While my personal biography does not enter into the storyline of True East, my philosophies, however, do, and here I depart from Conrad. Joseph Conrad believed that the colonizing nations had turned Africans into savages, while a hundred years later True East explores what would happen if that contact had never occurred. Here fiction supplants fact, but it creates a dynamic that drives the story. The continuing sorrow of the Native-American genocide is undoubtedly a theme True East explores, and it does so with Andrew’s photographs rather than with troublesome facts. The author’s view on Big Oil is obvious, but more veiled are the complexities of priests verses shamans, prayer verses action, and organized religions verses tribal beliefs. Andrew and Tadi are guides to a new way of thinking, one that combines western empathy with tribal ritual.
No author can detach themselves from their experiences. As an author must be true to his characters, a novel must be true to its author. “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes pronounced, a bold modification of God’s proclamation to Moses, “I am, that I am.” Both God and Descartes believed that consciousness separates us from the abyss. In writing True East I cannot separate myself from my experiences. All writing is existential. I am who I am and it is that “I am” who wrote the book.
Someone once told me I expect a lot from my reader. Pondering that question, I agreed before answering: “But in the end novels are just stories.” There may be levels of thought woven into the fabric of True East, but if my novel fails to tell a story, it fails as a novel. True East tells the story of a woman who must find her bearings after her world collapses. It is Katy’s journey into self-awareness. In Drive I say, “Consciousness is simply the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves.” Katy must change her story if she is to heal—it is that simple.