Embrace the Dangers and Possibilities
Posted by Literary Titan
Jill Campbell-Mason Author Interview
The Elephant in the Room follows a couple who visits Indonesia for the first time and experiences a culture drastically different than what they are used to. What was the inspiration for the original and fascinating idea at the center of the book?
Something had to be done to address the extreme rifts between people in this country as well as the rest of the world. As a writer, I wanted to communicate the message through people who were living on each end of many of these extremes. The message is a critical one of beginning healing.
Writing this book has allowed me to expose publicly, in a fascinating, yet understated way, rampant, accepted prejudice and cultural inequalities.
Reading, the act of reading, puts the magic of words and ideas inside readers’ bodies and minds with a subtlety impossible in a verbal interchange. Internalized, it can be contemplated—revised, rethought, doubted—and changed! A new way of thinking, acting and BEING can come about. More kind, more understanding.
How thrilling to discover The Elephant in the Room—and rather than fear it, embrace the danger and possibilities it represents.
In the book, the Crown Prince, with his aggressive greed and power, had the potential to completely shatter an entire culture. He and his minions had dehumanized the population. Only through the simplest of simple wisdom, that of the shaman Apollo, with his community in Medicine Village, was healing begun.
With this story I hope to share the process of healing at its purest, most basic level.
What kind of research did you do for this novel to ensure you captured the essence of the story’s theme?
Since research sometimes is dry, and I wanted this story to be vividly alive, my most important research was traveling to Sumatra with Indonesian friends who had grown up on the island. With them I learned the culture in extremely intimate ways. I am most grateful to them for their generosity in sharing so much of their history. In addition, I did research the history of the caste system, the ACEH movement, the treatment of elephants, etc. to make certain all my information was genuine—and it is!
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted to empower the reader into the realization that the Elephant, or elephants, in the Room, can be addressed. In fact, they must be. The ecological elephants, both symbolic and real!, the cultural elephants, the elephants of prejudice and greed, political elephants, etc. Through the characters and events in the book, my hope is that readers become aware of these ‘elephants’, and that they can see transformation in a positive direction is possible. Only with awareness and action can this happen. I would love my book to help make that awareness a reality.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will continue to delve into wonderful characters struggling both with themselves and cultural differences. It is based on a true incident that begins at the foot of Machu Picchu and unreels over the course of two decades. It is titled Mario of My Life and will be available sometime late in 2023.
It will most likely be followed by a searing memoir of my four years in Barcelona, Spain while the dictator Francisco Franco was still in power.
The Elephant in the Room takes you on a journey from a new perspective – the back of an elephant. Catch a glimpse of yourself mirrored in the native wisdom of a shaman in a remote Medicine Village. See yourself alongside Masir, the son, who blindly obeys the father— Crown Prince Sudman, despot ruler of a kingdom brought to the brink of collapse. Witness an abused lower caste, personified by the wealthy Wayan Tiger leading a struggle for recognition. It’s a journey through life in its strange familiarity with galvanizing forces that clash culture with the power to forever change individual lives and international trajectories. For the first time, people will not be able to ignore The Elephant in the Room.