Behind the Book: BACK TO THE SKY by Katey Hawthorne
When I was 20 years old, I jumped into a Land Rover in Kathmandu with a couple of friends, and a tour guide started driving directly into the Himalayas. We were on our way to Lhasa–with several evening stops in between so we could check out the towns, temples, vistas, and people on our way. Worryingly–not to me at the time, but certainly to my parents–I wasn’t totally sure how I’d be getting back to Kathmandu. But I had a Tibetan travel agent friend who was going to meet me in Lhasa, so I was sure she’d figure something out.
I was kind of stupid when I was 20, yes.
Anyhow, after several adventures in Tibet I made it back down to Kathmandu–where I was studying for the semester–or I wouldn’t be telling this story, obviously. But it was an enlightening two plus weeks, let’s just say, for a young Appalachian girl. Thanks to my travel agent friend I managed to see a bunch of places off the beaten path with relative ease while in Tibet, including two different monasteries with sky burial sites–which I was very, very lucky to be able to visit.
Geordie, the hippy dippy white boy love interest in BACK TO THE SKY, has never been to Tibet, let alone seen a traditional a funeral site there. But he gets it in spirit, which pretty much anyone can.
Geordie’s face tilted upward, like a plant turning its leaves to soak up as much light as possible. His colorless eyes fluttered shut, then opened as if he’d stare down the sun. “They do this thing in Tibet, sky burial.”
Okay, weird topic, but Zane was never surprised by Geordie’s randomness anymore. “I heard of that. With the vultures?”
“Yeah. I’ve heard about those sites where they do it. Usually hidden behind some important monastery, just, like, a big, smooth rocky outcrop overlooking this huge, desolate landscape.”
“Guess not much grows in Tibet,” Zane mused. “I heard some tourists got the shit beat out of them for going to one.”
“I dunno, I heard you can go look at the site—if you know where it is—as long as there’s nothing actually going on there at the time. Which, I mean, if someone was that fucking ignorant…”
Zane snorted. “Agreed.” Actions and consequences, all that. Shame most of the people who could afford to travel to places like that were privileged assholes who had zero experience with the concept.
“I don’t know how they do it exactly,” Geordie said, still looking upward, all thoughtful. “I guess they chop them up, though. Then I think there’s a dance or something that calls the vultures. So they get their bits and pieces taken away. Until there’s nothing left.”
“It’s kind of depressing.” Though no more than any other funeral, Zane guessed. And not that it was a bad thing; unlike his parents, he never minded acknowledging the unpleasant parts of life.
“But not,” Geordie said quietly.
Zane considered this, looking down at the grass. Through it, really. “Yeah, I guess. Almost comforting, in a weird way. I want to say it’s an escape, but…maybe it’s just symbolic of one.”
“Yeah, that.” Geordie turned to look at Zane now. “Not an escape from money problems or mean people or whatever. An escape from the whole illusion of our reality. Like, it’s the symbol of it. A reminder of our…” Geordie looked down at his hand. A cloud blowing by blotted out the sun for a moment, sending a shadow over them. “Freedom. Back to the sky.”
Zane cocked an eyebrow. There was only so far he could take the navel-gazing. Geordie made it kinda charming, yeah, but…it just wasn’t his deal. Because reasons. “Well, yes and no. It could be freedom. But it could also be cowardice.”
Deep, right? Well, Geordie thinks so, anyhow. Zane is clearly not all that convinced, but hey. Geordie has his… uh, very convincing moments.
Anyhow, that’s where the title comes from, and the real life Adventures of Katey story behind it. I promise the book isn’t all navel-gazing… just mostly! 😀
And don’t miss Katey’s newest story, Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Arms Dealers, a gay paranormal romantic suspense, written with Jenna Rose! It’s available for pre-order at 10% off the retail price, Oct. 23-Oct. 27, 2015.