What do travel, the esoteric, and angels all have in common?
For fantasy author N.J. Simmonds, a lot. Below, she shares more on her backpacking travels and how they inspired the truth behind past life, spiritual, and angelic references in her new release, Son of Secrets.
“The Path Keeper came directly from my own imagination, there is a certain ‘truth’ to many of the past life, spiritual and angelic references. In 2005 I backpacked around Australia and Asia for fifteen months, and in that time I studied a variety of topics, from astrology and gem stones to reiki and meditation.” — Author’s Note from The Path Keeper
My father had a strict Spanish Catholic upbringing and I went to a Catholic school, but both my parents are very open-minded—so as a child I read up on everything from past lives and Buddhism to auras and aliens. Even my English Grandfather would show me pictures of the Nazca Lines in Peru or tell me ghost stories and explain to me that there’s a lot of things in this world we don’t fully understand. So from a young age, I was encouraged to question folklore and myths, religion and beliefs, and take away from them my own truths.
Faith is a personal thing, so what I believe in has nothing to do with what I write about. Many readers mistakenly believe that the views of a character in a story belong to the author too. That’s not true. What influences I use to make my stories captivating aren’t necessarily things that I base my own life on, but they have all been fully researched.
My interest in the esoteric came to fruition in 2005 when I travelled on my own to Australia after suffering a big break up. I needed to get myself together, so I chose to take time backpacking, leaving behind a job and house I loved and starting afresh. Just me, one rucksack, and a one-way ticket to the other side of the world.
Travel opens the mind, plus being alone and far from those you love is a powerful thing, forcing you to look at yourself and your life, past and present. To think about bigger issues. While in Broome, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere on the Western coast of Australia that seemed to attract an eclectic mix of lost travellers, I discovered an entire world of alternative thinking.
During my four months there I met some very interesting people and joined a group of women who met for meditation once a week. I listened to their inspirational stories. I bought a lot of books on angels, spiritual masters, and different religions. I had my first lesson in reiki (a form of healing via the auric fields), and I taught myself astrology and all about the power of crystals. During those meditation evenings I also saw and felt some incredible (and inexplicable) things that influenced my thinking and beliefs.
I kept learning more about this new way of thinking and was lucky enough to meditate at the foot of the sacred Uluru, and even experienced a couple of powerful past life flashbacks. It sounds so corny to go travelling alone and ‘find yourself’—but it was a powerfully pivotal year in my life. And after nine months, I even met my would-be husband who was also travelling around the country.
Together we visited Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos where we learned a lot about Eastern religions, which combined with all I’d experienced in Australia started to make a lot of sense to me. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of the world and learned a lot along the way.
Seven years later I was living in Spain, mother to two toddlers, when the idea of Zac and Ella came to me. Straight away I knew this story wasn’t going to be a standard linear love story. I really liked the idea of including not only my passion for travel in the books but also some of the esoteric learnings I’d discovered. I respect the teachings of all religions, but like Dan Brown did with The Da Vinci Code, I wanted to see what it would look like to challenge and question much-loved tropes and religious stories we’ve all grown up with.
My books aren’t didactic, and they aren’t anti-religion; I simply use a mix of beliefs as a backdrop to a two-thousand-year love story. Is what I say about angels ‘correct?’ To some extent, yes. I’ve researched a lot about how different religions and beliefs see them, but I also made a lot of it up. And when I write about chakras, crystals, the concept of life paths, all historical references, specific artwork, historical characters and times and places—they are all based on facts and lots of things that have really happened. Seven years of research went into this trilogy, and at forty-one years of age, an entire lifetime of fascination with religion, esoteric powers, spirituality, and alternative healing have also contributed. But I’ve added my own twist in places, because that’s the best part about writing fantasy fiction!
Son of Secrets is the second book in my trilogy, and although the world I’ve built is an amalgamation of lots of different influences, the main theme is a universal truth. Love. Whether you’re religious or not, whether you believe in crystals and angels or not, no one can argue with the force and power of love. So I hope everyone can take something away from this story.
Read an Excerpt of Son of Secrets:
Praise for Son of Secrets:
“…the wow factor seriously doesn’t seem to stop. …genuinely one of the best fantasy/romance series I have read for a long time…I would highly recommend it.” — Lorna Corbin, NetGalley & Goodreads Reviewer
“…full of beautiful past life imagery, a new twist on your typical view of angels, and love in it’s many forms.” — Lakeshia Love, NetGalley Reviewer
“If your looking for an excellent writer that can make you feel what the characters are feeling—this is that book. …a perfect follow up to book 1. I can’t wait to see where they all go in the next book.” — Last Page Books
“Just wow! This is an amazing book. The imagery and creativeness in this book is amazing. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. …simply a must read.” — Gina Roe, Librarian
“…captivating from the first paragraph and the twists and turns this book takes while Simmonds weaves this tale are perfection.” — Meghan Gibbons, The Fiction Cafe Book Group
“The book was amazing, and I loved it even more than the first book! It’s a rarity that books get better as the series goes along—and this one certainly knocked me off my feet. I simply can’t wait for the next book!! Bring it on, NJ Simmonds!!” — Evelina, AvalinahsBooks Blog
What’s next in The Indigo Chronicles series?
Ella and Zac’s thrilling story concludes in Children of Shadows, the third and final book of The Indigo Chronicles series, releasing fall 2021.
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Visit N.J. Simmonds’s website for information on her books, blog, and upcoming events!
About N.J. Simmonds:
N.J. Simmonds began her career in glossy magazines and marketing, before becoming a freelance writer and consultant. She now fills her days writing books about strong women, magic and adventure. She is the co-founder of the online magazine The Glass House Girls and has since contributed to many publications.
Originally from North London, with Spanish parentage, N.J. Simmonds currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband and two daughters.