Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday, September 10, 2006

By Wallace Dorian

"Desert Rain" is an unusual road drama about an award-winning documentary filmmaker named Cynthia Ryan, who is on an odyssey of self-discovery. I also take her into her "heart of darkness." But unlike Joseph Conrad’s famous classic, Cynthia’s journey takes her into America’s southwest while making a film on the mystical Hopi Indians, their lore and their prophecies.

Using the formula of the journey, I attempt to bring a kind of epic scope to this contemporary western while at the same time sharing a somewhat apocalyptic vision of the future that ends on an optimistic note. Thus, while the story is told through Cynhia's weary eyes, it is also told through Mary, a half-Hopi eighteen-year-old who not only represents her culture, but a generation that seeks it’s own self-identity in a world that has become more technologically complicated while fraught with an uncertain future.

In the midst of all this comes Jack Carlson, Mary's estranged father who is a rodeo cowboy drifter whom she has not seen in nine years. Cynthia and Jack also meet and it is through Jack, acting as Cynthia's guardian angel, that she comes to grips with the ghost that haunts her past. This past forms the haunting climax of “Desert Rain.”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

An Interview with Wallace Dorian

By Barbara Kowal

It was a wet Los Angeles afternoon when I went to visit Wallace Dorian about his new novel entitled "Desert Rain" which seemed apropos given the title of his book.

BK (Barbara Kowal): Desert Rain is your first novel, correct?

WD (Wallace Dorian): Yes. The story of how I came to write it is a journey in itself. Most of my writing has been screenplays and stage plays. In fact, I just recently adapted the book into a screenplay.

BK: I see. Your story has a lot of water in it.

WD: Yes, it does. For the Hopi, and all of us for that matter, water and rain is an essential part of our lives. Water has many meanings. It sustains life and grows crops for our food. Water can also be the very thing that kills us as we saw in the recent Katrina hurricane disaster.

BK: Indeed. It is also the cause of your heroine's death.

WD: Yes, but in her death there is the idea of rebirth or reincarnation. The Hopi have an old proverb, "In death, I am born." How I convey that at the very end of the story, while subtle, still packs a punch I think.

BK: Yes, it does.

WD: So you got it?

BK: Absolutely. The story also has a very haunting quality to it. It seems to have all the mythic elements that a good story should have, the hero’s journey but with a new-age sensibility.

WD: I thought of this woman entering the arena of the southwest desert, mainly Arizona and New Mexico. I wanted the main character to be a woman because I believe we are in the age of the matriarch or the goddess as it were. I also try to convey the idea of a woman's struggle with forces in a male dominated world and of course there is also the theme of suicide.

BK: Yes, Cynthia's teen-age son. So in a sense she is making a comeback.

WD: Not just a comeback but coming out of isolation or exile if you will and suffering a breakdown due to extreme guilt.

BK: How did you come by the Native American theme?

WD: Naturally, in thinking about the Southwest I thought of the Native Americans and did a lot of research from already existing material and books about the Anasazi, Pueblo and Navajo. But what really struck me as more intriguing were the Hopi Indians and the idea of the Kachina cult. Thus, I used some of the ancient Hopi stories and prohecies that weave themselves very subtly into the fabric of the novel.

BK: One of the interesting characters is an eighteen-year-old girl who is half-Hopi and her coming of age as well.

WD: Mary, whose Hopi name is Kuwanyauma, symbolizes for me, the new emerging generation of Hopi in a high-tech, frenzied world that, for the Native Americans, tries to cut them off from their native roots. In that sense, Mary represents a symbol of hope for her people and one that will endure. It is also the struggle of Mary’s self-identity in a world that wants her to conform to the status quo as it were and of course the tense relationship Mary has with her single mother Amber, who is trying to forget her Hopi roots and assimilate into an Anglo society. I also show how the native lands to this day are being raped and exploited by corporate greed.

BK: The scene where Mary is at a street demonstation protesting.

WD: Yes.

BK: The story opens up 500 years ago when Coronado was trying to conquer the City of Cibola or seven cities of gold. You have a scene where this mother is telling her small son a story about their past then later they are murdered by Conquistadors.

WD: Yes. Ironically, the prologue came about after I wrote the first draft of the book and developed Mary’s story a bit more fully from the original version. This idea of storytelling to carry on one’s respect and love of their culture.

BK: What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

WD: I believe the story has universal appeal and is not just about Hopi or Native American culture. I think it speaks to all of us about the nature of love, loss, family and tradition that everyone can relate to. I just try to convey it in a literary and emotional way. I also hope the book might strike a nerve with young adults and teens as well.

BK: Good luck with it.

WD: Thank you.

(Barbara Kowal is a freelance book reviewer)


In "Desert Rain," there is an old Navajo-Hopi holy man named John Lone Eagle. Although I created him to be a fictional "elder" in my story, some of the prophecies that he mentions are not fictional, but actual fact. The genesis of Hopi lore and prophecy is amazingly accurate and many of the prophecies regarding world events have already come to pass. I'll let the reader decide what the future holds. Below is a link that will tell you more about Hopi prophecy.