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Mary Dunlop’s love for the short-fiction novel began at the age of fifteen with the school-appointed read, The Catcher in the Rye. So much emotion packed into so few pages remained with her always and attracted her to other short works, including and perhaps most notably “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. That little book, through its soulful lyrical writing, helped Mary find her voice. As soon as she finished reading it, she shelved the novel she had planned to write and penned, instead, The Power of Twin Soul Love.
Q. What compelled you to write Betsey’s story? And is there a significance?
A. Parts of Betsey’s story are parts of my own life. My personal spiritual and relationship experiences inspired me to write this book and share what I have lived and learned with others.
The significance of this story is that it shows how true love can find us when our hearts and minds become more open, and, as was Betsey’s experience, when we begin to feel “more and more complete.”
Q. What did you find to be the largest challenge of writing this novel and Betsey’s story?
A. What was most challenging was the editing. Albeit the fact that this book is a novella — book one of a series — it took a while to complete because of the prose. As much as my writing flowed soulfully and lyrically, the editing was tedious. It’s sometimes said that song writers choose words that sound good rhythmically, but they don’t always make sense grammatically or otherwise – they’re not really the right words. I wanted to make sure that my writing retained its poetic nature while also being clear to the reader.
Q. Through reading your novel, my feeling was that there are many messages that can be interpreted from this novel, but what main message do you feel you were trying to convey?
A. I think that, sometimes, people feel helpless when it comes to love. They can also feel desperate and look for it in the wrong places, or mistake something else for love, or settle for something that’s not love at all. Consequently, the main message I’ve conveyed through Betsey’s story is that to find your soul mate you must first get to know your soul — your Self. Quite often, the search for true love, for those who have difficulty finding their ideal match, best begins within, because your “perfect” partner’s qualities already exist within you. Most of the time, from what I have come to know, is that lasting love evades people who have yet to discover certain parts of themselves — people who don’t know themselves very well or who haven’t discovered their wholeness. How often do you hear stories of unrequited love where the person, whose affection is not being returned, says “But without her, I don’t feel whole.”? Is that person really loving the other, or is he actually seeking his wholeness so that he can feel complete within himself? In Betsey’s case, once she began to open her heart in meditation, which became her regular spiritual practice, she began to feel a sense of self-completeness and inner-peace.
Chapter 2, page 40: “I had an “aha moment” where I realized the difference between a thought from the brain and a feeling from the heart. That was it! That was my breakthrough. Almost instantly I understood that if I wanted to meditate I needed to change my focus from my mind to my heart. It was simple, really. Rather than fighting to cease from thinking, I began to concentrate. I concentrated on what I was feeling—in my body and in my breath. It truly was very simple, yet at the same time it was also powerful; so powerful that it led me to be more aware of my prana—my life force. And it allowed me to let that energy lead me into peace.”
Betsey also eventually started to feel something that was soft and nurturing — an energy (a sensation). Softness and the ability to be nurturing were qualities that remained underdeveloped in Betsey until she started meditating. These parts of her then began to rise from the shadows — from her subconscious to her awareness — and slowly she became ready to embrace the prospect of a relationship with Mark who exuded both these qualities. What was hidden in her was dominant in him.
Q. The speed at which the development of the relationship between Betsey and Mark was quite rapid, but do you attribute that to the testimony of how strong the bond between “twin souls” are? What are some of the creative choices you made in writing their relationship (that is, I think it would be interesting to hear about what symbolism Mark and Betsey have for you, if anything?
A. A twin soul is someone who touches something deep within your psyche and who is available to share in a healthy, loving relationship with you. The meeting and speed of development of the relationship depends on how much you have worked on your personal growth and how in touch you are with certain parts of yourself, including your sensuality. For example, Betsey began to understand more about her sensual nature by examining her sensual fantasies through meditation, visualization, dream analysis, and writing.
Chapter 3, page 53 : “”I was the hero in my fantasies, while my dream lover, who was quite different from the qualities I normally presented to the world, was someone I needed to protect.””
Q. What authors or genres inspire your writing?
A. Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gift from the Sea) and Patti Smith (Just Kids) directly influenced my writing style in this book.
Q. What types of characters do you enjoy reading about? Do you try to put those elements in your own works?
A. Characters I enjoy reading about are ones I relate to, like Bridget, from //Bridget Jones’s Diary//, for her humor and authenticity. There’s a lot of her in me, so I think I did put some of that in Betsey, too, like when she fell off her barstool in Chapter 1.
Q. How would you characterize Betsey and Mark as protagonists?
A. The primary character in this story is Betsey. “Book One” and the upcoming “Book Two” are about her journey — her reconnection with spirituality and love — while Mark, through his authenticity and support, offers her exactly what she needs to progress.
Q. Betsey’s brother clearly seems to be a key person in the role of Betsey’s life, but maybe in a less direct way than Mark or her grandmother. What significance did he have for you in your vision for your novel? What type of role did you imagine him having?
A. Betsey’s brother, John, played two roles in the novella. First, he encouraged Betsey to give Mark a chance, and, second, he got her further in touch with her sixth sense. While John told her about his lost love, Georgia, Betsey received a strong psychic message possibly from her grandmother or from Georgia herself telling Betsey exactly what her brother should do to go from pain to peace.
Q. There was a quote on page 4 that stood out to me quite a bit: “Soul twins are a gift we all receive. We don’t all physically meet them…this is why it is twice as important to be kind to yourselves and to love yourselves no matter what. So much depends upon loving yourselves, because if you don’t or if you do something to hurt yourselves, your twins will feel this somehow (page 4)”. What are your thoughts on this idea and do you think it’s a universal practice that we should all put in place regardless of whether or not we believe in “the one”?
A. The full quote was “//“Soul twins are a gift we all receive. We don’t all physically meet them. Still, they are with us, and they feel us. This is why it is twice as important to be kind to yourselves and to love yourselves no matter what. So much depends upon loving yourselves, because if you don’t or if you do something to hurt yourselves, your twins will feel this somehow…”//” I mention the full quote, because ‘’“they are with us, and they feel us”’’ is most important. You see, I believe that the vibes we emit through the ways we care for and regard ourselves affect not just ourselves, but others, as well, on different levels. The way I see it is that we are all made from the same spiritual energy and therefore impact each other both consciously and subconsciously. In that sense, we are all twin souls to each other; so, yes, whether we believe in “the one” or not, I think this is a practice we should all put in place.
Q. Are there any words you would impart for people holding out for “the one?”
A. To people looking to find that right person, I suggest you do your inner work first. Meditate, look within, and, like Betsey, find your sacred place!
It’s important to remember that another person can complement you but they can never complete you. Completeness can only be found by knowing yourself and having a loving, healthy relationship with yourself.
Society places much emphasis on being coupled, on finding that one soul mate, but don’t worry about that. Focus instead on your personal development, and, once you’ve grown to a certain point and reached a certain place within, you will find that right mate, or rather, that right mate will find you.
Thank you so much for this interview. I very much enjoyed answering your questions.