After reading other people’s reviews, comments, and criticisms of the movie Zero Dark Thirty, I decided to see it for myself. What I found was a brutal and realistic depiction of what the CIA analysts had to go through to complete the Bin Laden mission. Although I thought the movie stayed pretty clear of politics (like the decision to cross into Pakistan territory without letting the Pakistani government know beforehand that we were going to conduct a raid into their country or the moral and ethical issues surrounding Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”), it was still political in many other ways (i.e. it does imply that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” lead to information that eventually helped complete the UBL mission). The movie opened with a scene depicting water-boarding of a prisoner. How’s that for brutal and realistic?

But seeing the movie made me think about the Emerald Tablet and writing a book. Although the Emerald Tablet and the mythology of alchemy and Thoth are spiritual in nature, it doesn’t mean my book series can be no less realistic. After all, I am a human writing about an alien world. And that’s what readers want. We want human stories in fantastic worlds that expand our imagination.

I often get asked the question, is my book YA (Young Adult)? Well, yes and no. YA, according to Wikipedia (therefore it must be right) YA is defined as ages 12 to 18. Let’s be honest. There is a huge difference in the appropriateness of what an 18 year old would read compared to a 12 year old. An 18 year old in our society can join the military, get a gun, and be ordered to kill people. 12 year olds can’t. So to lump those two ages into one gigantic “YA” category is absurd. That’s why I say the Emerald Tablet (and the rest of the series) is for people who are about 15 years old or older. Ideally, I wrote it for adults. I meant it to be a realistic exposition on good vs. evil. Not just the spiritual war of the alchemy in the series, but an ethical and moral one too. I wanted to say let’s be honest about war but set it in a science-fiction/fantasy world that is based on faith and spirituality. So yes, there’s violence in the book because violence is a very real part of our world. There’s sex in the book because it is a very real part of our existence. And there’s brutality in the series because our world can be brutal.

But don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t mean to say that every book in the world needs to have violence, sex, and brutality in order to feel “real”. Far from it. But having those things in the book might cause the readers to be more introspective as to what they’re willing to do in a life or death situation. As one of my reviewers on Amazon recently said, His [Leoros] life there collides and intersects with the lives of all he meets, some destined for greatness, some for infamy and treachery. Sometimes the lines are blurred between perceived good and evil. One things for sure, the story Never Let’s Up!”

That’s the point isn’t it? That’s what life is all about. No one person is all good or all evil. There are shades of grey (but there aren’t 50 Shades). We all do things we regret. We all do morally questionable activities at some point in our lives. The point is to have that discussion within yourself and find your moral center. I’d like to think the Emerald Tablet does that – especially with kids who are 15+. They are young, impressionable, and just discovering themselves in a world that’s full of opposites. They will be exposed to images of war that are horrific and brutal and will also see it at a younger age than every other generation before them because of technology. Yet they also find that our world can be extremely compassionate and loving, filled with people sacrificing their lives and freedoms so others may have theirs.

The Emerald Tablet is not just a spiritual journey through alchemy. It will always be about the moral and ethical decisions that shape who we are as we grow up. But this is what you should focus on when writing a book, the journeys of the characters.

About Joshua G. Silverman