Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Interview with Dudley Mecum, author of A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom


Inside the Book:

Sojourn pic

Title: A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom 
Author: Dudley Mecum 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Visionary and Metaphysical 
Format: Ebook

Chris Cole enjoys aiming for the stars. After he rockets into orbit aboard the space shuttle, his mission is cut short when he is the victim of an accident aboard the International Space Station. Whisked back to earth for medical observation, Chris is eventually released. Before his return flight to Kennedy Space Center the next day, Chris decides to attend a nearby medieval fair with an acquaintance—a decision that will change the course of his life forever. Shortly after the astronaut's arrival at the festival, the king unexpectedly selects Chris to be a contestant in a tournament. As Chris's quest to become a knight begins, he learns how to wield a sword, battle foes, and achieve greatness. Unfortunately, villainy, treachery, and a crucible await him. As enemies emerge from the shadows, others use him as a pawn to settle old scores. Guided by a cast of colorful characters who dispense timeless advice, Chris is overcome with self-doubt as he ponders whether it is really possible to change his destiny. In this gripping fantasy tale, wisdom of the world's greatest philosophers and modern sages is brought to life as one man attempts to escape from a prison of his own making.
A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom is available for order at

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I tried to improve upon the suggested title, “A Journey of Self-Discovery through the Wisdom of the Ages.” Unfortunately, that title would put most people to sleep. Coming up with a new title of my book took me many weeks because it’s summing up my narrative in the fewest words. I have James Cameron to thank for introducing me to his movie, Avatar, because that word wasn’t in my vocabulary. Fortunately, I was familiar with the term sojourn. When I used both words, I had the bulk of the title of my book.

What is your writing environment like?

During the workweek, when possible, I wrote an hour before work, during lunch, and an hour after work. On the weekends, I tried to devote one day to writing. Perhaps like most writers, I try to isolate myself from the outside world.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers?

I can only speak for myself. To help me write my book, I kept a list of favorite words. I remember a Los Angeles Times review of the 1979 movie The Fog. The article used the word frisson in its review. In junior high, I read Word Wealth by Ward Miller. Another source of words came from reading Lord of the Rings. In addition to a favorite word list, I copied a list of sentences that really appealed to me. It has reached eighty pages. Together, my word and sentence compendiums helped me as a writer.

What inspires you to write?

My book is a gift to my younger self. You see, I experienced a lot of setbacks when I was young, perhaps more setbacks than most people endure. A seventeen-year stretch of stuttering as a young adult preceded a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease, which causes constant headaches. That tag team prevented me from experiencing much success in life. When the stars didn’t align to provide me salvation from my current state of affairs, I endeavored in a new adventure, one that required a great deal of patience. Fifteen years passed until my idea became reality. When I turned to quote books for inspiration, the wisdom revealed was compiled author or by subject, which is very dry and lacks context. So, I felt the need to find a more cohesive, yet entertaining medium in which to impart the wisdom of the ages that gives hope for those who have endured a lot of adversity in their lives, perhaps more misfortune than their fair share. The best approach was to weave the non-fictional elements of wisdom into a fictional narrative. My book became a Rubik’s Cube of sorts because certain scenes called for specific wisdom and vice versa. In addition, I had to figure out who would impart what wisdom and in what order. The end result called for a colorful cast of characters and a multitude of scenes in which solicited advice would be given. Complementing the adventure and wisdom, I included the traditional literary devices such as symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing. Finally, my book is an homage to Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, a mid-19th century art movement. The story depicts three out of four scenes from his Voyage of Life series of paintings. In essence, my book would convey not my wisdom, but the counsel of the world’s greatest sages, allowing my younger self to avoid common mistakes and achieve a greater success in life. Similarly, I’m hopeful that most readers will find my narrative entertaining and its underlying wisdom compelling.

Did you learn anything while writing this book?

I found that I needed to trust my instincts. I looked at quote books for inspiration and found their cataloging of quotes by author or by subject too dry. It’s as if each quote were a star in the sky. Even the notable quotes that I was drawn to, by themselves, really didn’t amount to much because there was no connective tissue. Only by writing a narrative, which not only provides context for each quote, but also related the quotes to each other, did I succeed in my quest. As a result, the “constellations of wisdom” are evident. Trusting my instincts proved to be the best thing I learned when writing my book.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My father said I had a lot of perseverance to write a book that took me fifteen years to complete. My original plan was to complete my book in three to five years. I was discouraged at the three-year mark because the book proved to be a lot harder to write than I thought it would be. Fortunately, I completed that Rubik’s Cube of a narrative!

Meet the Author:

  Dudley Mecum, a trained commercial pilot, earned an MBA in Finance, later working at a defense manufacturer. He currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas, where he enjoys fine art, swimming, and virtual flying.

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