14 May 2019

How My Own Past Life Regressions Inspired The Path Keeper

When NJ Simmonds got in touch and asked me to join the blog tour for The Path Keeper I was excited - there has been so much buzz about this book! When she offered to write a guest post I was even more excited. Read on to find out how NJ Simmond's' own past life regressions inspired The Path Keeper. It is fascinating.

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How My Own Past Life Regressions
Inspired The Path Keeper

by NJ Simmonds
The first sentence of this guest blog is going to be a strange one, so brace yourselves… 
The first time I got a glimpse of one of my past lives I was sleeping beside the engine room of a pearling ship heading for Darwin. 
Fifteen years ago, following a messy break up from the guy I thought was ‘The One’, I found myself saying goodbye to London and heading for the other side of the world having left behind a job I loved, a house that was half mine and a man that had broken my heart. My backpack was heavy, but not as cumbersome as the emotional baggage I long-hauled all the way to Oz. I told my parents I’d be visiting a friend in Perth and I’d be back in six to eight weeks’ time. I didn’t return to the UK until fourteen months later. 
Aged twenty-five, I was one of the oldest backpackers among the many trudging their way across the giant island. It’s cliché to say I went in search of myself, but whether I set out to discover who I truly was or not – I found a lot more than I bargained for. I set in motion a life that has since been tinged with magic. 
During those long months of cross-country coach trips, I read avidly on all manner of mystical beliefs. I learned astrology, became a reiki healer, joined a coven of women who met every week to meditate with crystals, and befriended a woman who spoke with angels. A few months into my trip, one blistering hot day as I meditated on the base of Uluru, I realised my previously career-driven London life had been nothing but a dark veil smothering a world of energy and light I never knew existed. It was like cleaning dirt off a window and watching the sun shine through. 
So… Back to my past lives. 
After three months of selling pearls in Broome, a town in Western Australia so secluded it’s actually closer to towns in other continents than its own country, I was offered a lift north, five days on board a pearling boat which I shared with six questionable sailors and their cook. In the day I sunbathed, and at night we drank rum, played cards and laid on deck staring at the stars. One night I was very seasick and was told to sleep as far below deck as I could find to reduce the affect of the swell. Finding myself on a narrow mattress beside the incessant rumbling hum of the engine room, the stench of diesel and oyster shells clinging to every inch of my body, I decided to meditate - reasoning that a past life regression meditation might be an effective way to distract the churn of my stomach and the tides swirling around in my head. 
At this point I held no firm beliefs about the afterlife and didn’t expect anything to happen. Brought up a Catholic, I knew all about God and Heaven and angels. But I’d also been a member of the London school of Psychic Studies. I’d had the odd ghostly experience in my childhood, and I’d seen a lot of stuff I couldn’t explain – so I was open minded, although unconvinced anything would come of it. 
I can’t logically explain what happened next. 
I saw myself as a teen girl in ancient Rome. Barefoot and simply dressed, I was stirring something in a clay pot over an open fire atop the crest of a hill. I kept looking over to what appeared to be Florence (in real life I’d been to Florence a couple of years earlier and inexplicably knew my way around, I’d even remarked at the time how familiar the city felt). As a poor Roman girl I waited, anticipation and excitement churning in my guts as my mother and baby brother busied themselves in our small holding behind me. I knew soldiers were on their way, and with them came the opportunity to feel important. Every few months, as they marched through our village, the locals would tend to them, help them regain their strength, and then they would leave. Every time it filled with me purpose yet left me bereft, over and over again. In that fleeting glimpse of another life (and I’m no historian, so the things I saw were totally new to me) I also recognised that two people from my current life had been there as well, instantly understanding what their role had been then and now.
That night I couldn’t sleep. As I lay on a sweaty mattress in the belly of a pearling boat that rolled through the waters like a drunken whale, I wondered what my vision had meant. Was it an allegory or visual representation of my real-life issues? Was it a dream? An overactive imagination? Or a load of old nonsense? 
I never considered it again until I went on to have two more visions (one through meditation and one through a healer). When the idea of The Path Keeper came to me seven years later in 2012, it made sense to me that an eternal love would involve past lives – and that’s how a handful of different stories began to intertwine and merge into a three-book series. In the sequel Son of Secrets, we see Ella’s past life in 5BC Tuscany, inspired by that tiny snapshot of a lonely Roman girl. That’s when I began to research this possible place and era – and things got weirder. 
I Googled and found the same village I’d imagined myself in, the view of Florence exactly as I’d seen it. The town is called Fiesole and was in fact one of the biggest Roman footholds in Tuscany back then. I’d never heard of it before I’d seen it in my vision and then online. The pots and cooking utensils, the clothing I wore and even the house all matched my memory. Coincidence? A latent memory from something I’d learned at school? Luck? Regardless whether I have ever lived before, it sparked one of my favourite parts of the series and became the backdrop of how Ella and Zac first met. 
Regardless of your beliefs, as a writer, ideas will reach you in the strangest of ways. The Path Keeper may be an urban fantasy romance set in London, with plenty of city grime and contemporary scenes, but it also has an esoteric theme that will have you questioning religion, angels, past lives, fate, the power of crystals and soul mates. And as the series continues, there’s more on the history of witches (another past life memory set in 1613) and the concept of the devil. 
Yes, these are big and contentious subjects to discuss in a fictional novel, especially when writing older YA, but the series isn’t a reflection of my beliefs or a didactic message. It’s just a story of mostly made up stuff I thought was interesting and fun to throw together. Accused of being ‘ambitious’ and ‘brave’ in various reviews –it’s also rubbed plenty of people up the wrong way. I don’t mind, books are meant to make you feel strongly one way or another. 
I’ve always dreamed of seeing my book in a bookstore window, but I never imagined fifteen years ago, as I ran away to the other side of the world with nothing to my name but a dusty backpack and a head full of questions, that I was setting off down a path that would lead me to now. During those sun-drenched wanderlust days, the seeds of my first book were planted, and that tree hasn’t stopped growing. I saw a different world that night on the pearling boat, and I have since created many more worlds of my own. 
Maybe we’ve all lived before, maybe we haven’t – but it’s been a hell of a lot of fun writing about it.


Every blog tour in the blog has a letter. Collect them all to spell out the answer to this competition question: What does Zac get in the sequel SON OF SECRETS that's very out of character? Prize info and entry details will be posted in The Glass House Glass magazine on release day 28 May 2019. Check out today's letter and competition graphic below. 



4 comments:

  1. Such an interesting guest post!

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  2. This was so interesting, I'm fascinated by the concept of past lives.

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  3. This is such an interesting guest post!

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  4. This is fascinating! Past life regression is something I've actually started watching videos about!

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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