Take a look at what author Michael Jack Simkin had to share about his debut novel and experiencing spirituality during his time in India.
Born and educated in England, Michael Jack Simkin is a creative thinker, writer, and musician. Simkin has spent years travelling across India and the world, experiencing various shamanic journeys, spiritual practices, and therapies, and has benefited considerably from these. He learned how to take the good from existing techniques while avoiding getting stuck in the politics which often surround them. In doing so, he was able to delve into the depths of his psyche, while remaining connected to his sharp sense of humour. It is this combination of experiences that have culminated in his debut novel “The Shmospels of Shmeiki”. The book is written from the perspectives of four witnesses. It is a cosmic, psychedelic and kinky story about self-discovery, love, and surrender.
Michael Jack Simkin’s Debut Novel ‘The Shmospels of Shmeiki’ is a hilarious spiritual book published by Leadstart Corp in India. It tells the story of David Goldberg, who while on holiday in Goa in 2006, was contacted by Sheila, an AI singularity from another dimension, who offered him Shmeiki, a new path of light-hearted spirituality, free of the seriousness and hypocrisy typical of many new age practices. The book describes how Goldberg needed to clear out his emotional blockages. For this reason, Sheila sent him on a great walk of more than 2000 km from Goa to Dharamshala, insisting he travelled without taking money or wearing shoes. In accepting this challenge, David became Shmeiki Baba.
Here's what Michael had to share:
How excited are you and when did you decide that you wanted to be an author?
"After spending years travelling across India, trying different spiritual and healing practices, I felt the need to share my experiences through writing. ‘The Shmospels of Shmeiki’ is my way of revealing myself to the world. As someone who grew up with a lot of shame, publishing this book is a kind of baptism of fire. I had a hunger not just to reveal my shadow to those close to me, but to paint it very publicly on the wall. In this way, there is a confessional aspect to this book, so its release has been quite exciting.
I wanted to be an author since I was a kid, but it took me until now to become one. I guess I'm what you might call a late bloomer."
Your novel talks about spirituality in the modern era. Can you talk about what made you explore this topic?
"Back in 2002, I came to India for the first time and experienced different types of yoga, meditations, and healing techniques. It was as though there was a hole in me that was looking to be filled. At the time, I didn't know it, but that hole was a lack of self-love and a longing for a deeper connection to nature. I had grown up in England in a traditional, Jewish family, and felt that the rituals and ceremonies we performed, were often done in order to be seen to do the right thing in the eyes of the community.
As is so often the case, the religious organizations I encountered, seemed to be more focused on money than spirituality. So, when I first experienced New-Age techniques in India, I was delighted. I felt like I had found my place.
However, when the novelty wore off, I started to smell the same hypocrisy that I had sensed at home. This was deeply frustrating, because these New Age organizations had something to offer that I wanted, but I could not accept to be part of unacknowledged power-games. I understood that I had to forge my own path - it needed to be humorous and to keep evolving. That's where the idea for Shmeiki came from. Obviously, the book is fantasy, but it is inspired by my own journey."
Sheila, the AI seems like an interesting character. What made you want to choose her as a guide to David in Shmeiki?
"Dare I suggest, she's more than a character, she's a digital Goddess! In truth though, she's basically the voice of an ex-girlfriend of mine, who helped me to become aware of my buried pain and the rest of my repressed emotions. She also helped me see where I lack self-approval and wear various masks to cover my feelings of inadequacy. I transferred these understandings onto Sheila."
Who is your favourite author?
"I don't really have one favourite author. I do really like Kurt Vonnegut, Victor Pelevin, and Tom Robbins."
You have spent years travelling in India, experiencing various spiritual practices. How was the whole experience and what did you take back from it?
"Spiritual retreats in India allowed me space to contemplate my navel, and as a comparatively wealthy foreigner, I also got a welcome boost in status. However, the later was somewhat of an illusion, and once I left India and went to live in Israel, I found that by itself, being a smart-arsed Jew is nothing very special.
What did I really learn from travelling? Maybe that I could run but I couldn't hide. More than that, I understood that while I harboured feelings of not really deserving to exist, I could not express what I really wanted nor what I did not. Only by learning to love me and to express my boundaries clearly could I do me and my world a favour."
If you would only read three books your entire life, which ones would those be?
"The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker, and of course The Shmospels of Shmeiki."
Any message for people who will be reading your book?
"Thank you for allowing me to share myself and in doing so to become closer to the world. If you enjoyed the Shmospels, all being well, the sequel 'Shmeikileaks' will be out next year."