Q & A with Jacquelyn E. Lane on The Children of Gaia
Q 1 There’s an underpinning of ecological science in The Children of Gaia. Are you a scientist?
No, I have a university degree but it’s not in the physical sciences. My brother is an ecologist so he gave me scientific papers and often put me in touch with other experts I could talk to. Other people came into my life with special knowledge and skills just when I needed them. Creating The Children of Gaia was quite a learning curve all round, with the research on forests and the traveling that involved, plus learning how to write a novel, communicate with deva and become an illustrator!
Q2 That’s a big job! How long did it take you and where did you travel to learn about the forests?
I dragged my husband and sons off to Costa Rica to look at cloud forest, rainforest and dry forest, where we slept with snakes rustling in the dry leaves beside us. I photographed tarantulas and deadly snakes up close. My Mother couldn’t believe it when I told her, reminding me that when I was a young girl I’d squeal about a dead fly! (My husband quipped that I just needed a porter for the camera gear. ) On another trip I traveled alone to Sweden, Norway, Finland, and joined a group of Swedish Foresters on a tour of West Germany and Eastern Europe to look at the devastating effects of acid pollution, an experience that sometimes left these hardy men in tears. Of course my family and I also visited some special forests in New Zealand. The research, writing and illustrating took me nine years with another year of script polishing later.
Q 3 What inspired such a big undertaking?
Well it was an extraordinary ‘road to Damascus’ experience. When a retired Marine Biologist suggested I write about the deva kingdom and ecology, my crown chakra tore open and the light that streamed in almost blinded me for three days. I knew it was about forests and that the figures tumbling in that light were deva. It was a compulsion that was impossible to ignore.
Q4 The story feels very real rather than a fantasy. Is that because it’s all based on your own experience?
One reader got quite upset when I described it as a ‘fantasy’. “It’s not a fantasy,” she declared, “it’s real.” It is real in that apart from some references to Africa, I experienced the forests even though their size and locations in the story may, in some instances, be ‘mythical’. The deva material is also based pretty much on my own experiences though of course these had to be shaped as needed to make an exciting, readable story that both inspires and teaches us about forces we don’t normally see.
Q5 What do you mean by ‘deva’ and did you communicate with them to write The Children of Gaia?
Deva are also called the Angelic Kingdom. It’s a Sanskrit word pronounced (day-vah) meaning ‘Being of Light’.Essentially deva are the intelligence within all levels of substance, at all levels of density, seen and unseen. Deva include the nature spirits and the higher organising deva that govern ecological systems, land areas etc.. As I worked on the book my abilities developed naturally. A clairvoyant friend had grown up in a family where seeing the nature spirits was considered normal so she became a kind of mentor and reassurance in that regard.
Q6 Why did you illustrate The Children of Gaia even though it’s not a children’s book?
I wanted to give people as complete an experience of trees and forests as I could. It often comes as a shock to me that many people never get to experience a real forest, especially one that hasn’t been planted by humans. I love drawing or painting plants so it was often a challenge but never a chore. Actually it never occurred to me not to illustrate the story and I was blissfully ignorant of the extra publishing hurdles illustrations would bring.
Q7 Do you do workshops about these extraordinary things you’ve learned and experienced?
I’ve run a number of different kinds of workshops during my life. I love sharing knowledge and helping people tap into the great inner resources that are available to them. Currently I run a workshop to help people raise their game artistically. I also run day-long workshops on the intelligent spirituality contained in This World of Echoes trilogy and another on the Deva Kingdom. My methods combine visual aids with story telling along with the ‘knowledge talk’.
Q8 Do you have any other books ready to publish?
I have just completed a non-fiction on the deva kingdom. That’s been a long journey but it feels so good to have pulled so many threads of this fascinating subject together. I have put the Deva Kingdom into a wider context for people because deva is not just about elves and fairies or even just about nature. It’s the intelligent response in every level and density of substance in all areas of life that we experience. That means we are using deva all the time and ‘creating’ them through our particularly human activities. It also means our evolution and theirs is intertwined. My team of Beta Readers have given very positive feedback so now it’s time to seek a publisher.
I also have some chapter books for children at various stages of completion that I’d like to get back to someday. There’s also a good deal of art I still want to do.
Q9 Where do you live?
After many years of traveling and living overseas my husband and I have settled back in our homeland, New Zealand. I love the land of New Zealand—there are ancient virgin forests full of deva life, lakes and sky-piercing mountains, wild rocky coasts, sandy beaches, steam-belching thermal regions and high plateau of glinting tussock—all within a few days drive of wherever you are in the country.
I love other parts of our beautiful planet too—the red lands of Australia, the white sands of Egypt and Tunisia, the woods and hills of Scotland, the forests of many lands, the rocks and beaches and endless changing skies. I cannot think of them without feeling totally mystified that we are so careless of such extraordinary gifts.