A midnight phone call rarely brings good news. This idea sparked the opening scene for one of the Q.C. Davis mysteries, The Fractured Man. But it didn’t inspire the plot.
I say “industry” because I love self-help minus the industry.
Tony Robbins' book Awaken The Giant Within helped me reframe my thoughts and overcome anxiety when it was a real struggle. Other books on happiness, productivity, and success helped me make career changes and improve my relationships.
But self-help has dark sides. I've fallen prey to one myself – the conviction that what works for me will also fix everyone else I know.
Most of us do this now and then but catch ourselves. A friend tells us that yoga might be the only exercise that works for us, but they prefer running. (Though why anyone does I don't know – apologies to runners.) And we listen and stop pushing yoga. Or whatever our favorite exercise is.
But when a company or group is aiming to make a lot of money from self-help, it often pushes members to recruit others. Unfortunately, often the message is that anyone who doesn’t see the light is no doubt miserable, failing to live up to their potential, or evil. (To be fair, that's the way many types of ads and sales pitches work, not just self-help.) And the only fix, of course, is to pay to join the movement, attend classes, worship the guru, etc.
The person doing the recruiting may act out of care and concern but forget to listen to the “it's not for me” part. That creates a lot of conflict.
That's what gave me the idea for The Fractured Man.
Quille's long-lost friend returns to her, seeking help because his boss is dead. The boss was a high level member of Seminar, a fictional self-help organization.
To create the organization, I researched books, blogs, forums, and documentaries about different self-help groups and organizations. Including my fave Tony Robbins. (Check out the documentary I Am Not Your Guru if you’re curious.) I did my best to find sources that covered the pros and cons of each.
Every organization or guru I looked into had in fact helped many people, as does Seminar. But Seminar has a dark side, too. And Quille's friend's dedication to it keeps him from telling Quille the whole truth.
Which puts both their lives at risk.
Also key to sparking the story is the question of what we owe childhood friends we’ve outgrown. But that’s a topic for another time.
P.S. The Fractured Man also is available in a Large Print Edition.
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