I am a lawyer, inventor, and now a writer; that much is 100% true. It’s also 100% true that I have traveled a lot – in the United States, Europe and the Far East. When my son got older, he told me he thought I was a spy when he was younger because I was gone so much. I assured him he was mistaken, it was his youthful imagination, but the twinkle in my eye made him doubtful. In his mind, where I was all those times I was gone will be one of life’s enigmas.
Another enigma is where this story began. Having completed a doctor’s deposition at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C., I saw a flyer tacked on a crowded bulletin board in the hallway outside of a conference room. It read, “Unexplained Enigmas: The Near-Death Experiences of Children.” It just so happened I had a few hours to kill and this symposium was scheduled to begin nearby in Regents Hall at 2:00 pm. I listened intently as Dr. Peter Lucent talked about his book, The Inner Light, covering the fascinating near-death experiences of children – from toddlers to teenagers – all whose souls literally “came back” from death.
After his lecture ended, I bought a signed copy of his book and voraciously read it in one day. One character in particular fascinated me. She survived a horrible catastrophe, and during her clinical experience she chronicled her amazing story of survival, heartbreak, depression, rebirth, and ultimate redemption. I contacted Dr. Lucent and asked if he might arrange for me to meet his former patient, whom I shall call “Amanda Michaels.” He said I could if I agreed to never use her real name, or any friends or family members’ names, and I readily consented. Over the weeks and months that followed I had unfettered access to “Amanda,” her uncle “Andy,” and most of her key acquaintances. About two years after the final interview, I completed this manuscript.
My editor gave me two key reasons this book had to be categorized as a work of fiction: 1) we changed the characters’ names and used poetic license to spice up a number of scenes; and 2) a government intelligence agency requested a number of changes to several chapters, citing national security issues. At first, I vehemently protested. We all know that fact is stranger than fiction. But eventually, I relented, so it is now officially “fiction,” prefaced by this explanation.
-- R. N. Shapiro
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