My maternal grandmother talked to dead people.
As a small child I considered this completely normal and I didn’t question it. In fact, I remember being somewhat surprised at the realisation that most of my primary school friends, and their concerned parents, considered this rather strange.
I wasn’t blessed with my grandmother’s unconventional gift but the possibility that there was more in store for us than one often difficult, painful or lonely life on planet Earth, was the catalyst for my search for meaning and culminated, many decades later, in my novel.
The pressure to achieve academically and financially, in order to blend into an increasingly materialistic world, shifted my focus for many years. My conversations, as a Corporate Trainer, were largely with male, pale and stale business leaders, fixated on increasing revenue, reducing expenditure and winning at all cost.
Many paid a high price for financial success with life changing physical and mental health problems as well as irreparable damage to their relationships. As I witnessed more and more victims of a faithless and avaricious world, I couldn’t help feeling that we weren’t listening to the Universe and the message it was sending us.
My fascination for all things spiritual, and the inherent belief that the demise of our vulnerable and flawed bodies is not the end of us as beings, has never left me. My introduction to past-life regression, as part of my Diploma in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy in 2007, re-ignited my childhood curiosity to address the taboo; Death and what happens when we die and was the driving force behind my book.
My writing, up until 2020, had been limited to self-development articles, academic papers and my first non-fiction book, Wired for Sales. They have been helpful in the part I have played to make fat corporate cats even fatter but did not present me with the platform I needed to address the issues I feel are truly important.
One More Lifetime exposes many men’s reluctance to acknowledge an inability to cope with the challenges that life throws at us. The emotional and physical journey, which the leading character experiences, enabled me to introduce some controversial but critical issues we face in the 21st century, including mental health, discrimination and global, historical events and practices which, whist not being acceptable or excusable, still exist in our world.
Above all, I wanted to present a book of hope for anyone experiencing or facing the loss of a loved one and the unbearable pain associated with bereavement. As I have grown older, the memories of my unorthodox upbringing and my grandmother’s stories of the visitors she chose simply to refer to as ‘spirit’, have reinforced my belief that we are not victims of our lives and are, in fact, in control of the blueprints we have created for ourselves in order to develop as spiritual beings before returning ‘home’.
I have always considered myself a rebel and tried to buck the trend. I married a biker at 52, passed my test at 53 and have clocked up over 21,000 miles across the USA, UK and main land Europe. My husband’s solo motorbike trip from Alaska to Argentina was my inspiration for Marcus Crane’s life-changing, therapeutic journey to recovery. The challenges, places and inspirational people he meets along the way were all based on real experiences.
I am unafraid to challenge convention or opinion, even when supported by the majority, if I feel it is outdated or unjust. In writing my novel, I want to encourage people to do the same and consider the possibility that this life isn’t all there is for us.
Having completed my novel in August 2020, I was faced with a dilemma: How do I get people to read it? My experience of publishing, publishers and taking a book to market was limited and with every out of work celebrity, journalist and musician having used the UK’s unprecedented national lockdown to write a book, I felt my chances of securing a publishing deal were probably slim, at best.
Having trawled through the lasted version of the Writers and Artists handbook and taken guidance from numerous online articles, I decided my best chances of securing a publishing deal as a new, unknow writer was to attempt to enlist the support of a literary agent.
I worked hard. I read about the preferred genres, subjects and authors of each of the numerous agents to whom I submitted my manuscript, cover letter and spoiler-filled synopses and felt optimistic as I personalised each submission – and waited.
I had been surprised that a statement, no doubt in an attempt to manage the expectations of naïve, new authors like me, was present on many of the submission pages:
“We receive a large number of submissions and are unable to provide individual feedback to authors. If you have not heard from us in three months, please accept this as an indication that your manuscript has not been accepted.”
For an individual who had built her career in environments where feedback, fast response to requests and customer service were paramount, I was both disappointed and frustrated.
Perhaps it really was true – you have to be famous or infamous to get a publishing deal.
Patience has never been one of my virtues. I understand different industries have cultures and processes which serve them well but I couldn’t help wondering how many ‘hidden gems’ go undiscovered and how much talent unrecognised, due to an unenticing covering letter or an agent’s unmanageable workload.
Having heard nothing after only a week from any of the 25 agents I had contacted, I decided to self-publish. I did briefly consider my dismay, should a lucrative, global publishing and television deal have been offered if I had only demonstrated a little more restraint. Unsurprisingly, that offer never came.
My book is now available to those for whom it is intended; the fascinated, the lost and those open to the possibility that life really does go on – and on.
(c) Sue Gibbons
About Marcus Crane: One More Lifetime:
What happens when we die?
Is there a heaven and hell or is this one life on Earth all there is?
What if there was a third option?
Following the sudden, devastating loss of Ava, his life partner, Marcus Crane is unable to see a future. Before her untimely death, Ava had embarked upon a path of spiritual discovery, having uncovered conclusive proof that she had lived through another lifetime. A confirmed atheist, Marcus finds Ava’s increasingly compelling evidence impossible to accept.
Grieving and with no purpose in his life, Marcus embarks upon a physical, spiritual and emotional journey which leads him to a shattering conclusion and a life changing decision.
This compelling and emotional story of hope may make you question everything you believed to be true about life, death and beyond.
Order your copy online here.