by Dana Taylor
Bestselling author, Amy Harmon, has turned into one of my favorite wordsmiths. I discovered her when her time-travel tale to 1921 Ireland, What the Wind Knows, was offered as an Amazon first read. Harmon focused on a historical era I knew little about. She wove real-life political figures of the day with fanciful time travel elements of a young woman caught between two decades.
I decided to go back to the beginning of her books to explore the world of Amy Harmon. Her earliest works follow “write-what-you-know” sage advice. Amy Harmon is a “girl from Utah” and her first heroines are girls from Utah. The stories fall into the romance genre, but even her earliest stories show signs of greater writing skill and imagination than most genre writers. Amy expresses love, loss, angst, and hope in broad verbal brush strokes.
Mystical elements appear in many of her works. Her 2012 book, Slow Dance in Purgatory, is a high school romance, but the hero is a ghost…well, sort of. With The Law of Moses in 2014, Harmon’s books leap a level in mysticism and maturity. Moses is a troubled teen who sees dead people. They torture him with messages which he translates into haunting paintings. The love story with small town girl, Georgia, is intense and takes many turns before they find their happy ending. Moses must master his mediumship capabilities and use them wisely. Dealing with grief is a strong under current of the book.
Harmon followed the story lines of several other small town characters in more books, Making Faces, A Different Kind of Blue, Running Barefoot, to name a few. Then she switched gears into a full fantasy shape-shifter adventure with The Bird and the Sword two book series. Heroine Lark, is a forbidden Gifted one dwelling in a mythical kingdom. She can call things into being, but is forced into silence. Mental telepathy comes into play when the hero (who happens to be a handsome king) hears her thoughts. He uses her Gift to save the kingdom from terrible predators as their love story grows. Harmon spreads her writing wings in a fairy tale setting worthy of any Disney movie.
She returned to historical fiction in one of her most popular books, Sand and Ash, listed as a “religious romance.” Set in Italy during World War II, the story revolves around a Jewish woman hiding from the Gestapo with the aid of her childhood friend, now a Catholic priest. Personally, I’ve been-there-done-that with World War II stories. Leon Uris (Exodus) and Herman Wouk (Winds of War, War and Remembrance) and a slew of vintage films back in the day set the era indelibly in my mind. I have yet to read this one. Still, I’m sure it’s another great Harmon yarn.
This week I finished her latest tale, The First Girl Child. Somewhere along the line, Harmon developed a fascination with Norse mythology. From her fertile imagination, Harmon conjures a society of Viking clans and the priests who understand the power of Runes. Mysticism abounds as Harmon expands the romantic formula of boy-meets-girl into a rich tapestry of court intrigue, prophetic priests, a false princess, and a reluctant hero of superhuman strength.
Harmon’s superhuman strength is her ability to plumb the human range of emotions. She wrestles with issues of integrity, loyalty, betrayal, devotion, and love, all wrapped in adventure and drama. Looking for a good book? Try one from Amy Harmon.
A recollection from Dana Taylor
On this Easter Sunday, I recall a trans-formative moment. As I grew up, Jesus had always been a historical figure or God image. At certain points, I thought he was more myth than man. Then around 1984, as a young wife and mother, I began searching for spiritual significance. The Christ message of love and forgiveness struck a deep chord. Yet, I wanted something beyond the teachings of a man long dead. Had He actually transcended death? Was He still present in another dimension as the Bible implied? One night I had a “dream.” Kneeling beside my bed, this strong man with riveting eyes reached out and held my hands. Waves of love emanated so strongly, I lay immobile, trying to concentrate on what he was telling me. I could see his lips moving, but the overpowering energy coming through his hands obliterated my comprehension. As he released my hands, I thought–“Don’t go.” As he disappeared, I clearly heard, “I am with you always.”
It was a moment nobody can ever take away from me. I had felt the living Christ enveloping me in His peace and Love. Years later when I saw this “Prince of Peace” portrait by 8-year-old Akiane Kramarik, I recognized the man in my dream. I hope that at some subconscious level, I remember what he said that night. But, it hardly matters. The foundation of my spiritual life was set that night. The journey continues.
As another Easter weekend rolls by, I know beyond the egg hunts and chocolate bunnies, Christ’s love still reaches out to seekers offering forgiveness, peace, and joy.
He is risen…He is risen indeed.
book review by Dana Taylor
Visionary fiction is on the rise–books that blend storytelling with elements of spirituality, not bound by the box of a particular religion. Though established faiths may be presented in these works, the authors are not restricted by dogmas. Creativity flows. These authors are finding their way. Writing of esoteric matters is tricky. It can become preachy, incomprehensible, weird or just plain boring. Incorporating it into a piece of fiction requires a crafty writer who understands how to weave the visionary into a plot line that keeps moving along.
The Anesthesia Game by Rea Nolan Martin successfully blends storytelling, character development, and visionary elements. Each chapter is told from a point of view of one of the main four characters, Sydney, Mitsy, Hannah, or Pandora. Teenage Sydney is the center of the story, gravely ill, but refusing to give into The Taker. Her mother, Mitsy, is becoming a living ghost, overwhelmed by her daughter’s illness. Her narcissistic Aunt Hannah is shamed into coming to help take care of the pair of them. Overseeing all this human angst, is the psychic, Pandora, Mitsy’s phone mentor.
Each character is focused, in their way, on Sydney overcoming her illness. In the process, they must face their personal foibles. The visionary elements begin a slow simmer through Pandora’s character. As the pace of the story picks up, so grows the heat of the multidimensional aspects. Reincarnation, astral projection, dreams, auras, the battle of light vs. darkness. Martin does an excellent job of weaving it all together in the midst of contemporary characters.
By using the various points of view, we get into the heads of all the main characters and come to care about all of them. There are enough twists to keep turning the page to see what happens next until the big climatic ending.
If you’re tired of the same old genres and rehashed plot lines, give visionary fiction a chance. As more of us live beyond 3-D realities, visionary writing will find a wider audience. The Anesthesia Game by Rea Nolan Martin is an excellent place to start your visionary fiction experience.
Available as ebook and paperback at Amazon