Merry Freer is eager to tell you something about her book - and you can also win a $20 Amazon or BN gift card via rafflecopter (code underneath):
The novel she's written is Special Levels of Earthly Hell. The main character is Drew Collins, who experiences the world in black and white. As an educated man of science, he rejects belief in the paranormal and the existence of demons. Until an evil energy he calls 'the Beast' repeatedly enters his bedroom and takes possession of his wife's body.... What he witnesses at night in his own bedroom, he cannot reconcile with science. And yet he sees it with his own eyes, feels it presence - ominous and evil - with his entire being. Against every instinct, Drew reaches out for help. It is not just his marriage on stake. The evil force has invaded his wife's family, tearing them apart and culminating in bloodshed and murder. Drew must face a stark choice: sacrifice his belief that the world is a rational place and fight an entity he doesn't understand and is unable to label, or abandon his wife and her family.
As the author herself says: Sadly, the most frightening and brutal events in this book are factual. The story is loosely based on one family's experience with multiple tragedies, some of them "ripped from the headlines." It is also an excruciatingly factual account of one man's experience with a loved one who is possessed by a demonic presence. However, it transcends genre and is as much a tale of romance, of cultural barriers, of abuse, and of family drama, as it is of demonic possession.The link between the introduction of an evil spirit and the heartbreaking misfortunes that are visited on the family is left for the reader to decide.
Drew sat up straight and turned to her. He needed to see her eyes, her reaction to his experience. Almost imperceptibly he shook his head and took a deep breath. Then, surprising even himself, he poured out his story of the frightening drama unfolding in his home. He described the visions, the fear, and his most ridiculously implausible visitor. It came in the night, he told her, on multiple occasions, and appeared to possess Adriana. He described how it spoke through her, threatened him, threatened their marriage and the children.
“The presence has become a part of my life,” he said, “an unwelcome visitor in my own bedroom at night. I don’t know what to call it. I understand that in Judeo-Christian belief it might be thought of as a demon, a devil sent to defy their God. But I’m not a believer, so how do I name it? How do I label something I don’t understand? I can’t give it a name that identifies it as a specific entity to Christians. I’m not a Christian. I don’t believe in God and so I don’t believe in the devil or demons. I had an experience. That’s how I identify it. And I honestly don’t know what to do about it. I get that it’s not a battle of strength. It’s a battle of wills. But I don’t understand its intention – what it will take to make it go away.”
The author also likes to share her views on what's the difference between reality and fiction.
It’s a blurry line when it comes to a book about demonic possession. The main character in my latest book, “Special Levels of Earthly Hell,” is a real person. He is also an atheist, yet he claims to have witnessed the phenomenon. He’s a pretty trustworthy guy too, not known for exaggeration or practical jokes. Besides, I saw the look in his eyes and heard the catch in his voice when I interviewed him. He saw something.
As an author, writing about actual events and real characters has both an upside and a downside. The upside is that the story and characters have already been developed. It then becomes the author’s job to tell the story in an interesting manner and to do it justice. The downside is that the story and characters have already been developed. Wait. Didn’t I just list that as a plus? Yep. Characters and story lines that are not fictional are more rigid and the writer has an obligation not to stray too far from reality. There’s not a lot of wiggle-room for tweaking events or embellishing.
This is where the interesting little disclaimers of “based on” and “inspired by” come to save the day for the author. “Based on” requires the author to stick as close to the truth as possible, changing only that which enhances the reading or movie-watching experience for the viewer/reader. Time might be compressed, locations might be changed, and dialogue is manufactured while still being kept true to the story. “Inspired by” tips the truth scale for the author and what began as a true story can find characters added and deleted, facts stretched for greater entertainment, or events added to fill gaps in the author’s knowledge of the original story. Some “inspired by” stories stray more than others, depending on the author’s intention to make the story more interesting or the requirement to clarify the unknown.
I have written two fact-based books (one a memoir in the true crime genre and the other an “inspired by actual events” paranormal story). “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” was inspired by actual events. I felt compelled to use this disclaimer because there are a couple of years in the factual story that are unaccounted for by my sources and the story would not be coherent without an explanation. Also, I was unable to interview a few of the characters and used the point of view or conjecture provided by other characters. I felt a degree of frustration in feeling compelled to use the “inspired by” disclaimer because the meaty part of the story, the dark and creepy, gruesome and frightening parts were expressed to me by the character who experienced them as very real. Other events are supported by court documents. But, in my personal opinion, the portions that were invented for the sake of writing a story with a cohesive timeline or embellished due to lack of knowledge of the actual event, required the use of the “inspired by” disclaimer.
I invite any of the readers of “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” to inquire by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) about which parts of the story were “inspired” and which were expressed by my sources as absolute truth. I’m guessing readers will be surprised.
And while I’m on this subject, there is a great deal of frustration on the part of the author when a reviewer gives a poor review because he/she doesn’t think a character in a primarily nonfiction story handled a situation properly, or acted and reacted in ways that don’t make sense to the reader. It’s a real story, folks! Authors can’t make a real character in a true story do something they didn’t do because it makes more sense to the reader. The characters’ poor decisions or the crazy situations in which they find themselves are what made it an interesting story in the first place. Just something thing to think about the next time you read a story that is “based on” or “inspired by” the truth.
Author bio and links:
Merry Freer is an author of memoir and fact-based fiction. “Special Levels of Earthly Hell: The Story of One Family’s Chilling Struggle with Demonic Possession” was inspired by actual events that were experienced by her nuclear and extended families, tearing relationships apart and making national news headlines. This book comes on the heels of her first book, a memoir named “Doctor, Doctor.” While "Doctor, Doctor" is her debut novel, she has been a writer and editor for many years, including work with the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Hall of Champions. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and has been a featured speaker for classes dealing with medical ethics.
Her controversial memoir, "Doctor, Doctor," topped the Best Seller List in True Crime/White Collar Crime for 10 months and received a "Best Books of 2014" award from "Suspense Magazine."
Visit her Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/mfreerauthor