The Transmigrant is an alternative story about Jesus, focusing mainly on the so-called “lost years,” the part missing from the Bible. It shows Yeshua (Jesus) as a somewhat arrogant young man who yearns for only one thing in life: to be a priest. When Yeshua learns that a carpenter can never become a priest, he is devastated. Until one day, when he meets a Buddhist monk who tells him about the country Sindh in the Far East, where anyone can be a monk. So begins Yeshua’s journey in body and spirit, when he joins a camel caravan and travels across the Silk Road in search for enlightenment.
What enlightenment will Yeshua during his travels along the Silk Road? Kristi Saare Duarte, author of the travels in ‘The Transmigrant’ has kindly set aside a little time to illuminate the odyssey in this tale. Kristi, what thoughts or events encouraged you to initially explore the path that you book takes? Essentially, where did it all start?
Looking back, I’m not sure what pushed me to spend six years researching and writing about Jesus. I’m not religious at all. But it started one day in Calcutta, when I saw a book called “Jesus in India.” I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. And when I started my research, it dawned on me that it’s very likely that Jesus DID travel to India and that he studied Hinduism and Buddhism. It all makes sense.
‘Jesus in India’. I can’t say that’s something I’ve ever really considered before myself, but I can certainly see how that question would be tantalizing enough to kick off six years of research. Six years really is a non-trivial amount of time to put into a book. Do you feel that the book is primarily drawn from research and book learning, or were you able to infuse your own experiences into the book to give it more life?
I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve been to more than 75 countries across six continents. What I’ve found is that everyone is the same everywhere: everyone wants to be loved, to be safe, and have enough to eat for the day, and everyone wants to have fun. It doesn’t matter is you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. I believe that people were not so different from us 2,000 years ago.
Oh, I agree with you 100% there. People haven’t changed much at all, it’s mostly just the background and toys that look a little different. Even though people really haven’t changed over 2,000 years, it can still be tricky to nail down characters to make them feel real. Tell us a little bit about how your characters developed?
Yeshua – I talked to him a lot, asked him for guidance to tell the story the way he wanted to convey it. The others, Pema and Ramaa, two of the women Yeshua loves, just appeared when I was writing. but most of the characters are based on factual people, or at least probable factual people, depending on what you believe.
That phrase, ‘depending on what you believe’, to me feels like it could cause a huge problem for you as an author. What did you learn by tackling a tactful way to write about topics that are so emotionally charged for people?
That you can write critically without being offensive. I don’t particularly like religions, but I believe I have shown the positive as well as the negative in all of them.
Was showing the balance between the positive and negative in religions the central idea you wanted to share with your readers or was there another point that you feel holds more weight?
I wanted to write a book that shows that all faiths are based on love, and that we are all one. The man-made rules of religions have distorted their original message and have put priests and rabbis and gurus in charge. Honoring God? Pleasing God? Should be as easy as honoring your neighbor. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. We are all love and love is all we need.
I love that message. It’s so simple and just works. So, have you turned your pen towards another writing project that highlights the importance of love?
I’m working on the sequel – what happens to the disciples after Yeshua’s death and how they struggle to keep their faith alive when Paul appears with his alternate message.
An alternate message sounds like a fantastic new challenge, that I hope won’t take you six years to complete! After taking six years on this project, I’m curious to find out what your energy levels are like for your next project. Do you feel energized or exhausted by all of this writing that’s to come?
Writing energizes me. I could write day and night, but I do need sleep, too. Ha ha. And, I still have to work a day job to stay alive.
Those days jobs do feel pesky at times when you want to keep writing, but I do like their ability allow you to buy food. Food is important. Food also keeps your brain fuelled so that you can keep writing too. Once your brain is all fuelled up and you’re ready to go, what do find is at the forefront of your find as you write?
People who are spiritual, open-minded and curious. People who have lost faith in their religion, but are open to find an alternative (loving) way of thinking. It’s important to me to be non-judgmental and to accept all others, even though they are different than us.
Everyone is different, so I’m curious to find how about how you feel that your unique author voice has developed as you’ve kept writing. What changes have you observed with it?
It’s become more “real.” The more you write, the more natural your voice becomes. But I’m also a perfectionist, so I need the voice to flow and not be repetitive. It can only get better, right?
I hope so! That’s why I keep writing! Now that you’re seeing your voice becoming more real, have you turned your mind to how you want to brand this distinct voice?
I’m still working on it, but my author brand is a mixture of spirituality, travels, and a bit if sarcasm. I’m not a very serious person, and I think that has to show through. I’m mostly cultivating this brand on Facebook and Twitter right now.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the cultivation stage too. One of the things I always like to cultivate with the authors is a little bit of fun and humour, and I’m hoping you’d like to partake a few quirkier questions that I have in my question set. Oh, you’ll love the first question I have today, have you ever been on a literary pilgrimage?:
Yes. I visited India, Israel, Nepal, and Tibet when I was doing the research. I guess that’s called a literary pilgrimage…
Yep, research trips are a type of pilgrimage. And perhaps more fun than following a pilgrimage that is already well known because you get to make up all of the steps. Right, onto a little funny philosophy, can you cry underwater?
Yes. And every teardrop becomes a part of the ocean.
That’s an awesome answer. I’m not sure I’m going to look at the ocean the same way again! Keeping up with the awesome, what’s your favourite word?
Nice choice. The next question is something you have less choice on, but I’m still curious to find out, what’s your zodiac sign?
Cancer born in the year of the Monkey. I’m more a monkey than a crab, personality-wise.
Hmmm, I wonder if you’re more a monkey with crab claws. It’s an interesting combination that might just work!
Who are your gurus?
That’s a great question! And one that can’t be left unanswered, so, who are your gurus?
I believe our higher self is our best teacher. We are all humans with flaws, and no single person has all the knowledge. Having said that, there are many people whom I admire and who inspire me to be a better person: HH the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, Marianne Williamson, Shirley McLaine, Louise Hay, among many others. I admire kindness and wisdom.
Now that’s an inspiration list worth sharing! And on the topic of sharing, I’d like to thank you for sharing your book with us today, and I hope our journey through the pages of ‘The Transmigrant’ has sparked the curiosity of readers enough that they share your journey.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Transmigrant ( ASIN: B06ZZ8JRG4 )‘.
Want to find out more about Kristi Saare Duarte? Connect here!