How far can you genetically alter someone before she becomes someone else? Before she loses her soul?
Leading genetic researcher Randolph Macklin wakes up in Malaysia to find a four month gap in his memory, his wife dead, and his daughter in a coma. As he and his psychiatrist Sanantha Mauwad unravel the mystery, they find nothing and no one are what they appear to be. Ancient cults collide with cutting edge science in this tale of too much power driven by too much passion.
Interview with Sanantha Mauwad
JH: Hello and welcome to the program. I’m Jay Hartlove and I will be your host today. I have here in the studio a guest I am truly excited could make it here to chat with us about her adventures in the Isis Rising Trilogy. The first two books in the series are out, The Chosen and Daughter Cell. The third book, Isis Rising, is expected in 2015. Let’s give a warm welcome to Dr. Sanantha Mauwad.
SM: Thank you, Jay.
JH: Dr. Mauwad, you are the detective who solves the mysteries in these books. Did you ever want to be a detective?
SM: No. (laughs) Dear Lord, no. I’m a psychiatrist. I’m trained to solve mysteries of the mind. It’s just that in these two cases, my patients were tangled up in evil plots that had to be unraveled. I fell into the role of detective. I recall joking with one patient about how I wanted to remain his doctor in spite of all the detective work I was doing.
JH: Was that Dr. Randolph Macklin, in Daughter Cell?
SM: Is that the name you gave him in the book?
JH: Yes. For our listeners, when I chronicled Dr. Mauwad’s adventures, I changed the names of her patients and other principles to maintain her doctor’s confidentiality. I must say doctor, I was always taken by how lucky your patients were to have taken you as their counselor. You have an approach that integrates scientific psychological practice with a spiritual context. Given the supernatural troubles they had, they needed spiritual help too. Can you describe that more for us?
SM: Surely. Each of us is one connected person. We have different experiences and influences that shape how we see ourselves fitting into the world around us. When something shakes our place in the world, or our worldview, we need to consider the intellectual, the physical, and the spiritual damage. I’m glad you consider my patients lucky to have me. I’m not always so sure. When things don’t turn out well, I’m left wondering if I could have done more.
JH: Are you referring to Charles Redmond, in The Chosen?
SM: Yes. (sighs) I will always wonder if I did right by him. I did all that I could. What can you do when someone has decided they are not worthy of redemption? You save them anyway you can. Legba help me, I worked with the demon Joseph to drive Sammael out of poor Charles. And in the end, Charles seemed happy with the result. He saved the religion of Voodoo from Silas’ plans to convert it, and he saved it for the people of Haiti that Charles felt he had wronged.
JH: That sounds like redemption to me.
SM: It is. I was just sorry he died in the process.
JH: We should watch the spoilers. Not all of our listeners have read the books yet.
SM: Oh, sorry.
JH: Now, you took a much more hands-on approach with Dr. Macklin’s case in Daughter Cell. How did that work?
SM: Well, I got in on the ground floor of that mystery. Silas Alverado had been moving into position to achieve his goal all his life. Charles stumbled onto the plot nearly at its completion. Now in Dr. Macklin’s case, the evil plot against him had been brewing for several months, but I was brought in right after he recovered consciousness. So I was able to help him figure out what was going on and help keep him stable throughout.
JH: I have heard some comment that you may have taken too strong a hand in that case, that you took control of the investigation and pushed Dr. Macklin into some key decisions. Your boyfriend Dr. Simon Carrera, who is also a psychiatrist, asked you about that at the end of the case. What do you say to those comments?
SM: I admit, I did push. When matters turned continuously from bad to worse, I became worried that I was going to lose control again, like I had with Charles. I was determined to get a better result this time. So yes, I may have stepped over my professional boundaries. I will still defend the result. Desiree deserved to be saved, even if it meant having her father’s psychiatrist step in and push for morality. Sometimes you get a little burned doing the right thing. You try to learn from tough decisions like that.
JH: Do you feel you learned from that episode?
SM: Yes, I did. Holding my tongue was very valuable with the Irish situation.
JH: Sorry to cut you off there, doctor. The Irish situation you mentioned is in the third book, Isis Rising, which has not been released yet.
SM: Oh, I see. More potential spoilers. That’s right, the story in The Chosen took place in 2001, right at the millennium change. Then the story in Daughter Cell was in 2005. The episode in Ireland was in 2009. Wouldn’t your readers have noticed these things in the news?
JH: Actually, what news coverage these events did get just got drowned out by all the other news in the world. The bomb blasts in Khartoum and Miami in The Chosen were just like many others. In Daughter Cell, the car crash in Kuala Lumpur certainly didn’t raise any suspicions. Nor did Dr. Macklin’s weird drug reactions, however public they may have been. News is a vast river of stories. Details don’t get noticed. Now, I want to put a little twist on our first topic. How do you think your integrated approach to therapy changes the old religion versus science question?
SM: Growing up in Haiti, where every decision is guided by religious beliefs, I never saw why science can’t live side by side with religion. I did not have to stop believing in Voodoo when I went to Chicago and learned to be a scientist. The people who insist science and religion are incompatible have an agenda that precludes the one they don’t like. The folks who say evolution goes against what the Bible says have an anti-science bias. Their religious views require the denial of certain facts that science has given us. Similarly, the folks who say you can’t have prayer in public schools are afraid of religious zealots, because if you give an inch, they will take a mile. If you accept that religion is part of how humans cope with the world, and accept that science is going to discover things that writers of ancient texts could not have known, then the conflict evaporates.
JH: You have had your share of encounters with religious zealots, yes?
SM: That’s an understatement. I keep running into these madmen who justify their greed and evil with their religious beliefs. I only found out the extent of Silas’ mayhem in Africa after you shared your research with me when you wrote it up for The Chosen. I also didn’t know about that poor priest in Seoul until you showed me your research for Daughter Cell. It seems there is no depth of depravity, no limit to the evil men will go to once they feel they are supported by God.
JH: That support is hard to argue with when angels and demons show up as proof of divine interest in their plots. How do you deal with the appearance of objectively supernatural creatures and demonstrations of unearthly powers?
SM: Poorly, I am sorry to say. I did not want to believe Charles was doing business with an actual demon in Washington DC. I had a hard time believing that chi energy could be used as a weapon like I saw in Malaysia. Those are the kind of magical beings and powers that aren’t supposed to exist in our world. At some point I had to accept their existence in order to deal with the dangers they brought.
JH: If I may be allowed to comment in an interview, I am impressed with your courage and your levelheadedness in some of the harrowing situations you have encountered.
SM: Why, thank you, Jay. Looking back, I can see what you mean. Facing down a poisonous snake with a sponge mop is actually pretty easy compared with figuring out how to save someone who is slipping away right before your eyes from a cloning virus.
JH: Personally, I feel safer in this crazy world of ours knowing there are brave souls like you out there dealing with the cutting edge craziness and stopping the madmen who threaten the rest of us. I want to thank you very much for coming today to talk about these adventures. You and I have talked many times in private about how to best tell these stories.
SM: I’m glad you invited me to share directly with the readers. It felt good to talk about this with an open microphone.
JH: You and I will be talking again soon about the facts in Isis Rising, which I am working on now. Until then, have a pleasant trip home, and keep up the good fight.
SM: Thank you. And I will.
Jay Hartlove has been writing professionally for over 30 years, starting in the gaming industry with Supergame in 1980. He writes banking compliance procedures by day, he blogs about spirituality, and he teaches seminars on the craft of writing. Two of his short supernatural stories have appeared in the Hugo Award winning Drink Tank. He has posted the research he did for The Chosen at www.jaywrites.com. Like The Isis Rising Trilogy on Facebook.