TONIA’S SHINING WORLD AND THE “SCARLET SAILS”

In my book “Ghost Love” there is an element of the supernatural: my heroine Tonia has a special place deep in the recesses of her imagination where she retreats to at the moments of extreme happiness or distress. This is her ‘Shining World’ and it’s where she interacts with the spirit world and sometimes has psychic experiences.

ELena Blavatskaya (Helena Blavatsky)

There is a strong belief in the supernatural present in all Russians. You’ve only to remember the impact Helena Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society had at the end of the nineteenth century to realise that. Indeed the Society’s motto, “There is no Religion higher than Truth” is one all of us − scientists included – should mark. Sometimes I wonder in this oh-so-scientific age if scientists would do well to remember there might – just might – be forces and powers in the universe which transcend the rational and the measurable … that there are forces in Nature beyond our perception and the comprehension of science.

My own belief (shared by Tonia) is that science does not have a monopoly on providing answers to the important questions of human existence. There are remarkable events which are prima facie inexplicable by the use of any generally recognized scientific hypothesis. So I leave it to the reader to decide whether they buy into Tonia’s Shining World or think her slightly strange.

ImageThe idea for Tonia’s Shining world has its roots has in my childhood years. When I was very young I watched a Soviet film called “Scarlet Sails” which was the screen adaptation of a novel of the same title by Alexander Green – sometimes translated as Alexander Grin – this the pen-name of Russian writer Aleksandr Stepanovitch Grinevskii. Green was a neo-romantic writer and poet of the beginning of the 20th century. “Scarlet Sails” is a beautiful story about a young girl, an orphan, who believes that one day the man she will marry will come to her seaside town in a boat with scarlet sails … a dream which, after many trials and adventures, came true. Like many girls of my generation I fell in love with the story though it still baffles me how this film was allowed to be made in the Soviet Union. It was pure romantic fantasy written in the 1920s and the Communist Party weren’t great fans of romantic fantasy. As far as I remember, there was nothing ‘revolutionary’ about the story apart from the fact that the young girl was a pauper (played by a talented and beautiful Anastasia Vertinskaya).

I loved Green’s work and there was a lot to read. Apparently, Green had 400 works published before his death in 1932. As you might imagiImagene, it must have been unbelievably difficult for a writer of his genre to work during the years of the Russian revolution, the Civil War and the persecutions that followed. There was criticism from the officials, conflicts with publishers, cutting out of scenes from his novels. How times change: the picture shows how Green was honoured by the issuing of a stamp in 2005.

One of Green’s novellas was entitled “The Dazzling World” ‒ a neo-fantasy story, with a lot of symbolic meaning and a bold imagining of characters and events (take into account the time when it was written – 1921 – just after the post-revolution Civil War). This book, and especially the title, stuck in my memory and many years later provided the inspiration for the “Shining World” that exists in my heroine’s head, the world where everything is good, calm and beautiful. I wanted to have this “feel good” factor in my book, so that after reading it you think, something wonderful is going to happen today, I just feel it!

One other thing. When I first began writing “Ghost Love” I’d intended my lead male character ‒ Peter Monroe ‒ to be called Peter Grey, just like Grey, the lead male character in “Scarlet Sails”. You can appreciate how long “Ghost Love” was marinating in my imagination that when Fifty Shades of Grey was published I realized that I had to do some rapid re-naming (I feel heart-broken even now!).

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