After the first three novels in the Booker Series were published, I thought the series had run its course, and so I moved on to write another different kind of book. Then, without provocation, I had a very lucid dream where I came upon Pueblo tribal friends from the Booker novels in full regalia doing ceremony on the edge of what seemed to be a dried-up lakebed. I awoke with an intense desire to know what they were doing, and so I began to write titles to explain the scene. I know that I wrote and rejected nearly fifty titles until the words Dead Water Rites fell into place. My Indian family was conducting a funeral ceremony for a former living-water source! That realization led me on research trips back to the Southwest and a year-long devotion to writing the novel.
Every Earth Day in April, my wife Pat and I are reminded of our American Indian inspired relationship to water as spoken by Joseph, Pueblo Indian Holy Man, in the novel Dead Water Rites (2000). Let us share these words with you.
“By spirit, we are inwardly connected and reciprocally related. We are flowing into each other like water within a stream, our individual surfaces mere sense organs of the passage. Knowing this, our joy in the moments of the flow should be boundless. We are a rhythmical process in time and space; and because of the sensitivity of our boundary surfaces, we are Earth’s cosmic sense organ.
We are water—formed into embryo out of water; first fed by liquids; nourished because water dissolves solids; existing because no chemical process can occur without water as the neutral, mediating and dissolving element. Water absorbs energy and transports it. It creates climate. It balances. It harmonizes.
Let us honor the virtues of our substance. Man is baptized of water to receive its nature, to arise clean and pure as Creation intended. Like water, man should be the great healer in striving for a living balance. Like water, he should be a mediator between substances, a peacemaker in regard to hostility. Like water, man should desire nothing for himself. His function is to refresh, heal, strengthen, revive, and clarify. Like water, man should be open to light, transparent in motivation, eyes to the visible world and ears to what is audible. Like water, man should be in eternal circulation between Earth and the cosmos.
Now Brother and Sister, look at your fingertips, the means by which you touch the world. Your fingerprint is the pattern of an individual vortex just as your voice has its unique patterns. These are the vibrations of identity. Our words are the flowing out of creative recognition. The stream of meaning crosses the void between one realized life to another in an attempt at unity and cooperation. Water and speech flow with equal purpose. We must believe that, in the end, all life comes together in peace and harmony.”
Three of the most important mentors in my life read Dead Water Rites and were kind enough to comment on it.
“Dead Water Rites strikes like a lightning bolt at the heart of an issue critical to our survival. Monty Joynes’s work is Spirit driven.”
Red Leaf, Cherokee Choctaw Elder
“As an Indian reader of Dead Water Rites, I am left with the feeling of having been well instructed not only to the potential catastrophe of a waterless West from the environmentalist point of view, but by one whose joint characters ‘Booker’ and ‘Anglo’ look with great insight into the real threat posed by thoughtless ‘progressives’ to the sacredness of water and life in general.”
Cherokee Elder Lloyd Kiva New
“What Monty Joynes has accomplished in Dead Water Rites, his fourth book in the remarkable Booker Series, is the rare joining of a page-turning story line, lively with action and memorable characters, together with a sustained poetic meditation on the power and glory of water in the world. The spiritual vision, the outward and inner lives of the invincible Southwestern Indians, are beautifully summoned up and celebrated. Dead Water Rites is a powerful story and a pure pleasure to read.” George Garrett