Monday, September 22, 2014

A Moment of Time - Jilaine Tarisa

Welcome to Jilaine Tarisa, author of A Moment of Time and congratulations on publication. How do you feel about seeing the book in print at last?

Thanks for inviting me, Jean! It’s been a long journey so I’m thrilled to hold a copy of the paperback in my hands.

A Moment of Time is about the paradigm shift that occurs when belief is replaced by understanding.
barnes & noble
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Jilaine Tarisa is a licensed attorney and certified mediator; she also completed a Master of Arts degree in psychology and has studied personality and relationship dynamics as well as social issues concerning the care and treatment of the mentally ill. 

You’ve written a lot of non-fiction material in your professional career. When did you start writing fiction?

When I was twelve, I wanted to write a screenplay about teenagers on a cruise ship. (I had gone to some bon voyage parties in New York City and imagined all the fun—and trouble—teens could have on a cruise without parents!) Before that, my best friend and I wanted to write for Dark Shadows, our favorite television show. (Said friend became a literary agent specializing in horror—and I became an attorney.)
After years of writing about factual matters, I was surprised I wanted to write fiction, but I saw the power of a story well told. I started writing a novel and drafted quite a few chapters. The characters were well developed and I was clear about the themes—but I didn’t know where the story was going or how it would end. Then I started writing lyrics for songs, and the idea for a screenplay came into my head. This time I knew the ending, as well as the main characters and themes, at the outset. So I abandoned the novel and learned about screenwriting.

Did you ever complete the screenplay?

Yes, and I still hope a film will be produced someday. The first half of the story is told in A Moment of Time. (I’m working on the sequel.) I’m calling the series The Red Rose Way.
I also wrote lyrics for the songs that would be featured in a film version, which would be a musical. 

Are your song lyrics featured in the book?  

The story’s heroine, Caitlin Rose, always has pop songs running through her head—foreshadowing her later attempts at writing her own songs. I had wanted to include fragments of familiar songs that she might be singing, but permissions are expensive and copyright law has a lot of gray areas. So instead of having her sing the jingle of an old television commercial, for example, I made one up—for a fictitious product.
When Caitlin’s creativity starts to flow, she writes a poem, and that’s included in the book. The circumstances that surround her earliest lyrics are introduced, along with a line or two of the songs in progress, to show her development as a songwriter. I’m not a musician (I don’t play any instruments) but I’ve studied with sound healers and I love to sing. The healing power of music is one of the themes of the book as well as the screenplay.

How is screenwriting different from novel writing, and why did you decide to write A Moment of Time as a novel?

A novel is a finished product. It may be edited before publication, but the writer’s work is presented directly to readers. A script is read by agents and producers and actors; other professionals take the writer’s words and ideas and turn them into a finished product. A motion picture reflects the vision of the director, and significant changes to the script are sometimes made over the course of production. A screenplay must follow a specific format to comply with industry standards. It’s written in the present tense and is divided into scenes rather than chapters. Each scene includes a brief description of setting (location) and action. What’s happening? What are the actors saying and doing? How do they respond to what’s happening? Lengthy descriptions are unnecessary—and are discouraged.
A novel is a better vehicle for exploring a character’s inner reality. Instead of writing a self-help book about spiritual principles or forgiveness or recovery, I wanted to show what the transformation process looks like.

Is what you are calling the ‘transformation process’ related to what you’ve told me psychologists call  self-actualisation?

Yes, that’s a topic that has interested me since I was a teenager. It just means realizing your potential and being true to your own nature—which is not the same thing as pursuing self-interest and gratification of the senses. A self-actualized person naturally gravitates toward a concern for others and seeks what’s best for the whole, recognizing that each of us is a part of the whole. Self-realization is another term that is often used. The self is not the personality, the socialized self; you have to strip away the labels and limitations that others have used to define you and that you’ve accepted as true. As you move away from a focus on self-image and superficial qualities, you are free to embrace your innate gifts and talents, honor your heart’s desires, and live in accordance with your core values. When you are honest with yourself about what you really want and need, you may look for opportunities to get involved with your community, choose relationships that nourish your soul, and adopt a lifestyle that supports your growth and well-being.
Being self-actualized doesn’t mean you’re perfect; it means you are comfortable in your own skin, free to express your uniqueness, and striving toward greater awareness and fulfillment of your destiny. You may not always see the truth, but seeing what’s false becomes easier—if you are open and receptive. When you are convinced you know the truth about something, you dismiss evidence to the contrary—and may overlook important information as a result.

One of the issues in A Moment of Time concerns a vaccine preservative and the health hazards it might present to children; is that controversy part of the screenplay as well?

Yes, I realized early in the process that if my main character (who is an attorney for the US Department of Justice) was going to confront her boss and take a stand for something she believed in (and risk ruining her career in the process), she needed to be working on a matter that was important enough for her to feel strongly about ‘doing the right thing.’ I researched the thimerosal-vaccine controversy—which hadn’t made headlines yet—for the screenplay.
When I wrote the novel, I added a new layer concerning religion and myth and the early history of Christianity.

Why did you feel this extra layer was important to the book?
It wasn’t planned. When I sat down to write the novel, I thought it would take me a month! I was very familiar with the characters and the story, and I’d spent a lot of time working on that earlier novel, so I expected writing the book to be straightforward and simple. The creative process will take you on a journey, if you’re willing to allow the story to unfold (and are not working under any time constraints).
When I finally completed A Moment of Time, I realized that when someone’s life is transformed, every aspect is affected: choices, relationships, lifestyle, goals and aspirations. Our beliefs shape our experience. You can’t grow if you aren’t willing to examine your beliefs and test their validity—and let them go if you find they are no longer true for you. A Moment of Time is about the paradigm shift that occurs when belief is replaced by understanding. If you stop believing what the people around you believe, you may find yourself an outsider for a time. But heroes (and heroines) don’t follow the crowd; they lead the way. Sometimes unwittingly, but they attract attention and influence others.

You raise important questions and I'm sure each of us will have different answers. For me, it's the debate itself that connects people; there is no need to agree on the answers - or even find answers at all.

My aim is not to supply answers but to inspire people to take their own journeys. I introduce ideas that may be new to some people. I hope readers will explore in greater depth the topics that interest them, whether that means reading about mythology or the Gnostic Gospels or participating in a meditation retreat—or taking the first steps to living the life they’ve always dreamed about.

Thank you for celebrating your launch on my blog. Let's open that wine now! And I wish you all the success in the world with A Moment of Time.


A Moment of Time by Jilaine Tarisa published September 19, 2014 by Inspired Creations, LLC.
Chapter One can be read on Jilaine's web site 

The Story...

A Moment of Time
When Justice Department attorney Caitlin Rose investigates claims that a vaccine preservative is causing adverse effects in children, her boss, Neil Morton, fears that his behind-the-scenes lobbying on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry might be discovered. A reporter's daughter, Caitlin is determined to expose the truth—and Neil is determined to protect his interests. They can't both win, but they might both lose. 

Neil pressures Caitlin to take time off while he seeks an overhaul of the laws governing vaccines. Caitlin travels to Ireland, where she meets up with her unconventional friend Kimo, a former client who is studying to be a naturopathic doctor. After an inexplicable encounter with an enigmatic figure causes her to question her assumptions about life and her understanding of religion, Caitlin's paradigm shift begins. But before she can act upon her newfound principles, Neil summons Sam Burns—and disaster is sure to follow. 

A story about finding your voice, speaking your truth, and following your dreams, A Moment of Timeportrays one woman's quest for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.

My review for A Moment of Time

Exceptional and thought-provoking

Let’s get the criticism out of the way first because I loved so much of this ambitious book and would rather talk about all that I liked. The first section had enough narrative interest to hook me into reading on, but much of it was a sermon on world religions barely disguised as dialogue. Other readers might enjoy the information for its own sake but for me it fell between two genres, spoiling the narrative and yet delivering nothing factual that was new to me.

From then on, I was immersed completely in the story and, perhaps more importantly, in the questions it raised about ‘right’ and healthy ways to live. I found it easy to empathise with Caitin. Her journey from the competitive rat race of top level legal work to other ways of living, took me with her through every experience, and made me reflect on my own life choices.

When Jilaine Tarisa wants to write realistic and moving dialogue, she certainly can. I found the mother-daughter relationship heart-wrenching, each of them wanting to show that she cares, but caught up in their history of antagonism and misunderstandings. Both viewpoints are extremely well written. I love the fact that Caitlin still can’t deal with her mother, however enlightened she becomes – how true to life!

Caitlin’s relationships with men echo her professional journey from the conventional to choices that are different, even dangerous and abusive. When Kimo, the naturotherapist, re-appears in Caitlin’s life I am prepared for another theological lecture – and I get it – but I no longer mind as I’m so caught up in the lives of the characters. Caitlin makes her own very real choices and is not a mere puppet for the author’s theories.

This novel made me think about my life, my values, my choices and the changes along the way. There is wisdom here and some quotations resonate with me, especially the sharp observations on society’s values, such as The Declaration of Independence could have listed rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of money,” he’d once said while toasting a success at the Club. Despite my reservations about being lectured, the broad view of a spiritual dimension is an honest journey across world religions and mythologies, and the conclusions are attractive.

A book to read and re-read, if only to fully appreciate the kitten.