Interview with Robert Bonomo

Your latest novel, 'Your Love Incomplete', goes deeply into esoteric topics. How did you get interested in the occult?
I have always been interested in religion, and in my twenties I got quite involved with Zen. About five years ago, looking for a strong narrative structure, I started exploring the Tarot and realized that the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot were a fabulous narrative frame. But the more I got involved with the Tarot, the more I realized that to understand the cards, one has to also be knowledgeable in Kabbalah, astrology and alchemy, and from there I moved on to Gnosticism and before I knew it, I was completely enveloped in the esoteric world. Part of this exploration is explored in the novel.
The subtitle of 'Your Love Incomplete' is- 'An escape from the Matrix'. What does that really mean?
'Your Love Incomplete' is about waking up to the Matrix. What I mean by the Matrix is the web of social, financial and religious control that we are subjected to through television, Hollywood, the corporations, the banking system, the political system and even the food we eat. In the novel, the main character starts ‘waking up’ through his obsession with conspiracy theories, and little by little, he begins to understand the complexity of the entire Matrix.
On your blog, thecactusland.com, you describe yourself as a ‘late blooming anarchist’. How did that happen?
I suppose I have always been somewhat attracted to political extremes. I remember as a teenager being very intrigued by the far left and I spent my twenties and thirties as a left leaning, NPR listening, New Yorker reading liberal. But the financial crisis of the 2008 and the seamless way in which Wall Street moved from controlling the Bush Administration to the Obama Administration really made me rethink my entire political outlook. I began to see government as a tool of special interests and as the biggest purveyor of violence in the world. My whole worldview changed, including the way I looked at nationalism, history and economics. Now I am convinced the people's biggest enemy is the state itself.
How did you connect esotericism and anarchism in 'Your Love Incomplete'?
It's a fundamental part of the novel. If you wake up to the political and financial matrix as a massive form of social control, the immediate response is a political one, which then leads to revolutionary and unconventional ideas, but in the end, the goal is to rest power away from the ruling class and hopefully create something better. But then what? I think for most people this political battle is enough, but for many, it leaves them empty. That's where the esoteric ideas come in. Just as the political and financial system controls one's outer life, the exoteric religious dogmas control the inner life and there needs to be a revolution there too. You not only have to rid yourself of patriotic dogma, dualistic political thinking, and an enslaving financial system, but also Yahweh and his spiritual enslavement. Only then is one free. I like to call it esoteric/anarchism.
You have lived and worked in many countries- Argentina, Spain, the United States and even Russia. How has living in all these places effected you as a writer?
It has been crucial for me. Each time I began living in a new country, more layers of useless and inhibiting beliefs were washed away until eventually I have been able to reach some level of personal authenticity. I really don’t think I had a genuine understanding of the world or myself until I was forty. So much of what we are told and taught as youngsters is nothing but social control- pure manipulation. For me, living in so many different countries has allowed me to see that. Maybe other folks don’t need that type of ‘cleansing’, but for me it has been a crucial part of my development. I'm quite convinced that if I had never left the States, I would have wound up a Naval officer. It sounds almost absurd now, considering my current political ideas, but I really think having lived in so many countries has been the key to opening my eyes to reality.
For a period you were a frequent contributor to some of the most important alternative media sites like Infowars.com, Globalresearch.ca, Rense.com and others, but you have stopped writing for them. Why?
For a couple of reasons. First off, I wanted to concentrate on writing 'Your Love Incomplete', so I had planned to get back to that type of writing once I published the novel. But something happened while writing 'Your Love Incomplete' that has made it difficult for me to feel comfortable continuing to be a part of the alternative scene. Getting back in the trenches again and attacking the system didn't feel useful to me or anyone else. I want to try and raise the bar and start writing articles that can transcend the dualism, the US vs. THEM mentality which is so prevalent in both the mainstream and alternative media. Also, I had the feeling I was beginning to repeat myself so until I find something that is truly original, at least for me, I will hold off. Let’s face it, if you have read enough columns by Krugman or Friedman, for example, there comes a point when you know what they are going to say. I don’t want to fall into that trap, and it's a trap that comes with preaching to the choir. I want to start preaching on the street corner.
You have done some edgy things using guerrilla marketing tactics to promote your books, including claiming you were short listed for the Oprah Winfrey Book Club Selection. Did you go too far?
In retrospect, I probably went too far with that one, and got called out on it by the folks at Mediabistro.com On the other hand, I really believed in my third novel, 'Cactus Land', and I was at a loss on how to make a splash with it. I knew just enough about natural search to get myself in trouble, so I played around with some of the keywords and got on the first page for some related terms. Then again, writers should be willing to take some risks and break some rules not only with their writing but with their promotions. I think too many writers nowadays are products of masters programs in creative writing and have lost that anarchistic flavor that we have always been known for. Until twenty or thirty years ago, there was no ‘school’ for writers as there was for painters, musicians, dancers and the like. We were self made, but I'm afraid that's not so much the case not any more.
Talking about promotion, you had a rather successful career in advertising and marketing before you gave it up to write full time. What made you take the leap?
A few things. First of all, I was tired of manipulating peoples thoughts in order to get them to buy things they didn't need and do things that were not in their interest. I will never forget working on an Army campaign to get folks to enlist, and hearing someone in the agency complain that we needed to start a war with Iran to really get the campaign into gear. It got to the point were I was completely disgusted with what I was doing. Maybe hitting forty also had something to do with it. For a long time professional success was really important to me, the title, the money, the prestige, but gradually those things fell into the background and I realized that if I didn't devote myself to what I was really passionate about, I was going to become miserable. I can honestly say that I have never regretted leaving that life.
What other writers, thinkers and artists have been a major influence on you?
From an early age, Carl Jung has been very important for me, but I don't think I really didn't captured any of his depth until recently, especially with the publication of the Red Book. In the last few years I have become very interested in the work of Terence McKenna. Finding Terence McKenna was like finding a new, dear friend. I think I have listened to all is talks, hundreds of hours of them. I have also been very influenced by Stephan Hoeller, probably the most important Gnostic teacher in America. And the older I get, the more I like Bach.
How do you write?
I need a pretty tight outline, so I generally spend months, if not years, mapping out the story as well as researching it. Once I have the plot and chapter summaries done, I usually pick a start date, and from there I knock out 1,000 words a day until I'm done. That gives me a horrible first draft. Then it's revise, revise and revise some more until I can’t stand it any longer, and I send it off to some folks to get feedback, make the final revisions based on their feedback, and then I am done.
How do you feel digital books have changed publishing?
I distinctly remember around 1999 or 2000 when I was working for an online ad network I had lunch with a guy from MP3.com, which at the time, was a player in the online music world. He told us the music business was basically dead, at least the old model of it. I didn't believe him. I mean, I had spent practically all my pocket money as a kid on albums, how could the music business as we knew it, paying for content, be dead? But I remember going back to the office and seeing everyone downloading music from Napster and I realized he was right. I think publishing is about where music was in 2000. It's going to be very difficult for publishers to continue as they once did- the paradigm is changing. The key is still to write good stories, but the old system of literary agents guarding the door to publishers who distributed through retailers is gone. Also, kids just don't read as much as we did. Multimedia formats are going to overtake the book. I think we as writers have to accept this. We are going to become much less relevant to the future unless we embrace and explore new formats.
What are you working on now?
My next novel will be a financial thriller. I am enjoying planning it, and I hope to begin writing soon and have a first draft done by the first half of 2014. I am going to collapse the entire world financial system, and with it, the Matrix that upholds it. It should be a blast to write!
Published 2013-09-02.
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Books by This Author

Your Love Incomplete
Price: Free! Words: 106,260. Language: English. Published: August 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical
Arthur Edwards had a cushy Silicon Valley marketing job but his taste for conspiracy theories and the guidance of a mysterious esotericist begin to open his eyes to the Matrix. His hardboiled path to awakening will take him from the SF Bay Area to the far reaches of Russia. Your Love Incomplete is The Razor’s Edge for the digital age- a must read for all those searching for the courage to wake up.
Twilight Breakout
Price: Free! Words: 47,260. Language: English. Published: August 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
What happens to a hard boiled, less than upstanding young man when he finds out that his own demise has become seemingly imminent? Twilight Breakout follows Johnny Lynch on his gut wrenching journey from South Florida to Spain as he comes to terms with his own mortality.
Cactus Land
Price: Free! Words: 55,970. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
The unease of a world unraveling is the essence of our time and of Cactus Land. In an unknown country plagued by vague wars and illusory terror, six people grapple with truth, love, and the end of time as we know it.