The genesis of Prospero’s Staff sprang from four events. The initial spark occurred while I was watching a steampunk version of The Tempest held at a small outdoor venue in Portland, Oregon. My daughter, her friend Cody, and I were seated on the grass perimeter surrounding a small plaza which made for an intimate setting. During the scene when Prospero renounces his magic and breaks his staff over his knee, the sound and proximity to the act made it come alive for me. I was suddenly struck with the thought that burying it meant that at some level, the staff still existed – it wasn’t completely destroyed by Prospero.
The smoke from wildfires in the Northwest was everywhere that summer, and while I was piecing together the basics for the story, it seemed only natural to have the smoke become a central feature of the book – its presence meant visual isolation, and in extreme cases, indoor confinement, a reasonable proxy for being shipwrecked on a deserted island.
It was while the book was still in its infancy that I listened to a news article on NPR about a woman who had undergone treatment for her epilepsy with very interesting consequences (The Roots of Consciousness: We’re of two minds – https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/15/532920899/the-roots-of-consciousness-were-of-two-minds.) As is a common procedure in severe cases of epilepsy, the doctors had preformed an operation to sever her corpus callosum – the dense bundle of nerves that allows communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Normally, the procedure cures the illness with little to no noticeable impact on the patient. In this woman’s case, however, the surgery had an unexpected side effect. Her left hand took on a life of its own in something termed ‘alien hand syndrome’. As an example, her hand would slap her if she did something that it thought wasn’t socially or morally correct.
And, I traveled overland to India in the early ‘70s and that seemed like a good background source for the experiences recorded by Martin Ropers in Faint Trails.
From these four sprang the story, and I hope you enjoy/enjoyed reading it.