A Conversation with Dennis Batchelder
Author of Soul Identity: a novel

(as posted on bookpleasures.com)

Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Dennis Batchelder author of Soul Identity: a novel.

dennis batchelderGood day Dennis and thanks for participating in our interview.

Norm:

Can you tell our readers how and what motivated you to concoct this far fetched story about a wacko company that could identify and track your soul?

Dennis:

I’ve felt for years that the fundamentalist-religion approach we Americans take is dangerous—by focusing more on proofs and less on what it all means, we unintentionally limit our spiritual growth. I wanted to tell a story that exposes this problem, but struggled to find a way to get the point across.

Then six years ago my uncle explained his current spending spree by declaring, “Coffins don’t have pockets.” That got me wondering if we’d act any differently if they did. I thought about what kind of organization would capitalize on those pockets: would it be a church, or a business, or both?

I put these two ideas together, and ended up with Soul Identity: an organization that tries to balance business against spirituality. As you see in the book, it seems difficult to maintain that balance.

Norm:

What do you want your book to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?

Dennis:

Both. I want people to enjoy the story, but I want the concepts to stick. I can’t wait to receive a letter from a reader saying that my book helped them figure out what they would put in their own soul line collection.

Norm:

Was your book improvisational or did you have a set plan? What kind of research did you do to write this book?

Dennis:

It was improvisational. I hate to admit it, but I was halfway through my first draft before I realized who the bad guy was! 

As far as research goes: I had to back-fill Soul Identity’s twenty-six hundred years of history, and that got me searching for interesting yet obscure historical figures and locations. Thales was a wonderful find: the perfect founder.

I wrote most of Soul Identity while working from Hyderabad, India on a nineteen month work assignment. This gave me the opportunity to dig into some Eastern religions, and also allowed me to travel to the Ladakh region in Kashmir.

Norm:

You include some very detailed dialogues in your book. Where did that dialogue come from?

Dennis:

From my characters. I’d close my eyes and hear them, and then rush to write it down.

Maybe that’s too flippant an answer. I suspect that many of the conversations Scott has are grounded in real conversations that I’ve had with people over the years. Hopefully they ring true for the reader!

Norm:

What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer? What obstacles did you have in trying to tell your story?

Dennis:

I am so impatient—I can’t wait for people to read what I write, and I have to constantly fight the urge to release before I’m done rewriting. Soul Identity went through eleven drafts: six months to write the first, and twelve more to rewrite. By far my biggest surprise was how much it shrunk. Forty percent of the words were eaten by my delete key, along with some really cool stories and great characters.

The toughest obstacle I face is despair. Writing brings euphoria when I find the right turn of phrase or I find the perfect way to express a new insight, but it also magnifies every self-doubt I have in my abilities to get my story out to the world.

Norm:

What do you think of the new Internet market for writers?

Dennis:

On one hand, I’m thrilled writers and publishers have new ways to get noticed and new ways to sell their works. On the other hand, as one of my colleagues at work said to me, “It’s hard to curl up in bed with a good PDF.” eBooks aren’t mainstream, and although the Internet is a new market, we’re using it to sell our paper-based products. 

The Internet market seems to lend itself well to online content about books or involving books. Bookpleasures.com is an example, and so is the site my wife and I are working on: mysoulidentity.com, where people can create and share (for fun) their own soul line collections.

Norm:

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

Dennis:

Fiction allows the reader to escape into a world that is bent to fit the story. Fiction readers expect this. I love immersing myself into a good novel that turns my world upside down.

But when writers bend the world in ways that don’t help the story progress, I find this an irritating distraction. That’s the point when it’s too much.

Norm:

What has been your overall experience as a published author?

Dennis:

This is my first book… so far it’s all hopes and dreams. But feel free to ask me again in a couple of years.

Norm:

Do you believe in the soul?

Dennis:

Only in the abstract. I believe that it’s your soul that drives you to search for relevance in the world. It’s your soul that strives for immortality, or at least remembrance. My grandparents’ souls are alive as long as they mean something to me. But there will come a day when nobody will know who they were, and their souls will perish.

This is what I like most about the Soul Identity concept: it lets people preserve their souls by forcing a connection upon somebody else who will automatically resurrect them into relevancy.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered and what is next for Dennis Batchelder?

Dennis:

Readers will be happy to know that Scott and Val are embarking on a new Soul Identity adventure: this time involving stolen Nazi loot, and the conflicts that drive a young Archie and Flora into making the wrong decisions for all the right reasons.

Thanks once again and good luck with Soul Identity: a novel

To read Norm's Review of Soul Identity: a novel CLICK HERE

Soul Intent
Excerpt
Reviews

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805627
ISBN-13: 9780979805622
Library of Congress
Control Number:
2009907927
Buy "Soul Intent"

Soul Identity

Excerpt
Reviews
Synopsis

Publisher: NetLeaves
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 0979805600
ISBN-13: 978-0979805608
Library of Congress
Control Number:
2007932540
Buy "Soul Identity"