What was the inspiration behind ' The Unholy'?
The story comes out of over thirty years of treating patients in psychotherapy who are survivors of the dark side of religion…have been used and abused and cast to the side. I’ve seen that when this happens people, those around the victim, to include family and friends, often turn a blind eye and deny what has happened. Rather than writing a self help book I decided to approach this realm of human suffering in fiction. To tell a story moves the reader into a deep and unconscious dimension that bypasses conscious defenses, leaving us open to truths that otherwise would be blocked. So, dramatizing the dark side of religion, pulling what can be the most vile and evil, and pivoting it against an innocent and sincerely searching soul leaves the reader on edge, hopeful, but unsure as to what will happen and who in the end will survive…a truth conveyed symbolically and dramatically.What message do you hope readers will take from it?
In The Unholy, the story is pure emotion, fear and rage and hope and challenge, that inspires and frightens and causes us to stay up late at night in order to finish the story. Dream and chronic nightmares plagues people who’ve gone through the horror of being abused within a religious system. It could be emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual torment---or all of the above---a true encounter with the unholy---that people undergo during childhood or adolescence or adulthood. They become anxious, depressed, or suffer a terrible emotional breakdown. I’ve treated them, helped them, and they helped to inspire the story of The Unholy and pass on the message that there can be hope in the midst of seeming hopelessness!Which character was the most fun to write?
Claire Sanchez, 25 year old medicine woman, curandera, was definitely an intense figure to write about, perhaps fun, but more than fun, challenging, and satisfying. She is a young woman who has lost her mother when she was five years old, witnessed her murder at the hands of a black robed man. She is a woman of tremendous courage and resolve. Fear tries to get her by the throat and squeeze the life out of her. There are so many times that she fought not to give up, to surrender to despair. I find her so human here, the draw to give up and make herself disappear when confronted with evil her challenge and struggle.Are we going to see these characters again?
Oh my gosh…maybe. Besides Claire, there’s her nemsis, Archbishop William Anarch. He hates women and Claire Sanchez, curandera, is a young and vulnerable women. He is a man who carries the sanction of society, particularly of a huge religious organization, and mixes it with his own sordid inclinations so as to empower himself. I think if he comes back it’s going to take us by surprise, as you’ll come to understand by your reading, how he does it. And if Claire survives his threat just maybe she’ll have new adventures to face within the mystic realm of archetypal energies in her native land of Aztlan.Please tell us more about SoulCare.
SoulCare is my professional psychotherapy practice treating individuals who are in emotional and spiritual crisis. For over thirty years I’ve helped those raised in destructive religious institutions, homes filled with rigid religion. They suffer anxiety, depression, spiritual crises and need help. So, together we journey into the deep mind and there learn their stories and discover healing images and symbols such as those found in the story of The Unholy.How does your work impact your writing?
Depth psychotherapy traverses the personal and collective unconscious of the human mind. There is great suffering and great potential there. Every day I am privileged to work with sincere people who suffer, work through pain, heal, and find their path in life. In my writing, I dramatize the evils suffered and how it is that people find their way to healing and their path in life. This is informed not only by my own reading, research, and life experience but by my daily work with patients in depth psychotherapy.What is the greatest piece of writing advice you have ever received?
To keep on keeping on. Writing has its own angels and demons, times of incredible inspiration and other times of despair. It is our challenge as writers to not go too high with the inspiration or too low with discouragement. So, when I am tempted to go one way or the other, I remember to settle myself and just keep on keeping on!On what other writing projects are you currently working?
I am smack dab in the middle of The Dark Goddess. It is a psychological thriller exploring whether bad love is better than no love. A middle-aged woman and her friends are faced with life-and-death decisions about life and loving. It is a supernatural tale, like The Unholy, but different in that the female protagonist and friends are middle-aged and struggle with what can afflict so many in middle age—is bad love better than no love? The supernatural dimensions pops out as it does in The Unholy to emphasize the great mysteries of life that can come to our assistance of we are aware of them and allow them to.What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
Folks might be surprised to learn that The Unholy was a story twenty years in the making. It’s held up over such a long period of time because every time I wanted to put it away my wife would encourage me. It was rejected well over one hundred times…so there’s one hundred things people didn’t know. If it wasn’t my wife, then my dreams would say not to give up on it, even though I had shelved it and moved on to other novels. People don’t know about the dreams about The Unholy that I had. The dreams said to leave it in the kiln, to be fired some more, and then one day when I least expected it would be ready to be removed from the kiln. That’s when Jim White from Sunstone Press and I met up and he was on fire for the story. This is stuff people don’t know about me. Years, and despair, and patience, a plethora of dreams and nightmares, struggles, encouragement from my wife and family, and synchronistically meeting the right people went into publishing of The Unholy…dreams, nightmares, patience, despair, my wife, my family, encouragement, the phantasmagoric kiln, Jim White and Sunstone Press…all things some people know but many people do not.Is there anything else you would like to share?
It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to address this blogsite on the story of The Unholy because readers could have been frightened off by the title itself or the topic or the image of The Devil’s Throne on the front of the book. A religious complex can grab hold of people and cause them to fear venturing ahead to read a story that could propel questioning and growth. The readers of this blog, by the very fact that they’ve read this far, are spiritual seekers and open-minded inquirers. So, it is a privilege to have shared a little about me and the story of The Unholy with all of you!Thank you so much for your time!
The Unholy, a novel by Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D.Distributed by Ingram
(Sunstone Press)"A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, the Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision."
Have you ever thought that something other than yourself has a hold of your mind? Meet Claire, a young curandera, in the mystic land of Aztlan who struggles to overcome the forces of evil and claim her inner inheritance.
The Unholy is a riveting novel about the dark side of religion, cultural prejudice throughout the Southwest, realms of mystic happenings, folk healers, native shamans, and signs from the spirit world. It is a psychological thriller, supernatural journey, and neo-gothic horror.
The Unholy lures the reader into a twilight realm that pits two old worlds against each other — the indigenous medicine ways versus institutional religion. Natural magic and the dark side of religion each play a role as healer confronts slayer.
“Paul DeBlassie III has brought us a richly imagined supernatural thriller set in the high mountain desert of Aztlan, where Claire Sanchez, an herbalist and medicine woman, has come to reclaim her healing heritage and uncover the secrets of her mother’s death. The book digs deep into legend, folklore, and the author’s own imagination to paint a stirring picture of a traditional curanderismo pitted against the oppressive forces of institutional religious power. Make sure you have lots of time; once you start reading this book, it will be hard to put down.”
-—Stephan V. Beyer, author of Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon
“The Unholy, an excellent novel by Paul DeBlassie III, keeps the reader engaged throughout in mystery, suspense, and church politics. In addition to vividly depicting the beautiful landscape and culture of New Mexico, it exposes and strengthens the traditional work of the medicine women of the Southwest. I am looking forward to Dr. DeBlassie's next book.”
—Eliseo "Cheo” Torres, author of Curandero: A Life In Mexican Folk Healing, professor, and university administrator
Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D., is a psychologist and writer living in Albuquerque who has treated survivors of the dark side of religion for more than 30 years. His professional consultation practice — SoulCare — is devoted to the tending of the soul. Dr. DeBlassie writes psychological thrillers with an emphasis on the dark side of the human psyche. The mestizo myth of Aztlan, its surreal beauty and natural magic, provides the setting for the dark phantasmagoric narrative in his fiction. He is a member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.
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