Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Wisdom of the Toga": An Interview with Author Monica Davis

We are not the first to ponder the mysteries of the universe and hope to find its key. What we are now "discovering" may have been known thousands of years ago. "Wisdom of the Toga" is both entertaining and thought-provoking as it delves into the realm of interpretive mythology, storytelling, science, and pop culture to uncover a common thread woven through time...mythic patterns that shape our lives. Laying out a pathway from ancient humankind's struggle for survival to our fascination with space exploration, the reader is guided on a captivating journey along a metaphorical stream of time and space to reveal that "long ago and far away" the course was set to determine the part each of us will play in humankind's unfolding story; for as long as the Fates allow. The story you tell can alter lives and change the course of history.

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An Interview with Monica Davis
Tell us a little about yourself...
I've lived in so may places that friends and family write down my address in pencil, knowing it might soon be erased and written over by another, and then another. Such is the adventure of life. Experiencing first hand the nuances of cultural variations has taken me along a winding path . One which now crosses with you on your own path, together on this blog.

Did you plan to be a writer...
Writing is not something I set out to do as a profession. It sought me out, lurked in the shadows, and followed me around until I succumbed to its lure. I seemed to always be the one asked to write the latest “whatever”, from marketing blurbs and news articles to computer manuals and business plans. Once upon a time I wrote material for college level cost accounting text books. I used stories as examples; creating practical scenarios with characters named after friends, family, co-workers. Stories are terrific teaching tools because a well told tale sticks in memory more readily than dry boring facts.

The majority of my writing is in the non-fiction genre, but I write with the spirit of a storyteller and use much of my material in lectures and seminars. Through a local university I taught a popular community education course on the subject of storytelling in ancient cultures. From that material I developed my current book, Wisdom of the Toga: Mythic Patterns That Shape Our Lives.

What kind of research was involved for Wisdom of the Toga?
This was quite a lengthy and involved process over several years. For the core I pulled and compared translations of ancient documents, read and re-read the ancient classics (Homer, Ovid, Aristotle, Plato) and the more modern classics (H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, The Brothers Grimm), and revisited the Bill Moyers/Joseph Campbell “Power of Myth” series.

What draws you to a book.
When I'm deciding on a book to read or purchase I  browse though the “look inside”  feature or download a sample. I want the writing to draw me in, to know that the author is a true storyteller. I want to witness (and taste) some of the magic that mesmerizes and conjures images in my mind. A well-crated, engaging story is key, regardless of the topic.

What were your favorite books as a child..
One book from my school library, which I read while in third grade, left a lifelong impression on me.  That book is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. “It was a dark and stormy night.”, she begins the tale, and I was drawn in from that very moment. A few years ago I saw a copy of her book at a local bookstore and bought a copy. I'm not sure if I was buying the story or the fond memory it holds...perhaps a little of both.

How do you unwind after a long writing session?
During the writing stage I am intensely focused, absorbed in each and every moment, agonizing over the 'best' words to convey my message. Once I break from this I like to get outside in the fresh air and take a walk, or go to the gym and  physically release the tension.

What is the best piece of writing advice you've received?
Just keep writing!

Laptop, desktop or notebook, and pen/pencil for writing?
Great question!  Depends on what I'm writing. Blue ink on paper for notes (later notes added in red ink) The desktop PC in my office provides a 'serious' place where the foundation is laid out. I move around with my laptop for a change of pace and draw creative inspiration from my surroundings. My final “go through” is always (read aloud) from a print version.

Describe your book.
“Extraordinary ideas travel the currents of time like actors in search of their next great role.”  This is my favorite line from the book. One that came crashing down around me with a “BOOM!”. We tend to think we're more advanced than our ancestors, but perhaps “advanced” is merely seeing the same things interpreted through the perspective of our modern ideals. These are the notions I set out to explore and put forth for you to ponder...mythic patterns that shape our lives.

“Story is the age-old method of teaching and recording history, which holds the key to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Story is who, and why, we are. Without it, we do not exist.”

I developed the website to accompany the book, including a companion guide with pictures and an interactive facebook page for readers to share thoughts and opinions. (I'm also hoping to get the Twitter account “tweeting” on a regular basis.) On the website you 'll find chapter excerpts from the book as well as bonus articles on a variety of topics to enjoy. Readers are free to email me with comments. Articles on the website have been used by teachers (just email a request via the contact form for permission.)

Meet the Author
Monica Davis began her writing career in the world of academia. A cross country move prompted her to enter the corporate sector where she spent many years as a business executive. Always up for a good challenge, her adventurous spirit led her to take on an extensive research project; delving into ancient cultures and fantastic tales. She used some of that material to develop a course called "Wisdom in Story", which ultimately became the basis for the "Wisdom of the Toga" book. 

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