Lisa Binion, BellaOnline’s Fiction Writing Editor–My Interview with Paul Collins, author of ‘Mack Dunstan’s Inferno.’
Paul Collins, the author of Mystery of Everyman’s Way and Mack Dunstan’s Inferno, agreed to answer some questions for me. With his permission, I share both the questions and answers with you.
I am curious, after the review I gave Mystery of Everyman’s Way, why did you want me to review your new book?
I have a sense of humor about things. When I read your review and saw you did not understand the book, or you got confused, I chuckled, knowing very well that I scored a major 5 star review from Midwest Book Review. It was a big-time honor to have them review that work and it set the tone for the other reviewers. I feel books should not be written to amuse or entertain, but to ask questions–play with people’s minds.
You said you wanted to use Charlton Heston’s name but could not get permission to do so. I did notice the names of several other famous people throughout the book. Did you have to obtain permission to use their names? If so, how hard was this to do?
Originally, the manuscript was called Charlton Heston’s Inferno. It was inspired by Bowling For Columbine, where Michael Moore challenged Charlton Heston on his role in promoting guns in the face of youth violence. At that time, I began to read Dante’s Inferno.
Through chance or quirk of fate, I decided to take a chance and write an updated Divine Comedy. iUniverse was keen on getting the Heston Family Estate approval, but everyone else they chose to ignore.
How did you decide whose names you would use in this book? Was it the way these specific people led their lives? Was it because you liked or disliked them? Was it because of the way they lived their lives or what had been written about them?
Very good question. A while back someone mentioned to me about the Bowery Boys movie franchise. I saw it and could not believe that this part of Hollywood was forgotten. I mentioned one of their names to keep their memory alive. I did the same for others.
Other times, I inserted Hugh Hefner, Heidi Fleiss, JK Rowling, or Bono. We put all these celebrities on a pedestal or throne and worship them in a 24 X 7 cultural daze. I wanted the reader to see them in a far newer light, in the middle of an adventure, in the underworld and with no makeup!
There are several different levels of hell in your book. How did you decide what each level of hell would be like? Do you believe that these different levels of hell exist?
Each level of hell was mirrored from Dante’s Inferno.
How much research did you do for Max Dunstan’s Inferno? What did you discover during your research?
This idea grew from me reading the book/ watching the movie What Dreams May Come. I also looked at the Upinshads, Dr. Paul Brunton, The Book of the Dead, and the Mahabharata and The Rama Epic, both retold by William Buck.
In Mack Dunstan’s Inferno, it is said that people go to hell because they cannot forgive themselves. Is this something you believe or is it a belief you found in another religion?
Somewhere in 2003, I needed a way to release stress. I started simple breathing exercises. I went to Hari Krishna Temple, was amused with their attire and chants, went to a splinter group, and was not impressed. I went to the Kabula, even researched the vipassana, before settling on Sahjay Yoga. I have always been drawn to Eastern Thinking.
It has helped me deal with stress from life’s troubles by seeing this world as illusionary. I see this world as illusionary. All things come and go. People, places, friends, family, and girlfriends, all come and go.
Nothing lasts forever. Saying life ends and we face heaven and hell is over the top. I feel death is an illusion and reflects our life. For example, if we sell illegal drugs all our life, die, we will face and experience all the pain the drug abuser felt in his/her life. I still feel my philosophy is evolving and is not for everyone. Some people are conventional by nature and that road is best for them.