Editor’s note: The author of this interview, a noted publicist, passed away suddenly shortly after submitting this piece for publication. We honor the passion and love that he shared throughout his life.
The Barn Dance is James Twyman’s 13th book, and his most personal to date. Though known internationally as The Peace Troubadour and the author of many bestselling books like Emissary of Light and The Moses Code, the Twin Cities native became even more well known when the news of his former wife’s murder outside Chicago was reported around the country. Nearly five years later, Twyman is releasing a book that not only chronicles the tragedy, but dives into the mystery of life after death, and direct communication with loved ones on the other side of the veil.
The book has already been called a triumph, and in the few short weeks since its release, has inspired thousands. Neale Donald Walsch, the author of The Conversations with God series, said: “Once in every generation a book comes along that changes the way we look at life itself. This is one such book.”
Now, in this very personal interview, Twyman explains why he felt inspired to tell such an intimate story, as well as how he thinks it will help people who are also suffering from the loss of a loved one.
First of all, it must have been a very difficult story to tell. Clearly Linda meant a great deal to you and you felt compelled to honor her memory through The Barn Dance.
James Twyman: Linda did mean a tremendous amount to me. She was my first love and I never stopped trying to win her back. She was actually considering moving out to Oregon to be with our daughter and me when she was killed.
You’re right when you say that I wanted to honor her with this story, but there’s also a deeper reason. I wrote this book because I knew that everyone would be able to relate to it, regardless of whether they’ve suffered a similar type of loss or not. We’ve all had to say goodbye to loved ones, and we’ve all had to experience grief in our lives. But the idea that there really is a magical place in-between Heaven and Earth is very deep in our subconscious. We all would love to meet someone we’ve lost, someone who is on the other side of the veil, and The Barn Dance is a way for us to realize that dream.
JT: That’s been one of the most satisfying things about the experience so far – all the positive feedback I’ve been getting. I’ve received so many letters from people saying that they couldn’t put it down once they began reading, often from people who say they rarely finish books they begin. They’re also passing it on once they’ve finished reading, which is what any author wants. That’s how a book becomes a best seller, by touching an emotional chord in people. I think of The Shack, an enormous bestseller that never really had any advertising. It was all through word of mouth. Of course I hope the same thing happens here, because I think it’s a story that will both entertain and inspire. I didn’t want to write a book about life after death. I wanted to write one about my experience, one that deeply impacted my life. And if people relate to my experience, then it will be a big success.
You mentioned The Shack, which was a huge success. Are there any correlations between that book and The Barn Dance?
JT: No, I really don’t think there are. Both books begin with the protagonist experiencing the murder of someone very important to them, but I have to say that that’s where the similarity ends. At the same time, The Shack challenged the way people view God and our relationship with the Divine. In that sense, they have a similar theme. The Barn Dance is really challenging our ideas about what happens when we cross over, and the possibility that we can have true, even face-to-face contact with the loved ones we’ve lost. In my story I find a place where Heaven and Earth seem to blend together and people from the other side find their way back to the physical world, even if it’s just to have a great party.
Has anyone told you that you might be taking advantage of her death by writing this book?
JT: It’s something that I’ve tried to be aware of, even though I’m very secure in my reasons for releasing The Barn Dance. First of all, this is a story that will inspire people, and one that they probably won’t be able to set down. That was my primary objective…to show that death is not an end, but a beginning. But the other reason is definitely more personal. I wanted to write a book that would honor the woman who changed my life and taught me about love and how to be a good father. I also hope that it will continue to bring attention to a case that is still very much unsolved. That’s one of the reasons I’m very interested in getting The Barn Dance into every bookstore in Chicago, as well as around the world.
The story really develops when you find out that someone has been arrested for her murder. Is that true?
JT: Yes, it’s very true. And yet at the same time, the police are being very careful, which we all understand. One of the things I was really impressed with was how personally the police and detectives were taking this case. It was almost as if Linda was their sister, as if the same thing could have happened to someone they love.
How much of this story is actually true? It’s one of the most magical books to be released in a long time, but there are bound to be questions about whether this is fact or fiction.
JT: That’s a hard question to answer since the story takes place at different times and on different dimensions. To me it’s completely true, and I’m never going to back down from that. What I can say for sure is that every detail about Linda and my life with her is not exaggerated, and as far as the barn goes, that’s something people are going to be asking about for a very long time.
If there’s only one lesson you hope people walk away with after reading this book, what would it be?
JT: I want people to believe in magic, and to know that life is not something that ends with the death of the body. Of course, most of us believe that already, at least mentally, but to have a tangible experience of that, even if it’s through a story like The Barn Dance, makes it very real. I really do believe that there’s a place between Heaven and Earth where the magic never ends. For me that was in a secluded barn in the middle of a magical forest. For the rest of us, it could be anywhere and everywhere. We just have to open our eyes to see it.
For more information on James Twyman, please visit www.JamesTwyman.com.