In the Important Notes section at the back of Beyond the Cabin, I point out that while this book is inspired by true events that happened to me, the novel is still a work of fiction.
I stopped short of listing the events in Beyond the Cabin that are true and not true.
As a response to a request, I am going to make a few things really clear in this post. Warning: some spoilers ahead.
- I grew up with two older brothers, one of whom left when I was seven. His passing is as depicted in the book, but it happened about seven years after he left in real life.
- None of the kid characters are true-to-life portrayals of the kids I grew up with. The characters in the book have traits of some of the people I grew up with and traits needed for the story.
- I never ran away seriously. I threatened to once and made it about 1000 yards before chickening out.
- The setting- Western Pennsylvania- is real and the house is similar to the house we lived in there.
- The cult is real, although I changed the name. The real cult started in the 60s and was called the Process. It morphed and evolved for many years after.
- Every punishment in the book is something that happened in real life. Including the beating. Yes, I know what this means, legally. No, I don’t care to pursue anything recriminatory ever. Anybody who does try to do so, or tries to besmirch the group as it is today, does so against my wishes and with my deep disapproval. The water has long flowed under the bridge.
- A cabin was built at one point when many of the cult orphan kids lived in Western New York. It was a project that many of us worked on. It ended unceremoniously when my oldest brother injured himself badly with a chainsaw.
- The kids I grew up with are essentially my siblings. I never got truly close to any of them as a youth, due to my own failings. I did spend time with many off and on and they were my playmates, friends, and sometimes enemies, but I never felt comfortable enough with any of them to show anything resembling vulnerability. This was my failure and I spent many years regretting the way I treated them. Today I cherish them and their friendship.
- If it’s a weird ritual, a strange teaching practice, a religious song, or anything that adds texture to the depiction of the cult itself and life in it- it’s true. The songs are the actual words to actual songs. I still remember several more.
- The spiritual, mental, and emotional journey that Josh goes on parallels mine, only mine took over twenty years to come to fruition.
In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I’m going to say about that. If you have questions, I welcome them and I will happily answer them. There is also a lot on this site about my life in the cult. Try clicking over on the right on “The Thanks Series” under Categories.