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Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

The question writers are most often asked is: “Where do you get your ideas?”

I’ve realized only in recent weeks that there was a moment fifty years ago that contained the germ of every novel I would write. I didn’t recognize it at the time. I discarded it as a random and rather silly thought.

Highway Hypnosis?

It occurred as I was driving on the Beltline around Raleigh, on my way to do an interview for an article. I asked myself, What do I most want to write about?

A thick green wall of trees ran along both sides of the road.  My eyes followed the intricate rising-and-falling line of treetops and I thought: “That’s what I want to write about, the place where the leaves meet the sky.”

I had to laugh. This was not an idea for a story or a novel. This was definitely not a career path.

Four And Counting…

And yet now fifty years later, I realize that it was the germ of my four wildly different novels. Every one of them is about spirit—the supernatural—alive in the physical world.  The book I hope will be next also fits the pattern.

It’s a metaphor, of course—leaves against the sky. But then the sky also goes by the name of  “the heavens.”  I couldn’t have come up with a more precise image for my overall theme if I tried. 

The Trees and The Heavens

It’s particularly true in my new novel  My Life On Earth And Elsewhere, in which sixteen year-old Darcy has an out-of-body experience that leads her to meet a spirit boy named Risto. One reviewer pointed out my theme. “What makes this novel so compelling, and so charming,” writes Mark Pinsky in the New York Journal of Books, “is that it focuses on that point where the natural encounters the supernatural.”

And why did I ever choose this central idea? Well, what could be more compelling than the idea that the visible universe is only a piece of our story?

“Floating, Swimming, Ethereal”

The greater universe idea gives me a feeling of huge expansiveness, at times a sort of gleeful optimism. I especially treasure feedback from readers who speak of a similar reaction: From Swanna in San Diego on Facebook: “I felt that I too was floating, swimming, ethereal… I think I will be forever changed, and always looking out for signs of things I do not know.”

In writing such a story, I’m asking others–I’m asking you–to join me in this feeling. And I’d love to know of your own mystical experiences.




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  • July 1, 2023 at 10:32 pm Reply

    I may have already told you about this one: My husband was moved to Hospice on March 2nd. I was there with him that night until about 10 pm, and then our son and his daughter took over the vigil (so to speak). I didn’t sleep well that night and at about 7:40 am, I was lying in bed, awake, but not fully. I heard my name spoken as clearly as if he were still in the next room. I sat up in bed and said…”Jim, is that you?” and at that moment, I knew he must have passed away. When my daughter and granddaughter came to get me, I thought they said “Papa is all right” but they said “He is gone.” so I dressed and we went to the Hospice facility, where they told me his death had been called at 7:35 am. I got cold chills when I realized i had had a visitation! I has since happened 2 more times, and I am profoundly grateful for each one. Another time, I was reading a book and a certain set of words kept superimposing themselves onto the lines I was reading. Many years ago, Jim and I read a book called “There is a River” and he told me that whichever one of us died first, should contact the other, using that book title. You guessed it: the words that I saw superimposed over the book lines was “There is a River.” I am sure there are some who will think I am lying or exaggerating – but I swear it happened!

    • Peggy Payne
      July 2, 2023 at 3:26 am Reply

      I believe you, Judy. And thank you for writing about this. I’m glad these things happened for you. And it’s a gift to hear about them; it is further evidence that we live on and that no one is lost. And There Is A River is the title of the Edgar Cayce biography, yes? Good choice. May these visits happen often…

  • July 2, 2023 at 3:42 am Reply

    Yes, Peggy, you’re right. That book had a profound impact on both of us.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 2, 2023 at 1:45 pm Reply

      The book has stuck with me as well.

  • Julie
    July 26, 2023 at 9:07 pm Reply

    I remember driving with my boyfriend on Walnut and traffic stopped while we were on the overpass over US 1. It was 2015 and we were both exhausted and demoralized by some really tough life years. I still remember looking up at the tallest evergreens from the passenger seat, and saying to him “I don’t think we’re going to ever find our way out of this with our minds and bodies being unhealthy. I think we need to get healthier, eat better and exercise more because then we will be capable of seeing new options, thinking about things differently.”
    Things have changed since then, a lot of things most certainly not in ways I would’ve hoped for, but that revelation, and it really was, I remember that moment very clearly and still live by it.” I’m much healthier. And far more creative, in how I conceptualize life and the way I live it.
    Thank you so much for posting your experience. It really invited me to reconsider something that remains very important to me.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 27, 2023 at 8:02 pm Reply

      Julie, thank you for this wonderful story. Those trees do seem inspiring–and imparting real wisdom. And it’s terrific that the effect has lasted so long. Looks as if it will be with you the rest of the way!

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