“ASK ROBERT SHEPPARD” AUTHOR INTERVIEW AND Q & A SITE NOW AVAILABLE ON GOODREADS!—PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINATED SPIRITUS MUNDI IS NOW ON WATTPAD!—READ AUTHOR ROBERT SHEPPARD’S INTERVIEWS BY GLENDA FRALIN AND MORGEN BAILEY NOW!

Pushcart Prize Nominated Author Robert Sheppard Delivering Pubic Address on the Creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly at People's University, Beijing, China.

Pushcart Prize Nominated Author Robert Sheppard Delivering Pubic Address on the Creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly at People’s University, Beijing, China.

Responding to popular demand, Pushcart Prize nominated author Robert Sheppard has made himself available for Open Questions & Answers and Interviews on the new “Ask Robert Sheppard–Author of Spiritus Mundi” website on Goodreads. The site features both text and audio past interviews by the author discussing all things literary, writing and his Pushcart Prize nominated novel Spiritus Mundi. You can pose thought-provoking questions or open ended discussions to which the author will respond, and on certain scheduled times, real-time chat sessions will be arranged. To access the site anytime to to the Goodreads Group Page for “Ask Robert Sheppard–Author of Spiritus Mundi:”

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/120348-ask-robert-sheppard–author-of-spiritus-mundi

or follow the Group Search button on Goodreads and join the Group!

SPIRITUS MUNDI NOW ON WATTPAD!

Spiritus Mundi is also now available on Wattpad, the premiere Online Writing & Sharing site for the Mobile Internet. To access the Wattpad Spiritus Mundi site go to:

http://www.wattpad.com/user/robertsheppard

and enjoy featured selections on your iPad, Mobile Phone or other Mobile Internet platform.

Pushcart Prize Nominated Author Robert Sheppard at Seminar on Creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly at People's University, Beijing, China.

Pushcart Prize Nominated Author Robert Sheppard at Seminar on Creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly at People’s University, Beijing, China.

FEATURED INTERVIEWS OF ROBERT SHEPPARD WITH GLENDA FRALIN AND MORGEN BAILEY—READ NOW HERE!

You can access the full Interviews below at their home sites:

Wordsprings with Glenda Fralin: http://wordsprings.blogspot.com/

Morgen Bailey Interviews: http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/author-interview-with-non-fiction-science-fiction-and-fantasy-writer-and-poet-robert-sheppard/

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interview with International Author and Educator Robert Sheppard

Interview with International Author and Educator  Robert Sheppard
Author Robert Sheppard

Author Robert Sheppard

It is difficult for me to describe Robert as one man. He is so multi-faceted that description takes on a new meaning. Dr. Robert Sheppard literally took on the world with his latest achievement; Spiritus Mundi. The novel, in two parts, spans political, philosophical, and cultural differences throughout the world. Through it the reader travels deep into the not so touristy elements of countries such as the U.S., Britain, China and Israel. Spiritus Mundi is currently slotted for a film version.
Renown Literary Interviewr Glenda Fralin

Renown Literary Interviewr Glenda Fralin

I’ve known Robert as an author for many years. He’s mentored me through poetry, and some short stories. We’ve not always agreed, but that’s a lot of the fun and learning process. If anything, Robert has encouraged me and found a way to help me develop as a writer even when we have not shared a forum.
Robert’s expertise spans international law, literature, multiple languages, and much more. In other words, Robert may hold no punches, but he does know from where his opinions come and how to promote them. He’s an activist for change in the United Nations, pushing for a parliamentary style of leadership and exchange patterned after the European Parliament.
Dr. Sheppard lives between California and China. In China, through an exchange program, Robert teaches International Law and Literature. His expertise in international law, civil rights and the world’s political systems allow him to work with government leaders of China to build important international relationships.
There is much about Robert, but this is an interview of him; not a dialogue about him.
Glenda: Robert, you realize you are making my day in a good way, sorry for goofy rhyme and cliché. You are a surprise for me. When I asked for the interview, I only knew you as Robert my literary friend who wrote an impressive novel, confused me with his particular style of poetry over the years, and has a great sense of humor about it. Now, I have a good deal more understanding how this Kansas/Nebraska farm kid wouldn’t understand your world expressed in poetry.  I looked at your credentials and Spiritus Mundi and must say I’m glad I knew you before. I write in awe of my dear friend Robert an international ambassador of education and change.
My first question now is how and from whom did you become interested in such a demanding but fascinating mission?
Robert: Thank you so much for inviting me to interview with you, Glenda, and it is my honor and pleasure to be here with you. Thanks also for your warm friendship over the years. In terms of “missions,” yes, you could say that Spiritus Mundi, in addition to aspiring to constitute a rich and enjoyable work of literature in and of itself, takes on at least two special “missions.” The first is the promotion of the concept of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly for global democracy, and the second the promotion of the concept of “World Literature” as an emerging cultural institution in the age of the Global Village transcending the national literatures which it has outgrown.
     In terms of my personal background, both missions grew out of my professional life as well as personal interests as they developed over the years. I studied and practiced law and then taught International Law at Peking University and also worked for UNIDO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in China, during which time I wrote some influential papers around the year 2000 for the civil society component of the Millennium Forum of the United Nations, focused on the evolution of the United Nations in the new century. These papers were rooted in the successful development of the European Parliament, the first democratic international institution, and essentially proposed the extension of that proven concept from the European Union to a global scale as a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. In the next decade I discovered that many others were working in the same direction, and joined with them in the Committee for a Democratic United Nations and the Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, headquartered in Germany, and whose most visible leader has been former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
     At the same time, I had long had a “double” profession, in addition to having studied law, having also studied Comparative Literature in the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley. You could say that while I enjoyed law, literature was always the “first love of my life.” I had always felt that writing as an author was the “first calling” of my life, and that in a sense the other involvements were a preparation and support for that calling. I had written poetry and short stories all my life, but about three or four years ago I felt it was time to move to a higher plane and write a full-length novel. Out of these disparate interests grew Spiritus Mundi, which was designed to challenge my writing skills and capacity to a higher level, along with the tangential goals of promoting the concept of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly along with the emerging cultural institution of World Literature, which grew out of my prior work in Comparative Literature.
Glenda: Spiritus Mundi is a novel encompassing the life of your main character Robert Sartorius that takes on much of your own background and mission. In Part 2 The Romance, Robert’s son Jack goes to Israel to work on organizing the fundraising telethon to support his father’s mission with the U.N. I think of authors who try to bring their mission into fiction and end up over stating to the point of losing their story. How did you avoid such pitfalls?
Robert: I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one! Knock on wood! A work of art treads a fine line when it becomes involved in a social mission or crusade for a particular political or religious undertaking. A work of fiction must create a living world with living characters within it, and if it degenerates into a mere tract of “propaganda,” even for admirable purposes, it runs the danger of being de-natured as a work of art. Oscar Wilde and the Parnassians are remembered for “l’art pour l’art” or “art for art’s sake,” and I would concur that art must have its own intrinsic integrity and not be prostituted for mere didactic or narrowly political ends to live as art. But on the other hand, I have always rejected this point of view when taken to an extreme, as whatever art is it is also a part of life and the human world, and therefore cannot and should not avoid a dimension of “social engagement.” I feel that writers and artists have a social responsibility of some element of leadership in shaping the values and worldviews of the wider community, with the proviso, as mentioned before that their work must retain its integrity as art while doing so. Writers and artists, as Shelly observed, can serve as the “unacknowledged legislators” of humanity, but not in the sense of advocating specific political programs, but rather in shaping the underlying vision and values by which humanity comprehends itself at particular points in time and history.
     The way in which I attempted to avoid the pitfall of falling into didacticism or propaganda was to try to let the characters within the novel live for themselves, and to let their world live for itself. Sartorius, one of the principal characters, semi-autobiographical, is written as a relatively weak character, not imposing his will on the world and the other characters, but relatively afloat and adrift within it. In this I learned from the work of Scott in the Waverly novels.  Waverly in Scott’s novels is a relatively weak and passive young man, a character adrift, rather than a Napoleon imposing his will on history. But this is actually a strength in a historical novel, in that a weak character adrift can serve as a marker for the larger historical currents that sweep him along, and his drift can thus paint a larger portrait of the society and historical forces at work around him. Sartorius is a rather weak and ineffective intellectual, verging on failure and contemplating suicide as he turns fifty, but as such he is ripe to be “swept away” by the hurricane of forces of our modern world, including globalization of every aspect of human existence, and by being so, chart, as a “weather balloon” adrift, the dominant currents of our globalized social atmospherics. As such a “balloon” he also undergoes the constraints and contradictions of Henry James’ “balloon of experience.”  in negotiating the transitions from realism to the realm of the freer imagination, embodied in Book II, “Spiritus Mundi: The Romance,” romance in the Hawthornian sense, that is.
Glenda: I’m a writer who loves to research. However; such an undertaking as Spiritus Mundi makes my head spin thinking about searching out parliaments and cultures so as to maintain factual integrity. For instance, your main character determines to promote an English style Parliament. You must have done an immense amount of research on such a style of governance. The main character’s goal is to bring such a style of governance and encourage democracy in the United Nations.
Can you give us an outline of your research methods for so such complex entities? Did you get to set in on sessions of Parliament?
Robert: Well, in terms of models, the closer model for the concept of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly would be that of the European Parliament of the European Union, rather than the British Parliament, though the British parliament has long been perceived as the mother of all modern legislatures and parliaments. Working as a professor of International Law in Beijing and also with UNIDO, I naturally had to do an immense amount of research and reading on the working of both the United Nations and the European Union. I also studied at the University of Heidelberg in Germany for two years and during that time learned a great deal about the European Union. So you could say that I was already a “Good European” by the time I approached the wider problem of Globalization in my work in International Law in China. The European Parliament has in turn inspired many regional incarnations, such as the Pan-African Parliament of the African Union, the Parlatino, or Latin-American Parliament and the Arab Parliament of the Arab League. These are already working realities in the various regions of the world, so it was only a matter of time before more and more people would recognize the logic of extending the concept of representative democracy to the global level of the United Nations system as a whole.
So, yes, an immense amount of research would be necessary to embrace this dimension of Spiritus Mundi, but I had done it in my professional life as a Professor of International Law a decade before writing the novel. An equal, or greater amount of research was required for the World Literature dimension of Spiritus Mundi, but luckily I inherited a great deal of this from my Ph.D. studies in Comparative Literature at U.C. Berkeley and its follow-on.
But in the practical sense of the novelist writing a novel, I can tell you that it takes an immense amount of very concrete research to bring to life the concrete details of the world in which the characters must live and move. I had to do a great deal of research on things like the streets, building, parks and milieu of the dozens of cities and nations across the world in which the action of Spiritus Mundi takes place, from Beijing to New York, to London, Moscow, Africa, Jerusalem, Iran—the novel is rooted in a tenacious realism, though it later blossoms beyond it. In that I can say I have become a child of our age in harnessing the power of the Internet to craft the concrete details and dimensions of environments around the world. “Googling” and the Wikipedia have been invaluable in being comprehensive and instantaneously available as I composed on my laptop, so I think the modern writer has resources for practical research available that would awe the most erudite of our forbearers. True, the Internet has the defect of perhaps being “a million miles wide and an inch thick” at its surface, but it also has developed far deeper resources if you learn how to find them and have a good education going into it.
Glenda: I cannot leave out that Spiritus Mundi carries a romantic and even sexual component. You related to me in one conversation that the romance is a natural, human component of your story. There is also a conflict with Sartorius’ son Jack. For other writers, can you relate the importance you found in presenting this side of your main character into the mix of political and international intrigue?
Robert: Well, I grew up as a writer very much in the tradition of D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce, both of whom embraced the central importance of sexuality in human consciousness and existence in their works and worldviews. We are all living intellectually in the wake of the Freudian and Darwinian revolutions, and the “sexual revolution” in popular culture since the Sixties. Our sexuality is the life blood of our lives and of our consciousness, not to mention our unconsciousness, collective or individual. In my view of sexuality, common with D. H. Lawrence and C.G. Jung, sexuality is intimately connected with the spiritual dimension of human existence as well—sexuality can alternatively lead to dehumanization and animalization of our beings but sexuality can also lead just as naturally in the direction of the humanization of our natural and biological impulses, their civilizing, and even to their spiritualization, as Jung observed.
     In regards to sexuality I take as a starting point that it is a natural part of our lives and should be positively embraced in all dimensions of our existence—that it is a necessary and wholesome part of our individual and collective mental health. That is not to deny that it has its chaotic, selfish, destructive and socially disruptive side as well, which society has difficulty managing, which it always must, but it is important that it should not be irrationally repressed in the individual or the society at large, as Freud and Jung have taught us.
     Thus, as the saying goes, “War is too important to be left to the Generals,” we can also observe that sexuality is too important to be left to doctors, psychologists, biologists or “sexologists.” It is the living root of our individual selves and of our spirituality as well. As such the sexual lives of the characters in fiction are a vital dimension of their beings, and a vital dimension for judging the viability, mental health and value of the worldviews of their authors. Hollywood and Washington have long judged their projects asking the question “Will it play in Peoria?” and writers similarly have tested their worldviews by asking “Will it play between the sheets?” In Spiritus Mundi sexuality is linked to the spiritual lives of the characters, but also to the “life force” which drives human evolution and the collective unconscious of the human race, necessary to its survival. The progressive humanization, civilization and spiritualization of our most primal sexual animal impulses in the forms of love, family, community and communion is the story of the progress of our individual lives in microcosm and of our civilizational lives in macrocosm.
Glenda: Finally, can you give us a look inside the man Robert Sheppard?
Robert:  Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!—as I recall one your fellow Kansans once sagely remarked on a certain occasion.  Or I can have my doctor send you my latest X-ray if you like! ……I don’t know how to answer such a question exactly—-“the man Robert Sheppard” continues to be, like his writing “a work in progress” with many contradictions, frustrations, inadequacies, irrationalities and inscrutable impulses coexisting with and ever evolving beside and within the socially and literarily observable persona. The ancient Greeks had to cut into stone in their temples the admonition “Know Thyself” precisely because it was so hard, perhaps impossible to accomplish—we knowing ourselves ever “but in a glass darkly.” Perhaps sometime in the future I will meet and get to know that man behind the curtain, “the man Robert Sheppard”—–it is likely we may become friends—–it would be natural—–after all we have a lot in common, and I may even learn a lot from him if we can somehow learn to rub along and tolerate each other—- we may even, at the end of our little dramatic offering, ascend in a homeward-bound balloon together, or as in the ending another film, as in Bogie’s Cassablanca stroll off into the mist-filled night arm-in-arm together, with one or the other observing “You know, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!”
Oh, how I wish that I could have had this interview on a public stage with Robert, shaking hands with my dear friend and getting to know him “through the glass (a bit less) darkly.”  That is one of the downfalls of written interviews, I ask the question, he answers the questions I ask, and I would love to ask so much more about the answers. This is true of all authors I interview, but it also leaves my readers with a chance to desire more knowledge of the interviewee. Reading Spiritus Mundi by Robert Sheppard reveals the intricate workings of a very philosophical mind. As he said there is a fine line that an author must walk when writing fiction with a mission in the story. I’m reminded of Plato’s dialogues which are today left for us often to understand through someone else interpretation. The thing is that Plato did write dialogues which today we might call short stories. That does not mean that we cannot come to some understanding of Plato’s way of reasoning. Perhaps he didn’t think he knew himself any better than Robert or me for that matter.
This form allows me to introduce Robert Sheppard, his book Spiritus Mundi, and a glimpse of his passions. I hope you enjoyed reading this ‘dialogue’. Then you can come to your conclusions by reading Robert’s book Spiritus Mundi.
Please find links to Robert’s website and to his book below.
Spiritus Mundi Book I, The Novel:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303856
Spiritus Mundi Book II: The Romance: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303798
                    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CGSDN5I
Spiritus Mundi Book I: The Novel on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CIGJFGO Spiritus Mundi Book II: The Romance on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CGM8BZG

Author interview with non-fiction, science-fiction and fantasy writer and poet Robert Sheppard

Celebrated Literary Interviewer Morgen Bailey

Celebrated Literary Interviewer Morgen Bailey

Morgen Bailey

Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction, science-fiction and fantasy author and poet Robert Sheppard. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.

Morgen: Hello, Robert. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?

Robert SheppardRobert: Writing has always been my personal calling. I have done many other things such as law, business, teaching and political activism, but I have usually regarded them as secondary to my primary mission in life of writing and being a citizen of the republic of letters. I began by reading the great authors, secondarily in terms of academic study, but primarily in terms of personal communion with the great minds of our human civilization. The inspiration for writing Spiritus Mundi was threefold: First, the culmination of a lifetime of reading and self-exploration; Second, a desire to make a contribution to World Literature in an era of literary and social globalization by sharing beauty and my personal vision and insight with others; Third, Spiritus Mundi was written with the practical goal of popularizing a specific global social reform, the furtherance of global democracy through the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, a movement I had been involved with for the last ten years.

Morgen: Given the introduction, you write so many genres. Is there one that you generally write and have you considered other genres?

Robert: I began writing poetry that was my first and longest involvement in writing. Spiritus Mundi, my modern epic novel contains a large body of embedded poetry, as in many books such as Dr. Zhivago. I have also written short stories and taken a stab at a screenplay. I enjoy the broad canvas of the novel, and it has been the dominant genre of out times for reaching the broader public as well as the community of letters, particularly when adapted to film. I aim aspects of my novels at both audiences, the illiterati as well as the literati!

Morgen: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Robert: A great novel is never reducible to a paraphraseable message. The ultimate “message” is to enjoy the energy and beauty of life, including its enhancement through art and the engaged experience of reading. That said, however, my novel encourages the reader’s development as a whole person, rational and irrational, by bringing to life myth, spirituality and cultural tradition. Spiritus Mundi, nonetheless, is a peculiar book in having a particular social message and program for our era of globalization, namely overcoming our “clash of civilizations” by actively collaborating in the construction of a common world culture, including a newly emerging World Literature to complement national literatures, and the further democratic evolution of our system of global governance through the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, a kind of globalized advisory version of the EU European Parliament. But a novel should be first and foremost a work of art and beauty, and only secondarily a medium for the transmission of extrinsic messages, ideological or otherwise.

Morgen: What have you had published to-date?

Spiritus Mundi Book Cover Draft 5 ThumbnailRobert: I have published dozens of professional works as a professor of International Law and of World and Comparative Literature, as well as dozens of poems. Spiritus Mundi, which is actually two books, Book One, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, and Book Two, Spiritus Mundi, the Romance, with a greater tendency towards myth, fantasy, science-fiction and so-called “Magical Realism” is my first great prose effort.

Morgen: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Robert: I would advise writers generally to engage deeply with life and explore its problems, joys, beauties, conundrums, humor and pains in their works. Shakespeare’s advice, “To thine own self be true” is ever a good starting point, but “Which One?” and “For What and For Whom?” remain part of the question. I would advise those who aspire to great art to engage with their own literary tradition, hopefully without drowning in it, and in this era of globalization to take a wider perspective engaging with the multiple traditions of our wider world. This may even be good marketing advice, in addition to being good humanist and artistic advice, in the emerging era of the globally marketable e-Book and film.

Morgen: Why should a reader buy your book?

Robert: For the sheer pleasure of it!——first and foremost for the enjoyment of reading it. Second, hopefully for some insight into life and the world that may make your life richer and fuller. Also to understand the forces shaping the modern world and how we may work together to make it better and avoid catastrophe.

Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?

Robert: Far too much! I would really rather be writing works of importance, but without the marketing machine of a major publisher or established reputation behind me I am doomed to try to become known and appreciated by my own efforts and promotion. For a lesser-known writer this seems to be a necessary evil. Though writing is a solitary profession, we are still nonetheless social animals and we writers need to be known in order to be read and appreciated. “Work without Hope” of any recognition or appreciation quickly turns to despair. The new writer has to bear this doleful burden until one has a readership.

Morgen: Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?

Robert: Not yet. Prizes and awards are definitely valuable in gaining reputation and readership and may well make a writer’s career in the narrow sense. At the same time it would be healthy to realize that many of the prizes, including the Nobel, are highly imperfect and are distorted by political, commercial and reputational interests, or other arbitrary factors not related to intrinsic literary or artistic excellence.

Morgen: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?

Robert: I write mostly at home in a peaceful room alone, preferably with a couch on which to lie while giving my imagination free run when away from the keyboard. Once I am into a work I am mostly oblivious to my surroundings and just need to be left alone.

Morgen: Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?

Robert: I never used one. I think my egotism draws me in the direction of seeking reknown and recognition in my own self. A Mark Twain or George Eliot may do me better by creating a public persona in their real life as well as on paper.

Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?

Robert: Not at present. They can be very useful by freeing the writer from the business and promotional end of publishing and letting him write. Too often they are just another gatekeeper looking to collect his toll fee by reason of selling access to the traditional publisher who absurdly will not deal with the author directly in the closed system that has existed. The e-Book Revolution is breaking down these dominant positions of control and requiring greater actual service and added-value.

Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?

Robert: I have a sequel to Spiritus Mundi underway taking many of the old characters in new directions.

Morgen: Do you manage to write every day?

Robert: Normally, if extrinsic work or travel doesn’t take all my time or energy away. Some days you reach a stopping place and do something else, like reading or other work instead. I don’t need to force it, but it will come around if I set myself down to try.

Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?

Robert: It has not been a major problem for me since I have had ongoing projects underway. If it comes up you just recharge your batteries and try again later. As a deeper psychological problem it hasn’t hit me seriously yet.

Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?

Robert: Usually I don’t begin with a master plot but start with a general idea or improvisation. Then as things develop I may come up with a strategic plan to move thing forward.

Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

Robert: Anything and everything. I don’t have any one method—-sometimes the inspirational seeds for the characters are based on personal friends or acquaintances, sometimes on public figures in the news, sometimes drawn from the great classical works of fiction or out of thin air. Then the characters evolve and take life under your pen as the plot and situations evolve.

Morgen: Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?

Robert: My first readers would normally be literary friends. Normally I don’t share or discuss the work while it is in progress as I keep my energy flowing onto the page and feel I would lose it if diverted into explaining the work to others. When the work is relatively complete I will value the impressions of persons of good and cultivated judgment.

Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?

Robert: I do a lot of editing and rewriting, or writing over. Often the first attempt is crude and needs to be refined and reshaped. Also, one’s ideas will evolve as one writes, requiring reformulation and re-editing of what went before. New things are constantly added to the old.

Morgen: Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?

Robert: Nowadays, of course all writing must be digital in preparation for publication. When I first started writing I disliked typewriters and computers, preferred to write poems in longhand and prose in notebooks. Now, of practical necessity I write and compose all prose on the computer. I still write almost all poems by hand, however, and even many prose passages will begin as longhand entries in notebooks when the moment of inspiration hits me, later to be transcribed and revised on the computer.

Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?

Robert: Third Person, omniscient or restricted is, of course the natural first recourse. In Spiritus Mundi I used all of the points of view by interspersing third person narrative with extensive “Blog Journals” in which multiple characters told the story in their own voice and person, recorded in their blogs.

In Spiritus Mundi’s Chapter 28, The Volcano’s Underworld (Mexico City)–Theatro Magico (The Magic Theater) I experimented with telling the story in the Second Person, addressed to the reader, where the protagonist Sartorius undergoes three mescaline-inducedd hallucinatory experiences in a “Magic Theater” and in which I wanted to impel the reader into undergoing the immediacy of direct and uncanny surreal experience.

Morgen: What do you like to read?

Robert: Anything and everything good. I spent most of my life reading the great classics of world literature—Tolstoy, Kafka, Thomas Mann, Yeats, Eliot, Homer, he Bible, Dante, etc. As a Professor of Comparative and World Literature I also read the non-Western classics, the Ramayana, Tale of Genji, Dream of the Red Chamber, Thousand and One Nights, etc. More recently I have tried to become more contemporary, current and popular in my reading, trying to read bestsellers as well as “the Greats,” Jodi Picoult as well as Pushkin!

Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?

Robert: Of course when I am not writing I do an almost equal amount of reading, and of course the necessity of working, which as a professor takes you back again to reading and writing, as well as speaking. I have travelled all over the world, another escape that leads back to writing. For health I do a lot of swimming, weight lifting and some tennis. I love music, films and the theater. And of course friendship, family, love and, yes, sex.

Morgen:  Where can we find out about you and your work?

Robert: You can follow these links to the Spiritus Mundi websites and blogs:

Morgen:  Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Robert: I would also encourage everyone to support the effort to create a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, a globalized version of the EU European Parliament formed as a new elected organ of the UN to supplement the existing Security Council and General Assembly. This will serve to bring the democratic process to global governance and international affairs. See: http://en.unpacampaign.org/index.php

Morgen: Thank you, Robert.

I then invited Robert to include an extract of his writing and this is from ‘Publication With Interview’…

After an hour, Terry invited Sartorius to the “Green Room” backstage, a kind of private room where the performers, their boyfriends and girlfriends, the musicians, groupies and hangers on would get together, talk, laugh and entertain themselves away from the public eye. They rambled on, talking at random and becoming better friends, and Teresa introduced him to many of the other performers, with whom they joked and shared Tequila, Mescal and the occasional snort of cocaine or drag of marijuana. Terry leafed from time to time through the pages of an old French quarto, the title of which Sartorius leaned over to take in: “La Vie Militaire, politique, et privée de Chevalier d’Eon.” Then they were joined by Oskarnello, the midget drummer, who sat across from them and lit up a hand-rolled brownish cigarillo, inhaling and exhaling, his face soon shrouded in an unmistakable cloud of misty hashish.

“Your piece was fabulous! Really magic!” blurted Sartorius to Tiresias, everyone bubbling over with narcotic giggles.

“You don’t know the half of it!” pronounced Oskarnello from within his cloud of mist, “……………Terry and I also do a magic act together, laced with gender-bender levitations and transformations behind black velvet!”

“Really?……….I really must see it!” effused Sartorius.

“Watch this,” intoned Tiresias as he held up his crystal glass of wine over the table, “Oskar….you’re on!” Then Oskar let out a high shriek that whined into the inaudible register and the glass began to vibrate, then shake, and finally burst and shattered, showering its contents across the table.

“Bravo!” shouted everyone, along with Sartorius, who added “……….when can we see the act?”

“Well, we really haven’t done it for a couple of years—maybe we’ll do a revival, eh Oskarovich?…….” he replied.

“The sots don’t really appreciate us, you see………..”  explained Oskarnello,  “…………..those who sneer at us, and sneer at themselves, for paying to let us fool them, what they never see is the yearning. If it were a religious yearning, a yearning after God, a higher prestidigitation in a sacred place—-well no one would dream of disrespecting that.  But us, no—our kind of a show, our show is a yearning—–Yes!—–a yearning of the same deepest stuff—– Yes!……..but they see it as only after a miracle, only to contradict the given world—that, they hold it in contempt……..they are looking just for the trick you see, and are sure they will find it just beyond their fingertips……… if we angle for awe——–for the true miracle we live in——– they refuse us………worth a horselaugh…….. followed by a sneer———a sneer in the mirror, put paid with the price of a ticket.”

“Yes, tragically all too true…..”  lamented Tiresias, “…………..we are to our own chagrin disciples, incarnations if you will, of the Greatest Magician…………………now when He created the universe he didn’t say ‘Now for my first trick I’m gonna make light’…………..He said ‘Let there be light!’ and the Big Bang unleashed itself, allowed light into what had been Nothing and Nothingness, and the light congealed itself into matter and anti-matter, infinite hadrons, and leptons and quarks and worlds—suns and galaxies effusing out into a Virgin Time rushing forward to inflate a timeless void. But when we minor Magicians try to bring our bit of the miracle back into that Something, that Everything He created—renewing contact with its original stuff,  we get the sneers and not awe. You notice that in the act we work in the dark, and under a spotlight, and we only allow the light, like the sun on the earth, to light up one hemisphere of the real at a time, either the male or the female remains in the dark.  And it is only at the dénouement, the orgasmo-climax, that the flash-bulb of apocalypse and revelation uncovers that they are the two halves are of the one sphere.  Like God, you always have to work with the light—-make it do only what you want it to do………It’s all about the light—–you control the light and you control the effect—-a magician’s perfect mirror must send everything back to the eye, and a magician’s perfect black velvet must send nothing back—-the big bang of revelation set off against the black hole of mystery.”

Then they rambled on in this vein, more and more incoherent as the evening dragged onwards, talking at random and halting to introduce new friends as they incessantly came and left, making their entrances and exits, and with whom they joked and shared additional Tequila, Mescal and the occasional snort of cocaine or drag of marijuana. Then they made their way back to the open dance floor and enjoyed themselves.

Towards four in the morning, Sartorius was oozing Mescal and alcohol from every pore and had danced with Maria and Teresa alternately for hours. Teresa pressed her body close to his and stroked his ear, whispering into it: “Roberto!—-I think you are ready for something special! I don’t take everybody there—it is a special place only for special people. You have to be the right kind of person at the right time——and be ready for something new—it is a private club and you need a pass to be admitted. Here—-this is your pass—I have signed you in as my special guest—let’s get Maria and Oskar and grab a taxi.” –He handed Sartorius a card with the drawing of a magician in top-hat and tails levitating a beautiful girl over whom he passed a hoop, upon it. The name of the club was printed on the top: Teatro Magico: For Madmen Only!—-(Private Club: Admission by Membership or Personal Invitation Only).

*

And a synopsis from… Spiritus Mundi, consisting of Spiritus Mundi, the Novel—Book I, and Spiritus Mundi, the Romance—Book II.

Book I’s espionage-terror-political-religious thriller-action criss-crosses the globe from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action, deep and realistic characters and surreal adventures, while Book II dialates the setting and scope into a fantasy (though still rooted in the real) adventure where the protagonists embark on a quest to the realms of Middle Earth and its Crystal Bead Game and through a wormhole to the Council of the Immortals in the Amphitheater in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy in search of the crucial Silmaril Crystal, and to plead for the continuance of the human race in the face of threatened extinction from a nuclear World War III, all followed by a triple-somersault thriller ending in which a common garden-variety terrorist attack is first uncovered by MI6 and the CIA as the opening gambit a Greatpower Game of States threatening World War III and then, incredibly, as the nexus of a Time Travel conspiracy involving an attempt by fascist forces of the 23rd Century to alter a benign World History by a time-travelling raid on their past and our present to provoke that World War III, foiled by the heroic efforts of the democratic 23rd Century world government, the Senate of the United States of Earth, to hunt down the fascist interlopers before their history is irrevocably altered for evil.

When activist Robert Sartorius, leading a global campaign to create a European Parliament-style world-wide United Nations Parliamentary Assembly presses the proposal in New York on his old friend the UN Secretary-General and is rebuffed due to the hostile pressure of the conservative American administration, his Committee resolves to fight back by launching a celebrity-driven Bono-Geldof-Band Aid/Live 8-style “People Power” media campaign and telethon spearheaded by rock superstars Isis and Osiris and former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to mobilize global public support and pressure in alliance with the Occupy Wall Street Movements worldwide. The Blogs of Sartorius, activist Eva Strong and Committee Chairman Andreas Sarkozy reveal the campaign’s working struggle, their tangled love affairs, a loss of faith, attempted suicide, reconciliation of father and son after divorce, and recovery of personal love and faith.

Things fall apart as the idealists’ global crusade is infiltrated by a cell of jihadist terrorists using it as a cover, then counter-infiltrated by CIA agent Jack McKinsey and British MI6 agent Etienne Dearlove. A cat-and-mouse game of espionage and intrigue ensues pitting them against the Chinese MSS espionage network allied with the Iranian Quds Force crossing Beijing, London, Moscow, Washington and Jerusalem unleashing an uncontrollable series of events which sees the American Olympic Track and Field Team bombed on an airplane in London, uncovers a secret conspiracy of China, Russia and Iran to jointly seize the oil reserves of the Middle-East, and witnesses Presidents Clinton and Carter taken hostage with Sartorius, McKinsey, Eva and other activists at a Jerusalem telethon rally cut short by the explosion of a concealed atomic device in a loaned Chinese Terracotta Warrior, then flown by capturing terrorists to Qom, Iran as “human shields” to deter a retaliatory nuclear attack.

In Book II, Spiritus Mundi, the Romance they encounter Iran’s Supreme Leader in Qom as the world teeters on the brink of nuclear confrontation and World War III, while mysterious events unfold leading Sartorius and McKinsey from their captivity in the underground nuclear facilities of Qom into a hidden neo-mythic dimension that takes them to a vast ocean and land at the center of the world, Middle Earth, Inner Shambhala, and to involvement in a mysterious Castalian “Crystal Bead Game” linked to the destiny of the human race on earth. They then embark on a quest for the Silmaril, or Missing Seed Crystal to the central island of Omphalos in the Great Central Sea in the middle of the globe, aided by Goethe, the Chinese Monkey King, Captain Nemo, the African God-Hero Ogun, and a Sufi mystic they traverse a ‘wormhole’ at the center of the earth guarded by ‘The Mothers’ and the fallen angel tribe of the Grigori (Genesis 6:1-4) which leads the way to critical meeting of the “Council of the Immortals” at the Black Hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy to determine the final fate of the human species. The heroes battle and overcome the treacherous opposition of Mephisto and his satanic subaltern Mundus through their Underworld and Otherworld adventures and successfully plead the cause of the continuation of the human species before the Immortals, returning with the critical Silmaril Crystal. resolving the Crystal Bead Game and thereby inspiring through the Archangel Gabriel a dream in the mind of Iran’s Supreme Leader which brings a new Revelation causing him to release the hostages and an end the crisis. China and Russia stand down from aiding Iran in seizing the Mid-East oil reserves, but in a treacherous blow the Chinese instead utilize their forward-positioned armies to attack their former ally Russia and seize Siberia with its large oil and gas reserves instead. President Barret Osama, America’s newly-elected first black President then invites Russia, Japan and South Korea to join NATO and together they succeed in expelling the Chinese from Siberia and usher in a new Eurasian and global balance of power and a New World Order.

Rock Superstar Osiris meanwhile, after undertaking a narcissistic Messianic mission in the wake of the Jerusalem atomic blast is dramatically assassinated on live world-wide television on Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa by a disillusioned follower. His wife and rock-star partner Isis then leads a spiritual movement to reconcile and unite the clashing religions and catalyze a common global spiritual Renaissance through a Global Progressive Spiritual Alliance which seeks to construct an Inter-faith Temple on the ruins of the atomic blast in Jerusalem. In counter-reaction to the cataclysmic events the world finally implements Sartorius’ crusade for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, but not before Sartorius has himself has died, Moses-like of a heart attack while helping to foil a metaconspiracy mediated by Time Travel in which a fascist agent from the 23rd Century who has time-transited back to our time to alter a benign history by causing WWIII and thus preventing the evolution of a democratic world government, the United States of Earth, which follows him through time and nabs him just in the “nick of time” to prevent Armageddon. The book ends with the opening ceremony of the UN Parliamentary Assembly which is attended in Sartorius’ name by his widow Eva Strong, whom Sartorius had fallen in love with and married in the course of the novel, and by their son Euphy, newborn after Sartorius’ death. They are joined in cinematic climax at the ceremony by newly chosen UN Secretary-General Clinton, President Osama and UN Parliamentary Assembly Committee Chairman Andreas Sarkozy who have just received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in creation of the world’s first world parliamentary assembly within the United Nations, bringing together the representative voices of the peoples of the world in face-to-face assembly and dialogue for the first time in world history.

**

Robert Sheppard is the author of the acclaimed dual novel Spiritus Mundi,in two parts, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, Book I and Spiritus Mundi the Romance, Book II. The acclaimed “global novel” features espionage-terror-political-religious thriller-action criss-crossing the globe involving MI6. the CIA and Chinese MSS Intelligence as well as a “People Power” campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly on the model of the European Parliament, with action moving from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem while presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action and surreal adventures. It also contains the unfolding sexual, romantic and family relationships of many of its principal and secondary characters, and a significant dimension of spiritual searching through “The Varieties of Religious Experience.” It contains also significant discussions of World Literature, including Chinese, Indian, Western and American literature, and like Joyce’s Ulysses, it incorporates a vast array of stylistic approaches as the story unfolds. Book II, Spiritus Mundi the Romance, dilates the setting, scope and continuing action as a Romance of fantasy adventure where the protagonists, still following the original action of Book I, embark on a quest to the realms of Middle Earth and its Crystal Bead Game in search of the Silmaril Missing Seed Crystal and thence through a wormhole to a “Council of the Immortals” in an Amphitheater in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy to plead for the continuance of the human race in the face of threatened extinction from a nuclear World War III involving the confrontation and military showdown between NATO, China, Russia and Iran unfolded from the espionage events of Book I. The contemporary epic culminates with the first convening of the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, a world-scale version of the European Parliament installed as a new organ of the United Nations.

Dr. Sheppard presently serves as a Professor of International Law and World Literature at Peking University, Northeastern University and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, and has previously served as a Professor of International Law and MBA professor at Tsinghua University, Renmin People’s University, the China University of Politics and Law and at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. Having studied Law, Comparative Literature and politics at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph. D.) Program in Comparative Literature), Northridge, Tübingen, Heidelberg, the People’s College and San Francisco, (BA, MA, JD), he additionally has been active as professor of International Trade, Private International Law, and Public International Law from 1993 to 1998 at Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Graduate School (CASS), and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Since 2000 he has served as a Senior Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Beijing and has authored numerous papers on the democratic reform of the United Nations system.

***

About robertalexandersheppard

Robert Sheppard , Author, Poet & Novelist Pushcart Prize fof Literature 2014 Nominee Professor of World and Comparative Literature Professor of International Law Senior Associate, Committee for a Democratic United Nations (KDUN) E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com Robert Sheppard is the author of the acclaimed dual novel Spiritus Mundi, nominated for the prestigious 2014 Pushcart Prize for Literature in two parts, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, Book I and Spiritus Mundi the Romance, Book II. The acclaimed “global novel” features espionage-terror-political-religious-thriller action criss-crossing the contemporary world involving MI6, the CIA and Chinese MSS Intelligence as well as a "People Power" campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly on the model of the European Parliament, with action moving from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem while presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action and surreal adventures. It also contains the unfolding sexual, romantic and family relationships of many of its principal and secondary characters, and a significant dimension of spiritual searching through "The Varieties of Religious Experience." It contains also significant discussions of World Literature, including Chinese, Indian, Western and American literature, and like Joyce's Ulysses, it incorposates a vast array of stylistic approaches as the story unfolds. Dr. Sheppard presently serves as a Professor of International Law and World Literature at Peking University, Northeastern University and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, and has previously served as a Professor of International Law and MBA professor at Tsinghua University, Renmin People’s University, the China University of Politics and Law and at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. Having studied Law, Comparative Literature and politics at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph. D.Program in Comparative Literature), Northridge, Tübingen, Heidelberg, the People’s College and San Francisco, (BA, MA, JD), he additionally has been active as professor of International Trade, Private International Law, and Public International Law from 1993 to 1998 at Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Graduate School (CASS), and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Since 2000 he has served as a Senior Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Beijing and has authored numerous papers on the democratic reform of the United Nations system.
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One Response to “ASK ROBERT SHEPPARD” AUTHOR INTERVIEW AND Q & A SITE NOW AVAILABLE ON GOODREADS!—PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINATED SPIRITUS MUNDI IS NOW ON WATTPAD!—READ AUTHOR ROBERT SHEPPARD’S INTERVIEWS BY GLENDA FRALIN AND MORGEN BAILEY NOW!

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