I wrote my novel The Shores Of Our Souls as an answer to 9/11, whose shock waves continue to echo through our lives.
After the attacks in New York and my home, Washington, DC, the world gave a collective gasp as we focused on “Ground Zero” and the repeated, horrific media footage that portrayed it. Even then, I felt the media were missing the point: The world as we knew it was forever changed, but not destroyed. Each ONE of us was being called to step up to refashion this new world.
Today, I feel that “Ground Zero” is an archaic term. Seventy years after World War II, fifteen years after 9/11, the name defines us even as it divides us. All while diminishing what is, to me, Holy Ground. Ground Zero is the reason I created a new term and a new business called Ground One, and wrote a novel about the connections–and the similarities–between the Arab World and the American World.
Ground Zero : Function: noun; Date: 1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning.
I took the third definition and created:
Ground One: Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems; 5: to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.
With my novel, I hoped to bring a fresh, more balanced perspective to the fear-based threats and epithets being exchanged between American and Arab and Muslim society. I focused on the similarities instead of the differences between cultures. The novel has been on a journey, just as its author has, since 9/11.
I first called Shores by another name: Incongruent.
Incongruent : Function: adj.; Date ~ 1) incompatible; 2) inharmonious; 3) discordant; 4) conflicting; 5) unequal; 6) inconsistent
Of course, I’m a writer, and I was playing with the word. I meant it to be ironic (to a degree). Yet the title also reflected the societal view of the time. The novel wasn’t getting a publisher, and I decided to revisit my intent when I named it.
As I searched for another title, the first novel expanded, growing into a trilogy. My novel grew as I grew, matured, as world events conspired to transform our world–and our society’s view of it. As I wrote the second novel in the series, and outlined the plot for the third, I realized it was only society that saw my characters’ relationship as incongruent. It was imperative, then, to send a message of peace and that the new title reflect just that–peace, balance, empowerment and love.
“Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.” –Hermann Hesse
I found the perfect title while I was attending the Alogonkian Writing (Pitch) Conference in New York City, where much of Shores takes place. I found it in the depths of a Khalil Gibran quote. I’ve loved this philosopher, poet and author, who was another connector for Lebanon and New York in the 60s and 70s. I’ve visited his home in Bcharre, Lebanon. I’ve read everything he ever wrote published in English. So it is with great pride that my new title stems from words in one of his works about love, not war. You’ll see that full quote at the end of my book trailer.
For true love can never be imbalanced, or shattered, because it’s our souls that love, even after we depart and carry on with our lives, even after–yes, even after–we depart this world.
Or as Gibran wrote:
“Do not be frightened, for I am now Truth, spared from swords and fire to reveal to the people the triumph of Love over War.”
My hope as an author is that this theme–and the title it inspired–will resonate as you read about Dianna and Qasim and their enduring if impractical love. (When is love ever practical?) Yet after you close the book, should you want more, I hope you come back here to discuss what their love means to you.
For now, you can leave your email. You’ll get a free chapter of Shores, and you’ll be notified as soon as the novel is in pre-publication.