The Fourth Awakening series just got an exciting little brother. Authors Rod Pennington and Jeffery A. Martin have launched The Fourth Awakening Chronicles, a series of novellas based on the characters and concepts explored in the full-length novel The Fourth Awakening. The story picks up where the second novel in The Fourth Awakening series, The Gathering Darkness, leaves off. Each novella features a person who has arrived at the fourth awakening.
The Fourth Awakening has been the Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller in “New Age > Mysticism” in the US for three years and in the UK for two years. Rod Pennington, author of 11 novels, graciously granted me an interview.
What we wanted to do with the Chronicles series is introduce some Enlightened Archetypes. There seemed to be some misconception that all enlightened souls wear Birkenstocks, eat organic granola and hum Kumbaya all day. Nothing could be further from the truth. By using short fiction, the reader can focus on a single enlightened person and we’ll attempt to explain how they arrived at that point and what it means.
Will the novellas eventually become a novel?
While each Chronicle will focus on an archetype and the story will be complete and free-standing, it will be part of a bigger story. I plan to do the first six Chronicles and then have them published in an anthology. This would be roughly the equivalent of a 100,000 word novel. The best way to describe what we’re reaching for would be the old “Fugitive” TV series. Dr. Kimball will have a new adventure with each episode but will never stop searching for the one-armed man. The over-story is as quickly as Penelope can find enlightened people to interview, they mysteriously disappear. Who is doing this and why will be a huge element of the plot.
What will you accomplish by changing to this format?
In first book in the series, The Fourth Awakening [read this site’s review], we gave an overview of the current science and a brief history lesson about the three previous Awakenings. This book has been wildly popular and has been the #1 Kindle Bestseller in “New Age Mysticism” in the US for over 3 straight years and 2 years in the UK. The Gathering Darkness has also been a #1 Bestseller but because of the content hasn’t had the popularity of the first book. It is basically a road map that anyone can follow to become enlightened. But because it requires hard work and makes it clear all of your personal demons must be confronted and dealt with, many who are looking for “instant Karma” just don’t get it. Or don’t want to.
By using the “Chronicle” format, we will be able to show the wide range of enlightened people who are walking amongst us. There is no cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all answer. There are people who spend a lifetime in prayer and meditation who never get there. While there are people who have never been to a yoga class or even church in decades who step off a curb in Milwaukee and before their foot reaches the pavement are fully enlightened. There is also a sub-group of enlightened people who have no idea they are enlightened. Some attain enlightenment and lose it. Others attain enlightenment and reject it.
What we want to do is show how real flesh-and-blood people deal with enlightenment. We’re going to kick over some rocks and shine lights in some dark places people try to never look. For example, Chronicle II will feature a man who after becoming enlightened walks out on his wife and family, then point out that is exactly what the Buddha did as well. We want to make the bigger point that the path to enlightenment is not all lollipops and rainbows. To get there, something things must be rejected and often the things you hold the most dear may be exactly what is holding you back.
What do you think has kept you on Amazon’s Bestsellers lists for so long?
The Fourth Awakening was written with classic Joseph Campbell “myth” pacing. It was intended to be a timeless story where you have the reluctant hero, Penelope, who meets the wise old man, Michael Walker, and they set out on an epic adventure. These kinds of stories resonate on a primal level. Other examples of this writing style would be “Star Wars” or the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It is the kind of story that could have been told around a campfire 10,000 years ago. Interestingly, the people who get it, really get it and those who don’t, don’t. There is very little middle ground in the reviews.
The hardest part about writing this novel was I made the conscious decision to not have any violence, no foul language and no gratuitous sex. Since nearly every thriller or suspense story opens with a body on the sidewalk, it was exceedingly difficult to maintain tension and drive the storyline. Fortunately, because violence has become such a part of modern fiction, I was able use the expectation of violence to build the tension to keep the plot moving.
What draws you to metaphysical fiction?
I’ve been drawn to [spiritual/metaphysical fiction] because I see so much harm fakes and charlatans are doing to vulnerable people. Most of the “self-help” material on the market is utter claptrap that may work on a rare occasion but more often than not will do more harm than good. When I see a group of smooth talkers getting rich feeding off the souls of people desperate for a lifeline who will believe anything, it makes my blood boil.
Most people way over-think all of this. Everything you need to know to lead a life of abundance is right in front of you if you will simply calm your mind. Release the negatives in your life, forget about them and move on.
Rod Pennington has published 11 novels, one novella, and two screenplays. In addition to The Fourth Awakening series he recently launched a new dark comedy series about a dysfunctional family of four of the world’s best assassins working as the enforcement arm for a shadowy Zen cabal that has been around for thousands of years: A Family Reunion (The First Three Charon Family Adventures).