Call Maya Svevak’s Svevi Avatar: Persecution of Constantina the fitting literary potion for the post-Pandemic Age of Trumpian alternate realities. In a neo-Nazi settlement called Constantina, a people believing in their racial and religious superiority see their young, charismatic leader, Andrew, unexpectedly die only to be resurrected — by an advanced female consciousness who lived 12,000 years ago — and lead a revolt against the Guardians, an ancient power-hungry empire that has long dominated the world.
As he implements a political strategy that exploits Indigenous refugees, Andrew falls in love with a mysterious Indigenous woman whose powers could easily annihilate Constantina, making him question a lifetime of indoctrination.
Masterfully written, Svevi Avatar is a genre-bending epic that defies stereotypes and spurs us to shed our own prejudices and limitations. This first book in the novel pentalogy pulls us into numinous spaces and transcendental conversations that alter the ways in which we perceive time, space, and the interconnectivities between all that exists.
Svevi Avatar portrays an intriguing alternative timeline that forces us to evaluate the world around us, our values, and our treatment of historically silenced groups such as women, the Indigenous, people of colour, and refugees. It combines a captivating and layered plot interwoven with scandal, politics, myth, and love. Readers will immediately be drawn to Andrew, a man recovering from a mysterious stroke, and how he begins to navigate his faulty memory and the events that connect him to the beautiful Maya. As a relationship forms between Andrew and Maya, it unravels racial prejudices that have historically pitted groups against each other and how a possible union could bring peace and beauty to this world.
The book is much more than a piece of fiction or an alternative timeline, but a testament to some of the most pressing questions plaguing the world today.
A mental collaboration between ancient and modern, science and religion, Maya Svevak’s Svevi Avatar: Persecution of Constantina introduces its readers to an alternative reframing of our earth’s trajectory, one in which a man experiences doubt about the path his nation has taken and strives to amend the errors of time.
Mystic runes inscribed on the page connect protagonist Andrew Onio to a mystical force, alongside several others in different lands, observing a world about to fall apart.
Maya Svevak’s depth of imagination is genuinely impressive. Through her power of thought she has created a wonderfully fulfilling world, while her penetrating intellect affords profound insights into the cycles and dynamics of history. Svevi Avatar is a fast-paced adventure that artfully synchronises disparate voices across a wide range of terrains and national conditions.
A wonderful experiment in carving a space in which political thriller and mythological fiction can harmonise, the first book in the Svevi Avatar pentalogy is truly a joy to read.
A fascinating epic about a world that may die if no one intervenes.
After being dead for a third of an hour, Andrew awakes. Unbeknownst to him, an advanced consciousness from across time and space has taken an interest in his survival. As Andrew navigates his burgeoning understanding of the truth about the native inhabitants surrounding his small settler nation of Constantina and the patriarchal political system he has supported since childhood, he meets three powerful women from lands unknown to him. As a global war looms, how will powers be used?
Svevi Avatar is a parallel universe where racism, authoritarianism, and environmental devastation are intertwined with the wisdom of enlightenment and the ability to foresee the consequences of our foolish acts. Maya Svevak has created a complex world with an amazing array of engaging characters. Her prose is powerful and full of insights about the deep nature of reality and our place in it. This is the kind of book I love to read, with adventure, exotic places, and ancient wisdom.
Svevi Avatar: Persecution of Constantina takes the reader to a fascinating world where the majority of humans live in harmony with nature, except the citizens of Constantina. In Constantina, nature is to be dominated. But trouble is brewing as powerful outside forces aim to hold Constantina to account and internal factions maneuver to hide the truth. Maya Svevak holds a magnifying glass up to our own world and its myriad of social, political and environmental injustices through captivating fantasy storytelling.
Maya Svevak: Hello Lee, I’m so excited to have this conversation with you today, the day the Svevi Avatar novel pentalogy launches worldwide!
In One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jose Arcadio Buendia invented the world of Macondo according to his perceptions. Much like him, I created the world of Svevi Avatar according to what I envision the world might have been like had three key historical events not taken place. First, urbanized settlements usurping communities tied intimately to their ancestral ecosystems. Second, patriarchal social structures controlling women. And third, capitalism and greed-based imperialism subjugating the world’s Indigenous peoples and pillaging their resources.
So in the world of Svevi Avatar, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania were never invaded by Europeans, or Europans, as they are referred to in the novel pentalogy. Indigenous peoples have lived harmoniously for 12,000 years. And women lead most of the world’s nations, with a few having such immense powers that they could annihilate an entire city if they so desired. You might ask where conflict is to be found then in this idyllic world. Well, it’s found in a small settler colony of Europans on the east coast of the continent of Kanata (what we in our reality call North America). A settler colony called Constantina, which has begun implementing a devious plan to conquer the world’s peoples and extract what it can from the environment in its pursuit of wealth and power.
I’ve written the novels, novellas, and graphic novels of Svevi Avatar to be eminently engaging as a mystery, thriller, adventure, and romance, all rolled into one. But I am most excited about the non-mainstream perspectives through which the stories are told.
Maya Svevak: I’ve always been driven by an adamant curiosity about why human society and natural phenomena are the way they are. More specifically, I’m spurred by an inexorable need to understand why there’s suffering. Suffering in all aspects: emotional, physical, social, economic, and ecological.
In our global reality, many of the EcoSocial challenges we humans and the earth face are strongly correlated with who’s in power, how that power is used, what the cultural perspectives of the powerful are, and how the powerful treat the environment and other humans. So a true grasp of what afflicts us, and why, can’t be achieved without understanding all of these facets simultaneously, both in the present and in the past.
This is why my new book, Svevi Avatar: Persecution of Constantina, the first book in the Svevi Avatar novel pentalogy, explores several interconnected topics. If I had to choose, I would say that the four main topics are environment, identity, gender, and power. While it’s not uncommon for fiction or non-fiction books to explore one, or even two, of these topics, it is very rare that all four are explored simultaneously ⎯ even though they are intimately interlinked.
Maya Svevak: Thanks for that question, Lee. In addition to the four topics I mentioned being explored in the same book being a rarity, what is also rare is the exploration of these four topics from outside mainstream perspectives. Mainstream meaning Eurocentric, male, urban, Judeo-Christian, and non-Indigenous. So I decided to write from within an Indigenous-female conceptual framework. But also present mainstream points of view, in order to ease readers used to thinking in mainstream ways into contemplating and acting in non-mainstream ways.
Maya Svevak: You mean the four interconnected topics of environment, identity, gender, and power from non-mainstream points of view? Simply because we in materially wealthy parts of the world need to adopt different mindsets and behaviors in order to decrease human and ecological suffering. Now, before it’s too late and we’ve destroyed everyone and everything.
Maya Svevak: It’s interesting that you ask this question. I don’t believe that the books of Svevi Avatar can be classified under any one genre. But much to my surprise, this seems to at best confuse, and at worst, annoy people. So the common perceptions and misconceptions I contend with are that Svevi Avatar is this and therefore not that, or that Svevi Avatar is that and therefore not this, leading people wedded to certain types of genres not to approach the books with an open mind.
Maya Svevak: Let me be less esoteric.
One of the literary tools I’ve resorted to in order to more clearly dissect the cause and effect matrix underlying human and ecological suffering is to create an alternate reality, in which various key events didn’t occur, as I mentioned before. Chief among these events that didn’t occur in the world of Svevi Avatar is the rise of patriarchal, proselytizing, capitalistic, imperialistic, genocidal, violent, exploitative, and colonizing forces, and their subjugation of the earth’s peoples and resources. I go a step further even. In the world of Svevi Avatar, 12,000 years ago, a powerful, female-led alliance of the world’s Indigenous peoples was established, which prevented the spread of the patriarchal colonizing forces, and thus the pernicious repercussions of imperialism. Until the beginning of book 1 of the novel pentalogy, that is, when such forces try to violently assert themselves.
Maya Svevak: Yes, and you and I have discussed this at length. When I was conceiving of the world of Svevi Avatar, I wasn’t necessarily thinking about what genre I wish to write in. My focus was on creating the world, the characters, and the conflicts, and exploring topics that are important to me. But it seems as though the phrase ‘alternate reality’ leads people to relegate Svevi Avatar to the fantasy genre. I’m an ardent fan of this genre. But I feel that such a classification allows a reader to segregate the characters and events of a book from our lived reality. And in the case of Svevi Avatar this kind of partitioning would be unfortunate. Because the books deal with multiple, very relevant issues, such as sexual assault, environmental destruction, misogyny, genetic engineering, racism, Indigenous rights, colonization, cultural and knowledge misappropriation, climate change, and other realities we contend with every day. I believe that a classification as fantasy tends to lead readers and writers of non-fiction to dismiss the possibility that Svevi Avatar could discuss important, contemporary issues based on science, law, and economics.
From what I understand about the subject, it seems that Svevi Avatar falls into multiple genres. While written as a fast-paced mystery-thriller-adventure with a main storyline and multiple sub-plots to keep the reader immersed and entertained, the books also take the time to delve into the personal growth and evolution of each of the over 15 characters. So Svevi Avatar also falls into the literary fiction genre. Similarly, other aspects of Svevi Avatar enable it to be classified into at least the genres of magical realism, science fiction, spiritual fiction, and speculative fiction.
Maya Svevak: I believe so. And I wish that anyone encountering Svevi Avatar for the first time would put aside any preconceived notions they might have about how the books should be classified. I wish that instead, they’d allow themselves to absorb the prose, places, people, and plots. They just might find themselves thinking about and acting within the world in new ways.
Maya Svevak: Since the books of Svevi Avatar cross genres, there are vastly different types of books that inspired me and that are literary comparisons to parts of Svevi Avatar. As I talk about each book, I’ll briefly describe why it’s similar to an aspect of the Svevi Avatar pentalogy.
Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel explores potential geographical-ecological, rather than racial, origins of different types of human motivation, including imperialism, as does Svevi Avatar. Vandana Shiva’s Stolen Harvest and Ramachandra Guha’s Ecology and Equity discuss the global economic and legal system that has enabled the theft, exploitation, misappropriation, and genetic destruction of biodiversity in food crops in Asia and Africa by Americans and Europeans. Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian describes the horrors that First Nations (Indigenous Canadians) peoples were subjected to by the European colonizers of Canada.
Maya Svevak: Yes, definitely! George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World describe dystopian realities in which police states and autocratic forms of government have stifling effects on human society, as does Svevi Avatar. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude paints a world created from one man’s perceptions, a world where ordinary phenomena seem magical. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea absorb readers into a man’s journey of contemplation and introspection. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina features discussions on political ideologies and revolution. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones are fantasy worlds with fascinating characters that embark on life-altering adventures. DC Comics’ Wonder Woman and Marvel Comics’ Black Panther feature strong women and people of color who have superpowers and save humanity. And finally Shashi Tharoor’s A Great Indian Novel and Vyasa’s Mahabharata are epics that chronicle the foibles and victories of humans across time.
Maya Svevak: Yes, because Svevi Avatar touches on many different non-fiction topics and explores the world through many different fictional constructs. The books I mentioned are just a few examples of literary works that explore aspects of what I try to delve into in the Svevi Avatar books.
Maya Svevak: I feel that the world of Svevi Avatar has been forming in my subconscious for at least a decade now. Ever since I began working with Indigenous and marginalized communities around the world. The more time I spent living among them, the more I realized how woefully inadequate and ineffective my urban, university-educated mindset was. Being a product of a postcolonial society, the British having looted and disparaged my homeland India for centuries, I’d always suspected that the Eurocentric-Abrahamic-urban-capitalist-patriarchal system of laws, economics, and social mores imposed on the world was not up to the task of solving our ensuing, and sadly still current, crises of poverty, environmental degradation, disease, and identity loss.
The stories, courage, intelligence, and compassionate wisdom of the amazing women and men from these Indigenous and marginalized communities inspired me to create the characters of Svevi Avatar. And for those special characters I created a world in which they had never been subjugated, their lands and resources never stolen from them.
Maya Svevak: The mechanisms and legacy of colonialism are very complex. And so I had to read books and scholarly articles on economics, trade frameworks, racism, identity, narcissism, gender violence, environment, capitalism, world history, religion, metaphysics, quantum physics, and many other subjects. I must say that what surprised me most was how nearly impossible it was to find perspectives on all of these topics that were not Eurocentric-Abrahamic-urban-capitalist-patriarchal. So I was compelled to develop an ability to distill facts from these various sources without allowing myself to be influenced by the cultural framework within which they were written.
Maya Svevak: I’m currently working on a historical fiction novel that features the profound love and friendship between a male and a female character, who meet across six different time periods, one of them being the present. Amidst a tumultuous political revolution spanning the five time periods of the past, they meet and lose each other each time. Until the present, where their lives mirror the travails of the past.
Maya Svevak: Yes, I collaborate with an amazing team of artists and musicians, who have helped me create original artwork and music for the world of Svevi Avatar. We have two different websites, www.sveviavatar.com, the website for the novel universe, and www.mayasvevak.com, the author website, and two different sets of social media, including youtube, associated with each of the websites. We’ve put a tremendous amount of love and dedication into creating a multi-media experience for fans of Svevi Avatar. In fact, we’ve already published a novella and an accompanying graphic novel. Until ⎯ fingers crossed ⎯ the movies are out, there’s a huge world of stories, characters, and fascinating places to immerse oneself in.
And finally, one of the main reasons I created this universe of Svevi Avatar was so that through global engagement of its fans, together we can make a real world impact on the environment and people. A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Svevi Avatar literature, and of future merchandise, will go to support initiatives for social and environmental justice worldwide.
Maya Svevak: Thank you, Lee, for asking me such insightful and thought-provoking questions. And thank you for being my editor. I learned a tremendous amount as I revised the novel. I’m so excited about the global launch of the Svevi Avatar novel pentalogy today, and I wish everyone happy, happy reading!