his place in Hell with his own mother.
He’s thinking about it. Neil has some serious mother issues, but can he really do what it takes to save his own damned soul?
He seems to think so.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The core idea of the book was influenced by a few factors. In the 1980s there was a speculative TV show called The Twilight Zone. As a teenager I was inspired by the memorable, creative and extreme what-if scenarios. I didn't think back then about writing my own speculative fiction story, that didn't happen until I began this novel a few years ago and discovered that The Twilight Zone's influence had stood the test of time.
For years I worked in various administrative roles in several companies and was saddened at times observing how mindless negative behaviours or actions would conveniently be jotted off to 'just business'. Trapped in Peace at its core is a good vs evil story based in a multinational company and my work experience lended credibility to the setting, and the 'just-business' cop-out attitude, well, that stuck to my psyche just like the Zone. Lastly, the overarching influence and continuing guiding light for this project was a spiritual element, specifically the theme of forgiveness, one that on my own personal spiritual path I have found both intriguing and, admittedly, at times a struggle to apply on a practical level. I've read plenty of non-fiction on the subject but wanted to explore through fiction just how damaging it can be to hold on to anger, fear, resentment and unforgiveness.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Most characters were created by a snippet of observation of people, combining one's facial feature, or clothes and another's gesture, or out of office interest, add a dollop of creativity and hey-ho a character comes to life.
The main character, Neil Johnstone, proved perplexing to create and flesh-out as the protagonist. The problem with him is that he has ugly characteristics; he's bitter, and goes through life with one helluva chip on his shoulder. He's at times, vile, angry, lost, hurt, vengeful. He was difficult to root for. But yet he intrigued me the more he came to life on the pages. I fluctuated at times in thinking what a horrible person, he's getting his just deserts in life and rightly so, to then feeling pity for him and rooting for him to turn things around. He experiences the extreme what-if; what if I was trapped in a demonic multi-national company fighting for my soul to be free and not be heading on a one-way trip to Hell for eternity. What-if I was offered a way out?
Although, in spiritual terms, Neil is best described as a lower-vibrational character, consequently that potentially meant for a richer journey story, and as a writer that was too irresistible not to explore.
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