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My guest today is Raymond Aherns, author of True East, who is kindly sharing his writing space and routine with us. Please give him a warm welcome:

The 39 steps I hike each morning to my third-floor den, are the same number of steps found in Hitchcock’s 1935 spy thriller. Similar to the lead character in Hitchcock’s movie, these 39 steps transform me from an ordinary person to someone whose genre of Mythic-realism adheres to the scientific truism: anything possible is probable. I might not write about British espionage, but my latest novel, True East, weaves a suspenseful tale of Indigenous migration, the limits of American exceptionalism, and a fortuneteller whose cards challenge the basic tenets of science. One’s life is rarely a thriller, but one’s story can be.

Although there are quirks and goblins that inhabit my writing space, my den is relatively benign and centers my creativity by providing a shelter from the distractions the world hurls at me. Hikes in the White Mountains are stimulating and can tweak a story, yet the Yeoman’s work of a novel is done in my room, sitting in front of a computer surrounded by my art. These old buddies battle the monsters that ravage my brain with doubts, while fostering the inspiration needed to create a book. There’s an African bronze of three riders on horseback next to an Arts and Craft dish of a naked woman protected by an owl, above which a photograph hangs of a monument cloistered deep in the woods of Gettysburg: a reminder of the horrors of war and that my unfinished novel Requiem in Granite still needs a proper ending. There are more, many more: a faded wedding picture of my wife, an antique butter stamp found in D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, a reproduction of a Dürer woodblock entitled, “Knight, Death, and the Devil,” and a lithograph of Native American warriors standing around a bonfire, whose sorrow haunts each page of True East. Stare at art long enough and it will motivate—stare at it longer and a story will appear.

I write on a desk crafted by a cabinetmaker friend of mine and have a spectacular view of a 19th century farmhouse, over which an immense Gingko tree hovers. This tree is rumored to have been brought back as a seedling by a whaling captain from China over 150 years ago and its mystical powers are not lost on me or my writing. The Gingko leaf was a symbol of nature’s primacy during the Arts and Craft period and has been found in fossils over 250 million years old; and my lure to foliage in Requiem in Granite can be linked to this tree. Years ago its leaves magically turned yellow overnight and started to drop. I woke my daughter and together we danced and laughed beneath the tempest of falling leaves till the mightily tree was bare.

My house was built in 1897 and as I climb past the quartered-oak paneling, the Richardson window seat, the stained glass bowed with age, and my eclectic art, my mind expands. Call it Pavlovian, but by the time I reach the third floor I am ready to write, although it might be an aversion to heading back down all those stairs. Either way it’s my space, carved out by master carpenters some 125 years ago.

My writing routine is simple: I wake early, around 6 AM, and while sipping a caffeinated cup of tea, I edit what I wrote the day before. Since my first draft is barely legible, this usually takes a few hours, but it keeps me in touch with the “yesterdays” of my story. Does my den help? Could I write in a different setting? Is the silence that envelopes me something akin to reverence?

Much of English law can be traced to, “A man’s home is his castle.” Ignoring the obvious misogyny of the quote, I would alter it slightly to, “A writer’s den is a fortress from which their creativity blooms.” As for goblins, every house this old has them—you just have to know where to look—and the 39 steps; it’s probably just a coincidence or possibly the ending to my next novel.

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About True East

Katy Givens, thirty and brilliant, learns in a static-filled phone call that her husband Andrew is missing in the Amazon and possibly dead. Although still mourning the death of their infant son, Katy flies to Brazil in search of Andrew, discovering that the man she married has secrets. As the mysteries surrounding Andrew’s disappearance mount, so does the list of shadowy forces benefiting from the recent discovery of oil in the Amazon.

Katy’s field of genetic anthropology proves useful when accounts of the Unnamed Ones, a primitive and possibly pre-human tribe, are rumored to exist in the same valley as the oil reserves. Katy tracks Andrew through the jungle, deciphering riddles he left before disappearing. Along the way, she barters with a Jewish coin merchant, challenges chance with a fortune teller, and argues the merits of prayer with a Jesuit priest, before placing her faith with the indigenous Tadi.

Check out True East on Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author

Raymond Ahrens is curious. As a scientist, father, and novelist, he peers under the surface to discover what contradictions lie beneath. His genre of “mythic-realism” synthesizes both the rational and the mythic to arrive at a different way of seeing. His first novel, Drive, explores an old man’s perspective in both a real and imagined world filled with mysteries, myths, and memories. He lives in Newton, MA, and Del Ray Beach, FL.

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Giveaway

The publicist is kindly offering 3 copies of True East to my readers. This giveaway is open only to readers with U.S. addresses. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, August 13, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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