Behind the Curtain: The Real-Life Inspiration for "Trip," the trippy time travel romance novel by Cheril N. Clarke

Behind the Curtain: The Real-Life Inspiration for "Trip," the trippy time travel romance novel by Cheril N. Clarke

Not everything in fiction is fake. And today, I’m sharing one of the most life-altering experiences that inspired a crucial moment in my latest novel, “Trip.”

In August 2021, I was in a private and very personal ceremony that would forever change my perspective on life and ultimately fuel the creative process behind “Trip.” But I didn’t know it at the time. I wasn’t even focused on creative writing full-time back then; I was still running my executive ghostwriting business.

Anyway, I participated in a changa ceremony facilitated by a medicine man and two others.

For those who haven’t heard of it, changa is a blend of herbs infused with Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a powerful hallucinogenic compound naturally found in plants. It's known for its effects on consciousness and "trippy vibes." This was my first dive into plant medicine, and it was an experience that pulled me out of the everyday and thrust me into the depths of my own universe.

I'd hosted a group at my Atlanta home for the ceremony, and I had mostly forgotten the details of it until I came across a journal entry I composed that day.

I wrote:

“Today was beautiful...this is another step on my plant medicine journey. One that I’ve been wanting to take for some time. One I would have never known about had I not moved to Atlanta and met the people I did, but one I needed. It was exciting to be pulled out of this world and into myself. Into the universe. Into the life force. I got snatched out of time and space and my body. It started with red, black, and green shapes like the spade in cards. I left my body and was in a nebula of sorts. I saw lots of colors, lots of shapes and a trail of alphabet letters that were pink and green. I laughed. I cried. I came out of it but not fully, as my left leg was stuck in the other place a little longer. It was because I scratched my chin that I became aware of my body again, and that made me come back prematurely.

It was amazing! Full of duality. Death and life. Laughter and tears. Reflection and expansion. Bliss. Perfection. Arousal --- everything!”

It's been a few years now, but I probably wrote that just after "coming down" or later that evening. I still remember the full moon that night because I'd gone out for a walk. My senses were incredibly sharp---smelling all the plants and flowers from a distance, hearing the faintest of sounds.

Thinking back, that was a wild experience during a wild time. I'm not a smoker and had trouble inhaling the medicine. I was also paranoid about inhaling anything in a room full of people, considering we were collectively coming out of the pandemic. But I did it, and this extraordinary experience inspired a key scene in “Trip,” where the protagonist undergoes a psychedelic journey that opens a portal to time travel. The vivid imagery and intense emotions I felt during the changa ceremony became the foundation for this magical narrative twist. Of course, I didn't time travel in real life. But I pumped my memories and emotions into my creative work.

In “Trip,” I blended the mystical and allure of time travel with the everyday, creating a story that explores deep human emotions and the boundaries of reality, love, passion and time. The psychedelic element in the novel is a direct reflection of my exploration of consciousness. It’s a journey that brought new dimensions to my writing and helped me connect with my characters on a deeper level.

Writing this book allowed me to transform this incredible experience into a story that resonates with themes of adventure, self-discovery, and the power of love and courage. I hope that readers, especially women over 40, find a connection with the characters and their journeys, even if they don't like how Trish, the lead character, handled things.

Do you have any experience with plant medicine?

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