Dr. Stephen M. Thompson answers my questions about lucid dreaming, the Chagos Islands and his novel “Coma Story”. When fiction meets History.

Good morning Stephen, welcome on “Veronika Asks”! Could you please briefly introduce yourself? Then, if you could describe yourself – and Coma Story – with three adjectives…

Thanks for having me. My name is Stephen, I’m a working author who lives in St. Peters, Missouri. I got drifted from Singapore to the U.S. just before the millennium bug.

Me: Creative, Motivated, Kind

My book: Humorous, Shocking, Enlightening

In your novel Coma Story, coma survivor Aldan Foy and Diego Garcia native Tarzan conspire to get back the Chagos Islands – without rioting and violence. What sparked the idea for Coma Story? Why did you base your novel on the Diego Garcia depopulation?

Let me give a real brief blurb first. Coma Story is an alternate history fiction based on a recent unfortunate event, i.e. the merciless depopulation of Diego Garcia Island (once part of Mauritius) by the British to help the U.S. build a massive military base. Aldan Foy, when in coma, gets into the habit of lucid dreaming. Along with his native friend Tarzan, he finds a way to get back the islands from the superpowers – without a fight.

However, he wakes up after four years and realizes nothing’s changed. Then he starts recollecting his dreams. Coma “recovery” was the main theme with which I started the book. Lucid dreaming followed as an after thought. Integrating the plight of the Chagossian people was kind of a miracles bold idea, as I stumbled upon their unthinkable history during a non-related research. Though it’s a dark subject, the novel is very inspirational at many levels and fun to read – or at least that’s the feedback I have been receiving.

Why lucid dreaming?

Good question. But tell me, what would one do in coma when trapped in his or her non-responsive body, but then aware of what’s happening around? Hypothetically, all that one could do is dream. To add a clever element, I inserted the scientifically proved concept of lucid dreaming into the story. Believe me, I spent countless hours reading about lucid dreaming, which is indeed a fascinating subject. I just fell down the rabbit hole, I guess.

Your descriptions are very colorful; you seem to know a lot about the life and story of the Chagossians. Could you describe “the making of” Coma Story? Did you make researches? Did you travel to Mauritius?

That’s a question I have been asked a lot and I take it as a compliment. No, I did not had the opportunity to visit Mauritius nor had the privilege to meet a single Chagos islander so far. However, as I started writing I reached out to various organizations, that had been working on many spectrum of the Chagos situation. Though my research progression was not easy, I was lucky to get in touch with some awesome people from various sectors – military, social activists, politicians and service groups. Then again, Internet and local libraries were great assets as well. Since this is a sensitive subject from a military perspective (then again, it’s about real people who are still suffering), I had to go through strange challenges in finding middle ground. No wonder, it took two years to complete Coma Story.

You say Coma Story is “in no way an attempt at a definitive history of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) deportation during the Cold War nor a catalyst for any anti-base”. What is it, in that case? What is the purpose of the novel?

I would like to emphasize that Coma Story is not only about exposing BIOT events. It’s also about coma recovery and lucid dreaming – told in an approachable and balanced style. In terms of BIOT the purpose is simple: help mainstream discover the story of the Chagos Islands and do something for the displaced people.

You seem to share a lot of things with Aldan. Did you base any character of Coma Story on real people?

Yes, to some extent. Many sub-events or small part of a character are in fact based on real inspirational folks I know. For example, I had put in an occurrence about at-risk school programs, which is something I have personally been involved with for a few years now, as I am an advocate for preventing high school dropout situation. Tarzan’s childhood accident recovery account is a real – and moving – event in the life of a good friend of mine, who is now a successful movie star. In many aspects, Coma Story was fun and interesting for me to write. It was sometimes difficult having a life outside the book.

You’re an IT techie; how did you come to writing? Can you remember the first story you’ve ever written?

I started writing because I had to. I took up technical writing at my first job – documenting software features and compiling training materials. Subsequently, I started writing a lot. Then came dissertations, technical papers, online journals, collaborative blogs, wiki biographies and one fine day – books.

Can you tell us more about your first book “Land of Opportunity Forever”?

Sure. It’s a non-fiction book where I discuss social issues in the U.S. and its links to superpower status sustainability. Land of Opportunity Forever not only fetched me couple of awards but established me a as a social and current affairs author.

What is a typical working day for Stephen Thompson?

When I write, I actually spend most of my time researching with Internet and end up actually writing for a couple of hours. In any case my working day is usually not that organized, so let’s not even go there.

Finally, an off-topic question: you’ve found 100$, how will you use that money?

I would buy a bunch of copies of Land of Opportunity Forever and give them for free to teenagers at my book events and speaking engagements.

What are you working on right now? What about your plans?

Well, there are a couple of inspirational people, whom I am familiar with, I’d love to write biographies of. But it seems to be an extremely daunting task for now. So am sticking to my previous life’s profession and it’s going to be business book series; starting with Customer Service. I am not under any contact though.

Would you like to add something, Stephen?

I would like to thank you for this opportunity. I certainly enjoyed the interview.


“My Favorite…”

Author & Book: So many! It’s really hard for me to pick one.
Movie & TV Show: IRT Deadliest Roads
Food: Thai and ice-creams
City: I am not a big fan of cities in general, but I would have to say my favorite is Amstelveen, Holland.
My Idol: My parents
Music: Abba, 90’s and I love all kinds of Indian music.
Hobby: Golf and car shows
Place to write: Home
Motto: Get your parents dream for you and follow their dream.

“Tea or Coffee?”

Tea or Coffee? Tea of-course, with cream and sugar.
Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Restaurant or at home.
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? None, though I can handle both.
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megalopolis? Crazy because we currently live in a kind of sleepy town. Both suit me.
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Drama? Whatever by daughter gets as I am not allowed to pick.
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Like to travel and learning new things.
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? Proud to be a Couch Potato, though I do like to golf.
Leader or Follower? I would follow only if I trust.
Shy or Easy-going? I’m very easy-going.
Serious or Funny? Combination of both, but maybe a bit more funny.

Thank you Stephen!
You can learn more about Dr. Stephen M. Thompson and his books at: www.ComaStory.com


“Coma Story” review by Veronika Asks

Have you ever wondered what the Diego Garcia depopulation is? What do you know about the lives of the Chagossians, forced out of their island?

In “Coma Story”, Aldan Foy gets the opportunity to meet the victims of the Diego Garcia depopulation and get a glimpse of the destinies of the Chagossians. With the help of Diego Garcia native Tarzan, Aldan conspires to get back the Chagos Islands – without rioting and violence! And, as surprising as it may sound, the pacific fighters win…until Aldan emerges from coma and realizes his incredible project and victory were a lucid dream.

Stephen Thompson’s “Coma Story” helps shed some light on the Diego Garcia depopulation and introduces the reader to a wide range of colorful and sympathetic characters (my personal favorite is Tarzan). The novel gives us the opportunity to learn more about this historical event and travel to Mauritius and Diego Garcia with Aldan and Tarzan. An interesting read for those who want to know more about lucid dreaming – and fight every day, whatever it takes.

Comments
  1. Chris Richards says:

    I found the interview both enjoyable and educational. I would purchase the books out of curiosity first and admiration second.

  2. Betty Dravis says:

    Thanks, Stephen, for the detailed report of your writing life, of your COMA STORY and your writing habits, in general. Very interesting and informative. I can relate to switching from nonfiction to fiction. I was a journalist and newspaper publisher for 25 years and I really got tired of facts, facts, facts…so when I retired I switched to fiction. I enjoy letting my mind roam free. But as fate would have it, I started doing celeb. interviews with my co-author and are now on our second book in the DREAM REACHERS series about high achievers and how they reached their goals; inspiring books. I can’t wait to get back to another fiction, though.🙂

    Best of luck with all your writings and thanks to Veronika for bringing your story alive.

    Hugs – Betty Dravis❤

  3. K Satyamurti Sarma says:

    When I read the novel ‘Coma Story’, I was transported to another world, another age and another culture. My heart ached for those brave people, their travels and their desire for freedom. As a person born in British India which became free when I was 14 years of age, I am able to sympathize and empathize with them.

    An absorbing short novel, well written by a technocrat! Well Done!

    Satya

  4. Great to see you doing so well, Stephen. I note that you are interested in writing stories about people who are inspirational. Well, someday, I hope you could write about my wife and I. Maybe title it- “Model Caregiver Raymond & schizophrenia client, Doris Fernando- Unplugged”

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