As a child, I never minded being sent to bed! The nights were always full of vivid and intriguing adventures, dreams that stretched my young imagination and sometimes even seemed to foretell the future. When these events actually started happening in the real world days or weeks later, I realised I was on to something. And since nobody believed me, I taught myself to wake up after a ‘significant’ dream and record it so I could prove that the human mind was more powerful than everyone said.
Psychic and paranormal events became second nature then, from knowing what others were thinking to seeing ‘signs’ in everyday life that warned me of trouble (from the local bullies) or encouraged me when I felt lonely (unheard by my conservative family). I knew that I was not alone, even if I never knew who, or what, was guiding me. Mindfulness was not in fashion back then, but it was my way of life.
“To every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” But the road can be tough when it never seems to be the right time and you’re not sure what the purpose is. I found myself nudged along a path of sciences, engineering and Mathematics, living a rather uncomfortable life with one foot in each of two very different worlds.
One must, however, still make a living in the material world and, to be fair, I loved teaching young people and exploring Maths, especially its irrationality. Yet the inner world of the psyche was equally real to me and I have never understood why so many simply choose to ignore the utterly fundamental questions it poses about the nature of human consciousness, such as “How does telepathy work?” and “What happens when we die?”
The need for answers burned within me. But I would have to plough the lone furrow of study and the investigation of weirdly gifted people; fortunately – or was this part of The Plan? – my scientific training saved me from swallowing the excesses of the New Age gurus. One must never be so open-minded that one’s brains fall out.
So what has all this to do with books? From primary school age, I had always wanted to be a writer. I still have my first ever book, an eight-page fully illustrated exposition on the life cycle of frogs. Possibly not very original, though. And later, my O Level English grade would be better than my Maths. But no, it still wasn’t my season. Using every spare minute that career and family life allowed, I wrote a comedy novel set in the afterlife (surely that world is full of just the same narrow-minded and bureaucratic people that have just left this one?) and a detailed account of my hundreds of precognitive dreams and daily synchronicities.
And like so many other aspiring authors, my special drawer filled up with rejection letters. Many of them were even very complimentary, which only seemed to make me feel worse. Yes, there were five books of mathematical investigations but they were never part of my ambition so don’t count. One novel was even accepted by a major publisher – but they pulled out days before contract, citing their accountants who said that my work was “too risky”! It was beginning to look like a dead end for writing.
Then The Plan swung into action.
A spinal injury suffered in my twenties began to affect my mobility seriously and I had to retire early from teaching. And with just one year to go, I made a new friend who knew people who knew other people… and Spirit Revelations, my book of dreams and synchronicities, was published (warmly and kindly endorsed by Dr Rupert Sheldrake). I was invited to give talks and lectures at festivals, the College of Psychic Studies and the Society for Psychical Research. Then my comedy novel Signs of Life was runner-up in a national competition. A new career beckoned.
But it was not the one I imagined. My publisher, Beth, with whom I was now friends, became ill and had to give up the company. But she had set it up in an ethical way, supporting authors who never get a chance with the Big Boys, and was unwilling to sell out to one of them. She offered it to me for £1.
Once I had recovered from the shock, it didn’t take long to accept. Here was the life of books that I had wanted since childhood, even though it meant caring for other people’s writing rather than developing my own. There was just one small problem: I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing business and Beth was too ill to help. So I made a nuisance of myself with the design and print subcontractors and picked every brain I could get hold of. To test whether I’d learned well, I then wrote and published Lighting the Path, a guide to using the extraordinary Chinese oracle I Ching, or Book of Changes. It worked (and it still sells)!
I refocused the company, Local Legend, to the Mind, Body and Spirit genre that was always my true passion, maintaining its ethics and non-profit nature (I don’t take any salary for my administrative and editing work). I have expanded the company’s marketing, developed close relationships with the leading MBS magazines and run biannual spiritual writing competitions. Whilst unable to do much writing of my own, this has been a joy. Finally, perhaps, with much guidance, I believe, from Someone, Somewhere, I had come to understand one of the great spiritual truths:
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”David Viscott in Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times, 1993
And yet… I knew there was something very important that I still had to write. As a callow and naïve youth, knowing nothing about girls or politics, I had fallen deeply in love with a Czech girl. This was A Good Thing. One month later, her country was invaded by the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies. A Very Bad Thing.
Broken Sea is my account of those times, a novel based on real events in which the characters and places are fictionalised whilst the historical and military facts are described truthfully. National runner-up in The People’s Book Prize awards, it is a story of the human spirit, in which two young people struggle to find their own freedom and identity in the face of their families’ rejection. “She’s a communist.” “He’s a capitalist. And he has long hair.” Equally, in the background, a young democratic nation is also struggling to achieve freedom and identity, savagely rejected by neighbours with tanks, fighter ’planes and missiles.
By the way, this may be the only novel with its own title song! Please visit YouTube and search ‘Broken Sea Nigel Peace’.
The book was written in the hope that we may all learn from the past. Sadly, in the case of Eastern Europe, that hasn’t happened. Yet the book is also a tribute to the human spirit, to self-belief and to never giving up on your dreams. The Czechs, at least, are now free. And, several decades on from when it all started, I am an author.
Nigel Peace is the author of several spiritual books, and owner of the MBS publishing company Local Legend.