By Cody Willoughby
Great art can come from anywhere, and it often is spawned right here in Miami County.
This year saw the release of an acclaimed new novel, “Reincarnation Blues,” from Troy native Michael Poore. Since its release, the book has found positive responses with readers and critics alike.
Poore, a Troy High School graduate, went on to major in journalism and education at Ohio University. He now resides in Indiana with his family, where he teaches social studies and world history. His career as a teacher has allowed him to develop a profitable career as an author, with his first novel seeing its release in 2012.
“My first book was a fantasy,” Poore said. “It was sort of a comic biography of the devil. More than anything, it was meant to be funny and thought-provoking. The second book, ‘Reincarnation Blues,’ has some chapters in it that are straight-up science-fiction. I’ve always liked to write about things that were supernatural and I tend to gravitate toward gigantic characters. I really liked superheroes when I was a kid. I’m interested in characters who have something unusual about them that makes them stand out. If a character has that, the story writes itself, in a way.”
According to Poore, the idea for his second novel came during a family vacation.
“We were driving through the desert, and I could afford to let my mind wander. I’ve had a number of people in my family who’ve died younger than they should’ve, and it just occurred to me that it would be interesting to have characters who knew that was coming, and in thinking about that, I thought it would be interesting to feature death as a character within the story. It morphed into a story of somebody dying and meeting Death from there. Then I began to ask myself what occurs on the other side. From there, it became a story about reincarnation.”
The book chronicles the story of Milo, a character who is reincarnated thousands of times, all the while maintaining a constant relationship with Death, who manifests into a physical form as a character called Susie.
The subject matter of “Reincarnation Blues” has brought on many questions about Poore’s beliefs in the afterlife, though Poore himself downplays those elements in real life more than his work would suggest.
“I’ve had people ask me if I actually believe in reincarnation, and I have no answer on that whatsoever,” Poore said. “I’m fascinated by the fact that people are religious, and what people get out of it that allows them to access their spirituality. Even if you don’t believe in the devil as a religious figure, it represents something in people. People’s religious choices say a lot about them, and there’s a lot to learn in those journeys. Having said that, I don’t know that it’s important to have a set idea about what happens after we die or what God is. I enjoy the exploration. I’d be deeply disappointed if I woke up one morning and thought I had it figured out.”
Despite embracing ambiguity on the matter, making the topic of death such an integral part of his writing has still created great contemplation for Poore.
“I did a lot of research on Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism,” Poore said. “In the course of that process, writing this book changed me. It made me reflect on what’s important, and I’ve tried to allow the experience to make me a gentler person. The character in the book is meant to evolve, and I realized I couldn’t take on this story without also evolving as a person, and try to find in my life where I was going.”
Success has come in more ways than just publication for Poore’s book, which has now seen rankings on Top 10 lists in science-fiction for Library Reads and Barnes and Noble.
“I’ve been very happy with how the book has been recieved,” Poore said. “It’s been warmly embraced by libraries, which means a lot to me. I used to work in a library, so that’s a big honor. Some people have said to me that the book made them feel better about their place within the human race. My agent said it made her feel better about being human, and I liked that a lot. If I can bring something positive to people’s lives and make the world a more positive place, I’d be very proud of that.”
Reincarnation Blues is available now from Del Rey Books.
For more information on Michael Poore, follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.