Welcome to Realm Explorers! In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors. Enjoy your travels! And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.
Author’s name: Darlene N. Bocek
Title of book and/or series: The Last Noel (Return to Me series) (paranormal dystopia)
When fireman Reuben Morales learns his unsaved sister has been tragically killed, he struggles with her death until he is swept up into Judgment Day and sees her life and death through the eyes of God. The trauma of this vision propels him as he directs the church Christmas pageant and discovers the answers to his questions in an unexpected way.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The story takes place in Southern California. But at one point, Reuben is brought into a vision or dream of Heaven. The strange and fantastical, “speculative” world in this story is a paranormal view of heaven on Judgment Day. The “otherliness” of this story lies in the spirit world and its contact with us. This is the first book of a trilogy, in which the supernatural and paranormal (ghosts, phantoms, demons, dreams and visions) are examined in their real impact upon us. I call this realm “paranormal dystopia.”
If we were to visit Heaven as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Ha ha. Judgment Day before the throne of God. I know I’ll be looking for Jesus to hide under the shelter of his wings.
What dangers should we avoid in Heaven?
Certainly, the way to avoid a dangerous Judgment Day is to listen and bend to the truth that is readily available to us today, in the Bible.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Heaven?
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Fruit from a tree that gives twelve different kinds of fruit.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Heaven?
There is the Sword of Truth that will cut through bone and marrow, soul and spirit.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Heaven?
In The Last Noel, a vision of the Nativity story and of the Crucifixion, is put on display at Judgment Day.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Heaven that we don’t see on Earth?
There will be a Tree of Life, and some beings described as having “the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.”
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Heaven?
What are dreams? What are visions? Are they real? Are they merely mental impulses? Is there some kind of heavenly-tech that conveys things like that? I’m not sure the means but maybe it’s heaven-tech!
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Heaven?
As a crossover contemporary/speculative novel, the supernatural experience of a vision or dream of Judgment Day compels Reuben toward finding resolution about the frightening thing that is Hell. But, moreso, the reality of such supernatural locations as Heaven and Hell as described in the Bible, help Reuben to understand and to treasure his life, his duty on earth, and God’s ways.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
Every Christian has had to face the death of an unsaved loved one. It is not an easy hurdle to jump, and is never a pleasant time. This book is fostered in the heart of someone who has faced the death of Muslim friends who have died without faith in Christ.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Any Christian you ask would honestly say that the idea of “hell” is the most repulsive of all doctrines Bible-believers are to hold to. This book is the journey of one man who discovers, through his brief journey into Judgment Day, the rhyme and reason behind such a place.
Faith-building “What-If” Fiction. Darlene is a thinker of big thoughts and a lover of nature’s message, and her words are a merger of both. Her fans enjoy being challenged by new people, strange places and old ideas helping them to think and grow like never before.
Darlene’s favorite genre to work in is near-future dystopia sci-fi, and her current “Pogland” dystopian trilogy is under consideration with publishers. It takes place in Los Angeles, has “aliens” and strange technology. As a native southern Californian, she likes to write about life and troubles there.
Her first work, Trunk of Scrolls, takes place in ancient Turkey and is available in paperback and ebook. Darlene is grateful for endorsements by Michael Horton, Darrell Bock, and Joel Beeke.
A native of San Diego, California, she studied Social Science at Westmont College, emphasizing ancient and modern Middle East, after which she received her teaching credentials. As she is connected to Westminster Theological Seminary of California, her speculative writing is confessionally reformed.
As an armchair student of natural theology, an ancient history aficionado, a methodical homeschool mother, and especially as a pastor’s wife in Turkey, Darlene loves bringing readers and students into a deeper appreciation of the depth and truths of Christianity.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)? Please include links.
Where can readers connect with you online?
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Heaven! Questions about the world or the book? Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!
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-Annie Douglass Lima