“Our most exciting challenges aren’t met on the battlefields or mountain peaks, but inside our hearts and minds.”

Interviewer
I love the protagonist Lucy. I can see her clearly — she seems so vulnerable and lonely trapped in the cave at the beginning of the book. Yet, as the adventure progresses, she discovers her hidden strength. How did Lucy come into being?

Desiree Gullan
Can you imagine the conscious and unconscious trauma of being separated from your parents at just nine months? As a mother, this possibility terrified me and was something I wanted to explore. What becomes of the child? How can parents come back from such profound loss? What are the lasting psychological wounds? I tried to understand the healing process.

Lucy was in the unfortunate fortunate situation of being thrust out of the arms of her devoted parents into the arms of a loving spiritual master, who raises her for more than a decade. He teaches her the ancient Eastern practices. Lucy not only finds peace, she also develops powers or Siddhis.

I also found it fascinating to see our modern world through the eyes of an innocent child. A child who has lived a materially simple, yet spiritually rich life. A life founded on love purity, truth, respect for nature, meditation, and the company of unconditional love and compassion. I wanted to understand the world as seen through those eyes.

 

Interviewer
Father Roshi, Lucy’s guardian in the cave who she calls “Father,” is a brilliant physicist and meditation master. Why did you merge science and spirituality?

Desiree Gullan
Meditation and spiritual practices have helped me through many dark times in my life — overcoming childhood trauma, self-loathing, and depression. I wanted to share the powers of the practice and make known its benefits, not in a heavy, didactic manner, but in an engaging and entertaining adventure story. I wanted to give people hope by bringing to light the power of the practices and substantiating it all with science. There is vast research proving these ancient practices have powerful and positive consequences.

 

Interviewer
Six Nine, the rugged, and flawed ex-SEAL rescues Lucy from the cave and goes on a wild adventure with her. Why him?

Desiree Gullan
I wanted to create a foil for the beautiful, sensitive and wise-beyond-her-years Lucy, not just emotionally, but physically as well. Six Nine, real name Jayson Smithereen, got his moniker because he is Six-foot, nine-inches tall, and nearly as broad shoulder to shoulder of pure muscle. As with Lucy, Six’s character suffered many severe losses, except his are unresolved. Six copes by taking hard-core action — fighting and blowing things up. Six rescues Lucy physically from the cave, and later in the story, he rescues her again and again. When shit goes down — Six blows things up while Lucy does things very differently. My learning from Six’s character is there’s a place for all beings, and every being has its place. Everything is perfectly as it should be. A highly spiritually evolved Lama is no better or more important than a regular guy doing his best and trying to make his way in the world.

 

Interviewer
I love the part when Lucy receives a copy of J. D. Salinger’s book, Franny and Zooey, and goes on an inquiry about the publishing industry.

Desiree Gullan
Yes, as a first-time novelist, I was in a dark cave about the publishing industry, just as Lucy was. I’d been doing my research and was fascinated by this new world I was entering. It was also a vehicle for Father to explain to Lucy how imbalanced the world is, what a man’s club it is, and how women (and by implication other excluded or marginalized groups) have to “kick down more doors” in life. I was nervous about including it in the first chapter, especially while on the hunt for an agent and publisher. Still that dialogue was more a commentary on societal and self-imposed limitations we too often allow to sabotage our lives.

 

Interviewer
And the part about Oprah?

Desiree Gullan
What’s socially engaged fiction without thinking about Oprah? Adding to that, Oprah ignited my love of reading, and its thanks to her, I became an avid reader, which ultimately lead to me becoming a writer. When Oprah’s book club launched, she championed reading at a time when most people were eating TV dinners in front of the tube. I have oceans of gratitude to Oprah, she been a positive force in the world in so many ways.

 

Interviewer
The scene where Franny, the Orangutan, gives birth made me want to put the book down and run. I couldn’t stand it. At the same time, I had to keep turning the pages to see what was going to happen. How did you write that?

Desiree Gullan
That scene, the scene where Lucy discovers the suffering animals in the laboratory, and the scene in the fresh meat department in the supermarket were difficult to write. Some days I avoided my computer so as not to have to take my head there. The scene in the lab took way longer than it should have to write. Those scenes were crucial in providing a new perspective of the way we’re living our lives, what modern life has become, how we have hardened our hearts and shut ourselves off to the suffering. And the hardest part, our life choices are the cause of so much suffering. Through the eyes of a young child, who only knows love, compassion and respect for all beings, I was hoping my readers would, like I did, re-evaluate things. It’s a long road and the suffering of animals and the environment will no doubt continue. Even so, I hope that with a little more awareness and openness of heart, we can tread lighter.

 

Interviewer
Lucy’s biological father has been searching for her for over a decade, chasing one false lead after another, why do they remain apart.

Desiree Gullan
Lucy’s biological parents love her more than anyone, except of course, Father Roshi, yet they remain just out of reach. Lucy’s biological father, Jack, throws himself into building an empire — a numbing distraction from his pain. Lucy’s mother, Ruby, becomes catatonic, unable to function in society. Despite this, they all remain deeply connected. I was exploring the interconnectedness of all things, on the spiritual and physical realms. Ruby is unresponsive to people but remains connected to the world via the birds. They bring her information, keep a lookout for her. This is not magical realism. Animals perceive realms people can’t, which is why people have, through the ages, kept dogs to guard their homes, used canaries in the mines.

 

Interviewer
Yes, the wonderful crows? Tell us a little more.

Desiree Gullan
I love crows. They are the smartest, most beautiful creatures, yet they are highly underrated. They are considered pests in many areas. Do a Google search and watch the Ted Talk on crows, your mind will be blown. In some Buddhist traditions, ravens and crows are the protectors of their spirituality. When the first Dalai Lama (Chokey Geundun) was born, their home was raided, and the family had to flee, leaving behind the little child. When they returned the following morning, they found the baby guarded by a pair of crows. To this day, crows are symbols of his rank. In this story, the crows are symbolic of things not being as they seem. A sign to look and feel a little deeper for the truth.

 

Interviewer
Without any spoilers, tell us why you ended the book where you did. I did not see that coming.

Desiree Gullan
The original outline of the story went on for another 30 or so chapters. I had a whole different ending in mind and once I’d written what is now the final chapter of the book, I couldn’t write another word. The story ended itself.

 

Interviewer
What’s your writing process?

Desiree Gullan
I wake up at 4 AM every morning, make a double espresso, and sit at the kitchen table and work flat out until my family wakes up around 6 AM. Then we get on with our day — daughter to school, and my husband and I go off to work. I still have my day job as Executive Creative Director of a digital communications agency. My first book took me nearly four years to complete.

My writing process involves spending a lot of time thinking about the characters and allowing them to come to life. Then I have to know what the vision for the book is, and I have an idea of what the ending will be. I also do a lot reading – general reading – filling myself up. Connections naturally start to happen — connections between my characters, current news, the state of the world, pieces of dialogue and quotes. It’s a mysterious, magical, and beautiful experience, and I have to remain open to it. Found and Lost, book one of the Great Way Series, wrote itself. I was just the vehicle or the channel, and I am profoundly humbled and grateful that it chose me.

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