In their self-indulgent realm, the gods know no suffering until the end of their days. Compassion is the only portal through which they can escape the self and its eventual demise, but without suffering, compassion cannot be recognized. So, they go in search of compassion in the human domain where happiness and sorrow abound. There, they genetically engineer a superior humanoid race and are soon distracted by the delight they find in the daughters of men. The gods are the extraterrestrial visitors of our collective memory.
Tormented by envy, the Asuras are warlike demigods that follow the gods into the human domain. They become the demons who initiate our concept of evil.
Quay is the son of Om, the father of the gods. Quay’s childhood adventures with Daya, his female humanoid companion, take place on the Isle of the Gods, which closely parallels the legendary Atlantis. On coming of age, Quay and Daya become inseparable lovers. Quay is challenged to separate passion from compassion.
In the human domain, the gods were simply gardeners. When the god Talmund left his garden across the Salt Sea and returned to the Island of the Gods, he left his humanoid workers behind. Eventually, two civilizations evolved from his workers, the sedentary Taltecs in the south and the nomadic Tulacans in the north. The civilizations resemble the pre-Columbian cultures described in the Book of Mormon.
Fearful that these autonomous humanoids were exceeding limits the gods set for them, Om sends Quay across the Salt Sea to observe. Before undertaking his mission, Quay interviews the first humanoid, Ahn, and the god, Elo, to whom Ahn was given. The meeting occurs in Eden where Elo kept an expansive garden. The interview is essentially a discussion with the Biblical Adam, which sets the tone for the human condition and their relationship with the gods.
Quay’s mission abruptly separates him from Daya. Ri, an Asura driven by hatred of the gods and an erotic desire for Daya, pursues Quay. Quay’s adventures among the Taltecs and Tulacans are interrupted when the two civilizations collide in an epic conflict that spans a continent.
Meanwhile, a geologic cataclysm destroys the island of the gods. Daya is rescued by an Asura ship, is assaulted and subsequently escapes into the forests of the Eastern Isle that survived the deluge. There, she becomes the legendary huntress of the forest, similar to Artemis, twin sister of Apollo.
In the Land North, on a field of flowers, during the final battle of the great war between the Taltecs and Tulacans, Ri finally comes upon Quay and attacks, but he is shot through by an arrow from the bow of a nomad who had befriended Quay. Quay assists Ri through his dying experience. By his outreach to his mortal enemy, Quay discovers the compassion for which the gods had entered the human domain.
Quay ventures back across the Salt Sea to find the Isle of the Gods has vanished. He sails on to the Eastern Isle where he is reunited with his kind. Scarred and embittered, Daya courageously defies the authority of the gods. It is the darkest of nights when Quay watches from a distance as Daya releases a virus from an urn that the gods had prepared in secret to cull the humans. Her act is reminiscent of the legendary Pandora. The freeing of the virus results in Daya’s death and that of all humanoids on the Eastern Isle. In effect, she impedes the grand experiment of the gods and alters human evolution forever.
In his 977th year, Quay began to die. His dying experience is detailed using the Tibetan Book of the Dead as a guide. Quay was the last of the gods that walked among us.
Why did you decide to become a writer?
My writing began when my daughter, Berlyn, was murdered following her high school prom. The tragedy caused me to leave the rubble of my assumptions to go in search of the most profound questions we ask ourselves. My first book, “A Flower in the Snow” and later “Descent of the Gods” is the result of that odyssey.
Who/what are your writing inspirations?
I believe the seeds of my interest in writing “Descent of the Gods” were cultivated when I was quite young, after reading “Chariot of the Gods” by Erich von Daniken and Zecharia Sitchin’s “Wars of Gods and Men.” Later, in my travels to Egypt, Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, I found great similarity between antediluvian lore and stories of the gods that were said to have interacted with the people who once lived in these enchanting places. These first-hand legends served to further my interest.
Finally, the murder of my daughter created an insatiable need in me to know more about the dark mystery of dying. What happens to us when we are no longer connected to senses that tell us who and what we are? Where do we go? Who or what are we? “Descent of the Gods” takes a fascinating journey into these questions and more, using the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” and the Egyptian Book of the Dead” as guides.
What are your favorite genres to read?
I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. Each day, I read from the Bhagavad Gita. In contrast, I enjoy books about World War II. I also like to read stories about ancient sages and what they discovered about the way life works. I relish the light they bring to the world.
Favorite writing food / snack?
I find I am more alert and in tune with the day’s mission of writing when I am fasting. However, for a favorite snack, I like peanut butter and crackers.
What do you hope readers take away most from your writing?
I hope my readers will, from time to time, set “Descent of the Gods” down, close their eyes for a few minutes and give thought to a special part of the story that moved them. I would like for readers of “Descent of the Gods” to have a moment of introspection in answer to long harbored wonders, like when a child is alone in a field looking up at the stars on a warm August night. It would be wonderful if “Descent of the Gods” triggered a reader’s private moment of awe so personal it will become a part of them.
Who’s the favorite character of yours that you’ve written and why?
Daya, the humanoid consort of the god Quay is my favorite character. In a Pandora-like twist to “Descent of the Gods,” she thwarted the grand human experiment of the gods and changed human evolution forever. She is the most complex, courageous personality and yet, the most vulnerable. I love Daya.
What is your writing style? Outliner/Planner or Seat of the Pantser?
I follow emotion and intuition without a plan. Characters come willingly to the story like actors seeking to contribute their special talents and personalities. The plot always forms around their personalities as it does in life. No script is needed. It simply happens.
If someone wanted to become a writer, what tips would you give to them?
“Know thy self.” Everything else one needs to know will follow.
Have you ever purchased something from a late-night infomercial? If so, what?
If you could collaborate with any other author (living, dead, or undead) who would that be and why?
I would choose to interview the ancient sage, Vyasa, author of the Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabarata. His works contain soul-stirring revelations for the benefit of humanity. For me, it represents an ocean of knowledge and an inexhaustible spiritual treasure.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you do?
Apart from writing, here is a little of what I have done:
I created and marketed the Torch of Liberty Award, reserved exclusively for heads of state. Funding from corporate sponsors of the award provided supplemental university scholarships for a nation’s economically poor, but promising young women.
Past recipients include: Her Excellency The Late Benazir Bhutto; Their Majesties, The Late King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan; Nursultan Nazarbeyev, President of Kazakhstan; Sulyman Demirel, President of Turkey and Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
I also instituted the Marco Polo Award to underwrite the cost of bringing volunteer medical, agricultural and educational experts to serve humanitarian missions in areas of China designated for poverty alleviation. Presented in Beijing, the award brings China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts affairs together with the world’s leading CEO’s.
In addition, I created a series of “Salutes to Working Kids” where celebrities from Los Angeles’ entertainment community honor working young people. Proceeds from the salutes provided supplemental university scholarships for “Working Kids.”
A graduate of New Mexico Highlands University, I am the recipient of China’s Friendship Award and the Mark of Excellence Award bestowed by Volunteers of America
Coke, Pepsi, or?
Pepsi, please…more bubbles.
What’s one thing people should know and/or don’t know about you?
I was a stutterer early on in life, picked it up from my mother who has a profound stutter, even into her current age of 94. Stuttering made school and employment extremely difficult. I nearly dropped out of college with failing grades because of my inability to speak and the requirement of speech and a foreign language to graduate. In a final desperate effort, I found a college in northern New Mexico where speech and a foreign were optional. When I first arrived on campus, I took a chance and presented my problem to a kind, old professor there.
She said, “Mark, in my classes you won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and I’ll see to it professors in my department follow suit.”
“What d-d-d-do you t-t-t-teach?” I asked.
“Philosophy. I’m chairman of the department,” she answered.
A tremendous weight suddenly fell from my shoulders. I had to grin at myself, knowing I was about to become a philosophy major in a little New Mexican college simply because I stuttered. I didn’t know it then, but I would eventually graduate with honors. I don’t stutter anymore.
Is there a character that has the most “You” in them? Or the opposite of you?
I believe the god Quay, who I created for “Descent of the Gods,” harbors my personality more than any character in the story. He is more of a witness than a participant and discovers his abilities in the tasks he undertakes alone. His solitary nature opens into his imagination that becomes reality. His love of Daya represents a difference of himself that he enjoys and savors.
If we lived in a Fahrenheit 451 culture, which book would you want to memorize?
“Descent of the Gods. Unlike any other work I have encountered, it speaks with life and death as living entities. Its wisdom is what I would need most in the Fahrenheit 451 culture.
Has anyone written a fan fiction based on your work?
Sorry, no. Maybe someday soon.