Friday, January 4, 2013

DREAMS OF ELI by Van Heerling

Review by Sass Cadeaux
dreams of eli cover
This review may contain spoilers. 

A soldier of the Union confines a Southern soldier, named Eli West. Eli wakes in a cave, and discovers a sinister and twisted enemy holds him captive.

During his imprisonment, Eli teeters in and out of consciousness. Each time he awakes, he is drugged and tortured. In little time, he learns he has been shot, his teeth have been ripped from his mouth and for the life of him, Eli cannot understand his menaces desire to constantly dig into his leg and big toe.
Unconsciousness seems to be his only solace, in which he relives a time when he was in love, a life before war, and fond memories of a time when life was worth living.

Certain, his life would end by the hands of his enemy. Eli wakes in a stupor of pain and heartache. He absorbs the loss of his teeth, his freedom and sadly, his will to fight.

After days of torture, Eli recognizes his capture. The man Eli thought was a sadistic and twisted soul was actually his old friend, Ezra, and although they were enemies of war, Eli still felt that old bond. He’d think back to the earlier years, when Ezra was a close childhood friend, and many times, Eli considered Ezra a brother.

Ezra explains how he shot Eli, and when he realized whom he had shot, he dragged him into a cave and tried his best to help save his life.

Throughout it all, Eli longed for the darkness. In his unconscious state, he was happy and able to embrace his one true love.

Nearly three weeks had passed, and in that time, Eli’s body became a second warzone. Ezra tried to help Eli battle the infections. It was a long successful battle, but not without a casualty. Eli had lost his leg. He no longer felt he was a worthy man and heart’s desire was impossible to embrace during his waken state. Eli admits the only beauty in his world lies within his unconscious, and wishes to never wake.

Once strong enough to travel, Eli’s friend offers to take him home. It is during their travels they meet some interesting characters, and venture through rough terrain. This adventure helps mend their friendship and trust. Eli asks Ezra to help him fulfill his one true desire, to reunite him with his love.
This is civil war tale with some interesting characters. :)

In the end, I found this emotional adventure filled me with many questions. So much so that I’ve asked Van if I could have the opportunity to interview him. Throughout our emails, we learned quite a bit about each other, and I can honestly say it is a small world!

We share the same love of literature, and although we live in different countries, we share the same circle of friends.

The answers provided have not been altered and are direct quotes from author Van Heerling.
Van Heerling 
Hi Van, thank you for accepting my invitation. It is a pleasure to meet and interview you. Dreams of Eli began in Northern Mississippi in the year of 1863. I must ask, what motivated you to write your book in that era?
The way this story unfolded, it became apparent to me that there couldn’t be any other setting. 

What genre do you consider this book?
Historical Fiction

Are any of the experiences in this book based on someone you know or events that have influenced your own life?
No, this is pure fiction and maybe a little divine intervention.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
For this story and any other I write, it’s the story itself that inspires me. My test as to whether the story will be written or not is if it “burns hot” and sticks in my mind for days, weeks or months.
I have a pretty muse too. This helps.
The muse has tapped my shoulder and my ear is turned toward her lips. I am waiting for her whisper. ~vh~”

What were the challenges such as research, literary and psychological in bringing Dreams of Eli to life?
I spent many hours researching different types of weaponry and read through several original love letters and correspondence to get the feel and overall atmosphere of the time period. The 19th century is by far my favorite time period. There is something about its rough and raw nature. It’s odd that I say this, because I seldom camp or “rough it.” 

Dreams of Eli, reminds me of many tragic civil war stories based on brother verses brother situations. In your opinion, what makes this story stand out?
I believe that the first person narrative is something that makes this story stand out. It’s not necessarily that all by itself but also the tone of the main character. He is pensive in nature and is beyond flawed. I have been told by readers that this story in particular really made them think about their own lives and figure out what is important to them.

In my status on Facebook, I asked my friends what questions they would ask an author. Below are their responses.  From aspiring writer Sylvia Stein— How do you relate to your characters?
I’m not sure quite how to answer this question. For me my characters live inside me. Or perhaps I live in them.

From author Michaelene McElroy— Do you have any rituals before sitting down to write?
I always find this question interesting. But even more so I love hearing what authors have to say. I am sure there are writers that have to line up all their pencils just so, or take five deep breaths, spin around in their chair one full rotation and then touch the keys, or clear off their entire desk before plunging into four hours of intense storytelling. My answer is not an interesting one I’m afraid. I don’t have a ritual. I am not superstitious to any degree. Yes, I know that takes the “fun” out of everything, doesn’t it? I’ll go one further; I don’t get writer’s block. Never have, never will. See I told you I’m not superstitious. Oh, I can hear the gasps of horror as my fellow writers read this, “He’s just jinxed himself!” Hardly.

From author Dean Sault— Conflict drives tension and tension drives plot. When adding tension to your stories, how far will you go? Will you kill a likable character or child for the sake of expanding emotional impact? Is there a limit to the emotional swings you impose on readers? Do you get 'hate mail' over such events in your stories?
Hi Dean, interesting question. The short answer to your question is, yes but not on purpose. And yes to the hate mail. My stories are character driven not plot driven. I seem to have a knack for it. Not everyone is thrilled with my work of course but I seemed to have found a wonderful readership that genuinely enjoys curling up with my books. 

From beta reader and review blogger Cat Alley— I recall refusing a second read after the death of a loved character, which brings me to a question. Have you ever tried or thought of killing the main character half way through the book? Which consequently, gives the twist that a sub character would actually be the main character?
Hi Cat, love the name and the furry little ones. Personally I have never killed the main character in the middle of a story. I supposed it would be possible but for the life of me can’t figure why one would pursue such a storyline. Well unless one has multiple time streams and the main character is picked up in a different dimension. Not really my thing, but I suppose it could work.

Thank you, Van for stopping by. I wish you much success with Dreams of Eli and your future release’.
Thank you Sass!