Friday, May 29, 2015

Heaven's on Fire / Guest Post by Roland Yeomans


Sage Covered Hills – Author Interview


Today Roland Yeomans is taking over my blog with a deep guest post about writing, pain, and life that’ll get you thinking. Take it away, Roland!


The bronze mists swirled about my table at Meilori’s like veiled bereaved women going to prayers.

I looked at my blank laptop screen and asked myself the most important question a writer can ask: What do I have to say?

Writers write best when the answer to that is “Something Important” (at least to themselves so that the fire is there at the tips of their fingers and within their hearts.)

To be important, what we write must not only be true to the human spirit, it must also not go over old ground.

How many times can you re-use the same tea bag before the brew you conjure is tepid and tasteless?

What we write must be relevant to the world in which our readers live.  Yet, America has become the Evening Land. 

September 11th.  Ferguson.  Baltimore.  Isis.  A Maryland mother pushing her dead son on a swing all night.  People go on their daily concerns as if the shadows were not deepening.
It is not getting lighter; our eyes have just adjusted to the darkness.

I jerked in surprise as the ghost of William Faulkner sat beside me.

“As I stood behind you, Roland, I couldn’t help but read what you were writing.”

He sighed, “Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained that by now we can almost bear it. Of course there are still problems of the spirit. Yet one question looms above all: when will life end for me?  And how will it happen … by terrorist plot, by Nature’s increasingly hostile hand, by the cruel strangulation of mishandled economics, or by my neighbor’s hate.”

The ghost of Mark Twain sat down on the other side of me.  “A beast does not know he is a beast, son. And the closer a man grows to becoming a beast, the less he realizes it.”

Faulkner nodded, “Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing, because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat of wresting something from nothing.”

He tapped the screen of my laptop. “You must learn them again. You must teach yourself that the basest of all things is to be afraid. And teaching yourself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in your writing for anything but the old truths of the heart ….”

Faulkner’s voice trailed off and then picked back up, “ …the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until you do so, you labor under a curse.”

Mark said, “You write not of love but of lust, of defeats in which no one loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. Your griefs grieve on no universa
l bones, leaving no scars. You write not of the heart but of the sex glands.”

Title: Death in the House of Life
Author: Roland Yeomans
Genre: Egyptian Mystery / Paranormal
Length: 245 pages


The poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, sat down opposite me and pointed to my laptop screen.

The blank page is the dragon that faces all authors. But like St. George, we have sought that dragon of our own volition.  Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

He smiled sadly, “I know our novels are like that: they are helpless to shape or birth themselves.  We must do it for them. And they are born of those seeds which are the books we have read.”

Faulkner nodded, “Authors read because we want to be with those who know secret things or else to be alone with our thoughts.”

Mark gruffed, “I’m just a common pilgrim, Bill.  So tell me, what are those secret things?”

Rilke sighed, “Answers to every soul’s basic questions:

Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don't know what work these conditions are doing inside you?

Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going?”

Mark Twain blew a cloud of cigar smoke.  “Poet, you got a handle on those questions, but I didn’t hear any answer.”

Rilke smiled even sadder.  “We must each decide for ourselves those answers.  But my answer to myself is:

‘You know that you are in the midst of transitions and as a child you wished for nothing so much as to change, to grow, to mature.

If there is anything unhealthy in my life, I must bear in mind that a fever is simply the means by which an organism frees itself from that which is harmful.

So I must simply ride the crest of that fever until it breaks since that is the way both the soul and body gets better.

Do not assume that any who seek to comfort me live untroubled among simple and quiet words, for such words were born in pain.

Their lives may also have had such sadness and difficulty that it is far beyond mine. Were it otherwise, they would never have been able to find the words to give me healing.’”

Mark nodded his head in agreement. “The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things and yet still rise to try again with greater discernment.’”

William Faulkner murmured, “My own answer was:

‘Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart ... live in the question, in the uncertain moment.  That is the human condition … and realizing that fact will make you a better, more perceptive writer.’”

Rilke turned to the ghost of Mark Twain, asking, “And what would your answer be, Mr. Clemens?”

He waggled an eyebrow at me.  “Welcome the blank page, son, full of things that have never been, for the only worthwhile journey is the one within.”

All three turned their eyes to me in silent request for my own answer.  What would you have said in my place?



Roland Yeomans was born in Detroit, Michigan.  But his last memories of that city are hub-caps and kneecaps since, at the age of seven, he followed the free food when his parents moved to Lafayette, Louisiana.  The hitch-hiking after their speeding car from state to state was a real adventure.  Once in Louisiana, Roland learned strange new ways of pronouncing David and Richard when they were last names.  And it was not a pleasant sight when he pronounced Comeaux for the first time.

He has a Bachelor’s degree in English Education and a Master’s degree in Psychology.  He has been a teacher, counselor, book store owner, and even a pirate since he once worked at a tax preparation firm.

So far he has written thirty-three books.  You can find Roland at his web page:  or at his private table in Meilori’s.  The web page is safer to visit.  But if you insist on visiting Meilori’s, bring a friend who runs slower than you.

Thank you, Roland, for giving us a wonderfully insightful post.

Please leave a comment for Roland!

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