My fiction writing is in part driven by a desire to explore some underlying theme or social issue. The plot and characters are the means chosen to explore the theme and or issues.
In the case of Serpent Rising, I had been dwelling on the fact that people have a difficult time distinguishing between what is true and what is false. One of the outcomes of this difficulty is that people are vulnerable to being manipulated by lies and falsehood. This vulnerability has clearly been used and exploited throughout human history and has allowed misinformation and propaganda to be utilized to suit the agendas of powerful groups and individuals.
I was developing this theme well before the notion of “fake news” became so much a part of our cultural conversation. The more I thought about this and researched it, the more convinced I became that I needed to tell a story to account for this fundamental difficulty—why are we unable to distinguish fact from fiction, truth from falsehood? The expression, “The truth shall set you free,” took on added significance as I asked myself, free from what? Freedom from ignorance, freedom from manipulation by those who seek to withhold the truth or to peddle falsehood seemed the obvious answer.
As the seeds of a story began to germinate, I envisioned a grand and deliberate conspiracy. Since I am a big fan of The Da Vinci Code and realize how a blend of fact and fiction can be woven into an intriguing conspiracy story, this provided me with a basic structure. There were plenty of examples to draw from history to construct a great battle between the polarities of truth and falsehood, light and darkness that extended back to the dawn of civilization. This became the great War of the Two Serpents. The champions for the forces of light became factions of Lightbringers, warriors for truth, suppressed and beaten by the powers of darkness who sought control over the masses.
The plot then needed a champion to represent the Lightbringers. I like flawed characters and I wanted the main character to be female. Part of this has to do with historical suppression of the divine feminine. As a result, my protagonist is a seriously flawed twenty-one-year-old heroine.
As the wheels spun in the creative part of my brain, the character of Serena Mendez, flawed by PTSD, traumatized by a failed initiation into a secret order of Lightbringers was born. She needed to discover who she really was, to meet her full potential, and to embrace her destiny. This required a process of discovery and transformation which fit right into the narrative structure of the hero’s journey (in this case, the heroine’s journey).
I constructed her character as a member of the Candelaria sect of Lightbringers or Luminarians. Candelarias carry the flame of truth to dispel the darkness. In the novel, this sect was long thought to have been extinguished, by the enemies of truth. This set up the suspense as she is pursued by dark forces while trying to complete her training. I am intrigued by myth and mysticism so I made sure to incorporate these into the story. What started as an idea became a two-book series called The Saga of Venom and Flame.
Serena Mendez is haunted and she is hunted...
... Haunted by trauma—terrified and scarred as a young child, when a secret initiation into an ancient order of Lightbringers went horribly wrong. Unaware of the power latent in her blood, she is haunted by a life out of sync with her true identity. At twenty-one, she is abrasive, jobless, in debt, and addicted to sedatives. Haunted by her past, she knows nothing of her destiny.
... Hunted by an enemy—ruthless and powerful, a Brotherhood that has been pitted against the Luminarian Sects for thousands of years. An ancient struggle continues—The War of the Two Serpents—a saga extending back to the dawn of civilization, to the time of the second breaking, when the elite sought dominion over the masses. Those serving truth and light opposed these dark forces. In return they were persecuted, burned as witches, suppressed and nearly defeated by the powers of darkness.
But the flame was not extinguished.
An old Navajo dream-walker had a plan to open the seven chakras mystically binding Serena’s power. To fulfill her true destiny, to unleash the latent power within her blood, Serena journeys to six continents where she uncovers the truth of who she is, and what she must do.
A warrior stirs, a Lightbringer. She is Serena Mendez. She is awakening. She is a Candelaria…
Serpent Rising is a story of unfulfilled destiny, discovery, transformation, and courage to embrace the truth.
“Author Victor Acquista has opened a pandora’s box of adventure in his new breath-taking thriller, Serpent Rising. I was swept away from the first page in this wonder-filled, mystical, and compelling novel. Cleverly plotted with a female protagonist, Serena Mendez, that is truly original in ancestry, yet very 21st century-real, with personal problems that she manages to set aside to pursue the very truth of her being. We join her in this a non-stop rush that mixes equal parts of history, myth, and lore that I didn’t want to ever end! I’m already looking forward to more of Serena again and again. Acquista is the obvious heir apparent to the globe-trotting, can’t-be-put-down-novels such as The DaVinci Code and The House Of Secrets. Move over Dan Brown and Brad Meltzer, you have deserving company at your table with Serpent Rising!”
-- Patrick Kendrick, award-winning author of American Ripper: The Enigma Of America’s Serial Killer Cop.
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About the Author
About the Author
Victor Acquista has become an international author and speaker following his careers as a primary-care physician and medical executive. He is known for "Writing to Raise Consciousness." His multi-genre works include fiction and nonfiction and often incorporate social messaging to engage readers in thought-provoking themes.
He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, the Florida Writers Association, Writers Co-op, and is a Knight of the Sci-Fi Roundtable.
When not pondering the big questions in life and what’s for dinner, he enjoys gardening and cooking. He lives with his wife and dog in Ave Maria, Florida.
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