Rod Pennington - A Guru to the Stars
Rod Pennington has had fourteen consecutive books go to #1 in multiple Kindle niche categories worldwide. The six titles he has co-authored with Dr. Jeffery A. Martin have all been international bestsellers. The flagship novel, The Fourth Awakening, was #1 in "New Age - Mysticism" in the US and UK for over 4 straight years. As our Author of the Day, Pennington tells us all about his book What Ever Happened to Mr. MAJIC?
Please give us a short introduction to what "What Ever Happened to Mr. MAJIC?" is about.
At her mother’s funeral, Grace Maxwell discovers the man who raised her was not her biological father. Instead, her ‘real’ Dad was the “Guru to the Stars”, known as Mr. MAJIC, who had mysteriously vanished when her mother was pregnant with her. With her zany sister and an old school detective, Grace goes on a vision quest to find the elusive Mr. MAJIC and along the way finds herself.
What inspired you to write about someone who discovers that her biological father was a world famous Guru?
Nearly every mystery/thriller starts with a bleeding corpse on the sidewalk. When you’re trying to write a parable of how to make your life better, violence is off the table. When you eliminate the conventional ‘grabbers’ you have to look for other ways to get the attention of the reader. The opening line of the MAJIC is, “What do you mean, you’re not my father?” Hopefully, that is a powerful enough emotional question to draw the reader in and compel them keep reading. Since MAJIC is a basically a step-by-step guide of how to jettison the BS that is screwing up your life, the idea of using a ‘guru’ was a natural fit since it provided an excuse to talk about how to attain a state of enlightenment.
How did you manage to keep the book fast-paced throughout?
In addition to novels, I also write screenplays so plot, pacing and timing come naturally to me. My goal is to write a short, standalone chapter -- usually one scene -- that moves both the story and character arch forward. Then end the chapter with a cliffhanger that, hopefully, asks a question that will motivate the reader to turn the page and keep reading. To me, the ultimate compliment in a review is when someone says they couldn’t put the book down or lost a night’s sleep.
You have co-authored a couple of bestsellers. What is the secret to your success?
The secret to our success is I let Jeffery do the thinking and he lets me do the writing. My co-author, Dr. Jeffery A. Martin is a brilliant academic and scientist. The underlying message of each of our seven titles together are based on his research. He lets my imagination run wild, then goes in and fact checks all of my stuff to prevent me from going off on a tangent or getting in the weeds.
How do you divide tasks between you when working on a book?
It is pretty simple. I write the book and Jeffery applies the guardrails. Once someone asked how much of The Fourth Awakening Jeffery wrote I replied he spelled his name correctly on the cover. He was sitting right next to me and just shrugged and didn’t protest. But seriously, the sections in MAJIC when we get into the nitty-gritty of how to release and move to a higher state of wellbeing are my words but Jeffery’s ideas.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m a gourmet cook and every dog in the world loves me.
Why did you decide to include some romance in this book?
The world is a tough place and no one should have to face it alone. I try to avoid being too graphic but still get the message across. In The Gathering Darkness I had what I thought was one of the best 2-line sex scenes ever.
“I hadn’t envisioned you as a screamer,” Michael Walker said softly as he stroked Penelope’s hair.
Penelope, panting and tucked into the crook of his arm with her head resting on his chest felt her cheeks darken. “Me either.”
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Absolutely. The world is a complicated place but life is pretty simple when you just let the noise and static of the people and events flow through you without letting any of it stick. Also, God has a wicked sense of humor. Laugh more and good things will follow when she realizes you are in on the joke.
Your characters feel relatable and real. How did you pull this off?
Fiction is friction. I like to put two characters together with diametrically opposite worldviews and let them verbally duke it out. This allows me to dig deep into a character by making them defend their beliefs while exposing their doubts and closest held secrets. It also allows me to tell the story through the words and deeds of the characters instead of an omnipotent narrator doing their version of ‘mansplaining’ to the reader. This puts flesh and blood on the characters and makes them much more interesting.
Your book has a different take on "enlightenment" - tell us more about this.
I believe the word ‘enlightenment’ has been hijacked by a bunch of Birkenstock wearing, granola munching hippie wannabes whose favorite song is Kumbaya. You don’t need to sit in lotus position in an adult diaper on a mountain top somewhere to find inner peace. It is available to everyone if they master a few simple releasing techniques and quit letting people get in their heads. That is the entire point of Mr. MAJIC. Life is not nearly as complicated as you’re trying to make it. No matter who you are or where you live, forgive, forget and release and good things will follow. The past is an illusion and the future will never arrive. Live in the moment and learn to laugh at the hilarious world around you.
How do you balance all of the demands of a successful writing career (writing, appearances, etc.) and the myriad personal life demands?
Master a single word. “No.”
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I tend to be a manic writer. Somedays all I do is walk around muttering to myself. FYI: having a Bluetooth in your ear helps minimize the weird looks from the people you walk past since they think you’re on your phone and not nuts. Once I have what I want straight in my head I tend to slide into what my significantly better half calls, “Book Brain”. Normal sleep rhythms, personal hygiene, the ability to interact with primates, etc. goes out the window. This can last for a few days or a few weeks. Recently I had a two-week bout of Book Brain and wrote a third of my next novel.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m working on “Summer of Edna”. The message will be how enlightened people deal with the ravages of aging and face death. The viewpoint character is a ‘tweener’ -- caught between her dying mother and rebellious teenagers. While the subject may sound maudlin, it is a light, funny mystery with a screwball cast of characters that deeply explores the complexities of life and living.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Visit my web page RodPennington.net
You can send me an email to [email protected]. I’ll personally answer any question on any topic from enlightenment, the craft of writing or the best hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park.