Tree of Lives by Elizabeth Garden
Based on true events, Tree of Lives is a riveting two-track story of a horrific public murder in 1930 that became a long buried family secret. The lost ghost of the murderer, Raymond, roams the earth until his abused great niece, Ruth, a promising artist, confronts her deeply troubled family. It is a story of unfolding forgiveness, survival and triumph over unaddressed trauma as this determined woman navigates her thorny life path. Illustrated.
Targeted Age Group:: all audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I always knew there was something wrong with my family. Had to be. So when I discovered a close relative was a mass murderer, I wasn’t at all surprised.
Although I'm from a seemingly “normal” upper middle-class family, my father's explosive rage and chauvanistic ethos set the stage for emotional neglect and constant bullying at the hands of my two older brothers which eventually devolved into abuse. Discouraged from attending any activities that required my parents’ involvement, I channeled my appreciation of nature and my self-invented ideas of spirituality into artwork. I spent most of my time in my room where it was safe. It turns out my artwork and rich imagination was the one thing that protected me.
I studied painting at the Boston Museum School until my parents cut me off. Eventually I found refuge with friends in the rock and roll world until that also came to an abrupt end with bad choice after bad choice. Without much in the way of support, except from one loving grandmother, I knew the challenging trajectory of my life was planted with landmines from the start and I struggled to find a professional and personal footing. But in 1985 I experienced a life-changing event in the form of a hypnosis where I directly accessed her own inner guidance and reached enough clarity to steer myself in a better direction. I eventually built a successful career as a publication designer and illustrator, eventually becoming an award-winning art director for several high profile magazines.
When I was in my thirties, I completed a correspondence course to become a certified psychic medium. Immediately afterwards, a terrible family secret, a tragedy of epic proportions, was revealed by sheer coincidence. To me, it was a story that that begged to be written and its relevance to my own unusual life began to emerge.
I am a survivor in many, many ways. I believe in human and spiritual potential and our ability to affect change by accessing our own inner guidance. When people I meet ask me about my life, they often say “Wow – sounds like a book,” even when I just mention one or two scenes from it. It seems certain things have been put in my path as if they were being shown to me, perhaps so I could tell you about them.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
This is a two-track story based on true events. One track includes the real names of actual people who were thrust into the headlines in 1930. The second track is based on my own story although the names of the characters have been changed and a few parts are imagined. My aim is to show certain characters as the embodiment of archetypes we may have the bad luck to encounter.
A New Man
Raymond Spang stood up to get his bearings. At his feet lay his own twisted corpse on the ground. Revolted,
he turned away from his mangled bloodied self. And as he did, something scurried away from it, fast as lightning. It looked like a shadow but it moved so quickly it was hard to tell what it was exactly as it disappeared in the distance.
At least he finally had an explanation for his situation. He was a killer. An insane killer. Obviously he was mentally ill. After all, he had a damaged brain and had been committed to an insane asylum before he escaped.
But now he had no physical brain at all. And no damaged limbic system, no over-expressing amygdala, no out
of whack chemistry from a funky thyroid gland. All that remained was his observing self. He felt like the same person who had been watching the progression of his life all along, ever since he first realized he was alive. But it became clouded and abstract by his schizophrenia. The big difference, as he was about to find out, was that he no longer had any ability to effect anything, anywhere, anymore.
He knew he had demolished everyone and everything, including himself. Yet here he was, still existing. That
meant his family must be somewhere also. He knew that he needed to make amends. Somehow. If only he could find them. But where? How?
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