Interview with Barry H. Smith,
Author of :

by Christen Beckmann
of America House

Your book deals with the subject of past life regression. Is this something that you have experienced, and if not, do you plan to try it in the near future?

The book was actually inspired by, and loosely based upon, my own past life regression sessions. These sessions took place in the early eighties, prior to Shirley MacLaine's Out on a Limb miniseries. I was regressed numerous times by a college professor who, on occasion, used a lady psychic to help guide his regression subjects. Included in these sessions was the exploration of my five Atlantean incarnations.

This is a very unique idea for a horror theme. That demons could emerge from a past life regression therapy is both terrifying and plausible. What was your inspiration?

I have always been fascinated by the quirks of human nature. For example, most people believe what they want to believe, and hear what they want to hear. Very few people question information that supports their own world view. Shirley MacLaine and others channel spirit guides and accept the information that they supply at face value. Being a lawyer, however, I've been trained to be somewhat cynical and to test effect, to insist on corroboration for the crucial testimony of a lone witness. In many ways, Twilight Dynasty is a quest for truth, and therefore, involves questioning (or
cross-examining) what we would otherwise assume as fact. Past life regression by its very nature involves being led by a spirit guide. It is, in essence, a spiritual journey. As any ghostbuster worth his (or her) salt will tell you, not all spirits are benign. Thus, the premise for Twilight Dynasty. What could happen if, by undergoing regression therapy, one ends up "Courting Evil".

Aspiring authors are usually advised to write what they know. What aspects of you, and your experiences, are included in Twilight Dynasty?

As previously mentioned, I have undergone past life regressions similar to those undergone by Kyle Morrow in Twilight Dynasty. Kyle is also a lawyer like myself, and so I've placed him in a profession and lifestyle with which I can identify. Like Kyle, I have also studied Tae Kwon Do. I have purposely set most of the action in locales well known by me, being a native Torontonian and having traveled extensively throughout the Muskoka area of Ontario. Although the characters are fictional in Twilight Dynasty, they are based upon personality types that I have encountered in my twenty years of practising law as well as my forty plus years of experiencing life. I have always been a search of the secrets of the universe and our proper place on this plane of existence. Twilight Dynasty is very simply a book written for the seeker in all of us!

 Are there any particular writers who have inspired you to write?

 My writing style and my interest in the fantasy/horror genre was inspired at an early stage by the flamboyant writing styles of some of the best pulp fiction writers, most notably Robert E. Howard (the
 creator of Conan the Barbarian and Kull of Atlantis) and H. P. Lovecraft (author of the extremely dark and scary Cthulhu Mythos as well as The Dunwich Horror). My challenge since that early influence has been to add realistic settings and believable characterization to such stories without sacrificing the
supernatural elements and the action-oriented writing style. Just before I penned the final version of Twilight Dynasty, I read The Oath by Frank E. Peretti. Although a Christian author, Peretti's writing is far from staid, conservative pap. Peretti employs a fast-paced style coupled with realistic settings. On the very edge of the reality, the supernatural elements lurk. The Oath was some of the most heady and satisfying reading that I had enjoyed for some time. Since the writing style that I had developed over the years was similar to that of Peretti, his success convinced me to finally write the book that I had been
researching and tinkering with for over a decade. With respect to the genre, I tend to look at my work as being "genre neutral" as it combines several genres, including adventure, horror, romance, sword & sorcery, fantasy, suspense, etc. I don't want my writing to ever become predictable or formula driven. I would categorize Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil as a supernatural thriller, but only because this phrase describes the major elements that dominate this particular storyline. This book has been written, however, to be enjoyed by adult readers of all genres of fiction.

You have created a story as such that other sequel novels could be written. Any plans for this?

My love of epic fantasy often has me thinking in trilogies. Although Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil is a
self-contained, stand-alone novel, the sub-title was used in order to leave the door open for further incursions into the supernatural and/or horror realm. If Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil generates enough interest, there are indeed further stories to be told. Twilight Dynasty: Temporal Justice is currently in the works. A few of the surviving characters from Courting Evil will be featured, but the main characters will be new and fresh. A Satanic serial killer has been captured and is awaiting who is turning the beautiful Muskoka countryside into a killing field?

Ta-lon and Belial are particularly vivid characters, enough to make even the most un-superstitious soul a little wary. Did you do any research regarding these characters?

Ta-lon is my own creation, based loosely on Robert E. Howard's beloved barbarians. Why Ta-lon seems so vivid in the novel is probably because he was originally meant to be a major character in my initial draft of Twilight Dynasty. The original version was to take place for the most part in Atlantis with a modern-day connection. In order to make the story more relevant to today's reader, I reversed the primary and secondary settings. One day I intend to write from the Atlantean perspective.
Belial is a "real" demon of ancient legend. In addition, according to Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet, Belial was worshiped as a deity in Atlantis by the "Sons of Belial". One medieval writer characterized Belial as follows: "Never has Hell received a more dissolute, more heinous, more worthless spirit, or one more in love with vice for vice's sake!" He has also been called "the demon of lies". He is said to have been created immediately after Lucifer himself, and was one of the first angels to revolt against God. In
one of the Dead Sea scrolls, Belial is referred to as the leader of  the Sons of Darkness. I believe that the Twilight character admirably lives up to his historical billing.

When you're not writing, what other interests do you involve yourself in?

Since I'm only a part-time writer and a full-time lawyer, my law practice takes up much of my time. I'm also an active member of my local Rotary Club, and in this way contribute to charitable and community causes. (Note: The mysterious "Legacy Club" in Twilight Dynasty is completely unassociated with the Rotary Club, which is a fine, highly-principled institution.) I play tennis and golf for relaxation. My favourite spectator sports are hockey and baseball. I like to sketch as much as I like to write, despite my lack of formal training in both fields. I enjoy a broad range of interest in both film and print media, including action flicks, sci-fi, historical drama, espionage thrillers, and romantic comedies, to name only a few. Much of my downtime is spent in family-related activities. My wife and two sons are my greatest joy. We love to travel as a family to interesting locales both in Canada and around the world. In case you're wondering, Kyle Morrow in Twilight Dynasty is not named after my son, son is named after Kyle Morrow, a character who I first created in the 70's when my writing was still in its infancy.

This story seems that it would translate into film very well, especially with such a unique premise.  Do you have any plans to pursue this avenue?

I tend to write in short scenes, almost like a screenplay, so I agree that film would be a natural progression for this work. Should the book be successful, and should a movie offer materialize, I would love to see the Twilight characters come to life on the silver screen, with the "Huntsville Horror" coming to life through the magic of FX. Let's put it this way...all offers would be considered very seriously.

The Author with the Muskoka site of "Twilight Dynasty" in the background.


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