It could have been dismissed as forgetfulness or wasteful thinking but Jewel, a science teacher, is not taking this particular feeling lightly. Not even the sceptical remark of her close girlfriend, Diane, is able to dissuade her from paying attention to this ‘out-of-body’ experience. The more her mind seesaws from her conscious state to realms on Earth and beyond, the more she gets to see, admire, and embrace life from a wider perspective. This divine alteration alongside physical observations finally point her to a sad truth about John, the man she’d loved for more than twenty years; the one who is the father of her children.
This novella is delivered with well-structured lines (some of which I find quite poetic). Told from the first person point of view, Payne tactfully reveals the emotions of her main character, Jewel, and how she’s able to relate with other characters as the story unfolds. This is a very important step in character development from the first person’s as it helps the reader decide who the protagonist really is and why there should be a special attachment to him/her. The environment and places mentioned in the book point to a story that takes its roots in our contemporary world. Because of length and intent, Payne has cut down on the description of the weather and terrestrial activities/existence. This would have come across as superfluous if stretched beyond what is already written. What you don’t find by way of storytelling, you find in the dialogue. For me, this is an intelligent move. It gets the reader more involved than distanced from the narrative. I’m a sucker for well-knit endings. Jewel’s note of goodbye took me by surprise. It’s filled with a strong emotion. That’s thumbs up. And I mean it. In Illimitable Beauty, Payne depicts a picture of freedom and subtle happiness beyond pain and disappointment. She puts poetic justice in its proper perspective and covertly warns that truth that cannot be kept away forever…not even in solitary confinement. I will be recommending it to my friends.
Skywalker Payne Interview:
Thanks, Uzoma Okoroafor, for reviewing my book and giving me a chance to answer a few questions about it.
What’s your first major writing experience? I wrote my first, very crude, book when I was in third grade. It was written on construction paper with illustration. On the back, I had a short questionnaire addressed to my family members asking them what they thought of my book. I’ve been writing ever since, I began a diary in fifth grade after reading Ann Frank’s Diary. It’s taken me so long to get published because I did not handle rejection well.
How did you come up with the idea of Illimitable Beauty? The idea of a woman leaving her body came to me over 15 years ago – I put the slow in slow writer. I wrote several versions of the story, and at one point even saw it becoming a novel. Then I put it aside, got married, got a degree in storytelling, we moved around, the next thing I knew, I was in nursing school. My first nursing job was with the Indian Health Service and after a year or so, I began writing again, over a year writing a screenplay. I cannot remember what prompted me to return to Jewel’s story, but I did so in the past couple of years. The story went through many rewrites, submitted to magazines, rejected, more rewrites until I submitted it to Amazon. They rejected it but provided a link to their Direct Publishing. The choice was spending more money submitting to magazines – and getting rejected – or publishing my e-book, with no up-front costs. My husband read the story and chose the title and designed the cover.
In your book, you mentioned an “out-of-body” experience. Do you believe that there is a connection between the physical and spiritual realms? I’m a practicing Buddhist so the question quite simply is yes. But, I’ve not had experiences like Jewel’s.
What type of books do you like to read? I primarily like to read books about Buddhism now. As a teen I read a lot of the great classic writers, I read Crime and Punishment before I was 16. Now, I read a variety of fiction they comes across my eye, from Chekov, to the interesting stories and poetry of WordPress bloggers.
You self-published Illimitable Beauty. With your next book on the way, would you like to be represented by an agency/publisher? I’m already submitting my book The Ultimate Wonder to agents. I think it’s really marketable and have just started submitting queries to agents. The book is a collection of rewritten world folklore, original stories, and commentary on the theme of death.
Aside from writing and trying to get your book published, do you have any other major project for the year? Well, that’s a lot. I wrote over forty poems and forty haikus last year which I want to refine. I’m researching for another story, and yes do want to find a publisher. I have a day job as a school nurse and a loving husband, so no other major projects.