Title: The Astrologer’s Daughter
Author: Elyse Douglas
Genre: contemporary romance
Joanna Halloran, a best selling writer and astrologer, lives in a beach house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. After a violent storm, she roams the beach, glances seaward and spots a man clinging to a piece of wreckage, being tossed helplessly. She dives in and pulls him safely onto the beach.
Robert Zachary Harrison is from a wealthy, political family. As he slowly recovers from a private plane crash, he and Joanna fall in love and spend passionate and sequestered weeks together. But because of family duty, Robert makes the painful decision to leave her and return to his fiancée and political life. He departs, not knowing Joanna is pregnant.
Twenty five years later, Senator Robert Harrison is running for President of the United States. In the midst of a contentious presidential campaign, Joanna’s daughter, who has a passion to expose secrets, seeks revenge on her father. She is also falling in love with her father’s adopted son.
As secrets emerge, Joanna and Robert meet again and confront the past and present. Robert confesses a secret that Joanna had never known. Now, on the world stage, they struggle to keep their families and careers from destruction.
Do you have any feelings in general that you are disturbed by?
I’m not disturbed by life so much now. Most of the time I try to celebrate it for what it is. As Joseph Campbell said, life is a wonderful, wonderful opera, except that it hurts. I accept that it hurts and try to move on. I’m more baffled by life now; but in an odd way I enjoy the mechanism of life and the insanity of it all: that is, the insanity within the apparent normalcy of every day living. I mean, who do you know who is not insane in some way? And yet most of us manage to live fairly “normal” lives.
In writing fiction, I try to show how insane “normal” really is and, at the same time, how beautifully human we all are, struggling with our emotions, desires and fears. If I’m disturbed by anything, it is the lack of compassion we often have for each other and for ourselves as we stumble through this experience, on this little round rock of a planet that is spinning around out in the middle of nowhere. We don’t know where we came from, who we really are or where we’re going when we “POOF” disappear. We’re all in it and “out of it,” together.
Elyse: I don’t think there is anyone who can honestly say that they’re not disturbed by feelings of inadequacy and fear. In my opinion, these are the enemies of our lives; we must face them on the battlefield of our minds to prevent them from sapping our vital force, to stop them from taking over our emotional lives. Because we have human consciousness, we can imagine what we think should be, as well as what could be, and so we regret the past, feel inadequate in the present, and worry about the future, especially the reality of death.
When you watch a cat or a dog dying, you realize that they have no fear. There is physical pain, perhaps, but no fear. A cat will just go off into the woods and hide, as if it knows to put its body in the proper place to decompose and continue the life cycle. Because there is no imagination and no awareness of the future, animals just heed the dictates of the moment, follow instinct, respond to waning energy and allow themselves to go to sleep. Humans, on the other hand, realize what they will miss when they die; they can anticipate the physical pain of losing energy and breath; can dread the loss of their independence; can wonder what happens to their individual consciousness; can hope they will be rewarded beyond death for their attempts to live in a moral or dharmic way.
I haven’t explored death in my fiction writing yet, but I can envision a time when I will. I see octogenarians on the bus or on the street, and I imagine what goes through their minds: will I have enough money to live out my life with dignity? Will I have the physical mobility I need to live an independent life? Will there be someone to help me through the last few months of my life if I become enfeebled and/or demented? Will I accept death and be able to die without becoming bitter and angry?
As someone once said, the paradox of life is that we know we are going to die, but we have to live as if we are going to live forever. Perhaps it was E.M. Forster who shared that thought; I do know he wrote this one, in a powerful essay entitled “What I Believe”, published in 1938: “The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.”
About Elyse Douglas
Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team of Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse received a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University, and Douglas attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Their novel, The Astrologer’s Daughter, was published in 2011. They currently live in New York City. Wanting Rita is their second novel.