Self-published novels don’t have to be self-indulgent. Bryan Radzin’s one and only self-published novel describes the cross continental adventures of a young, idealistic California journalist who unearths a global conspiracy with the help of his devoted California girlfriend and a gang of good natured guys. Search for Truth: The Seeker Begins borrows from several genres: romantic comedy, dark thriller, plus a bit of science fiction and a little fantasy thrown in for good measure.
Radzin, 34, grew up in southern California and attended Humboldt State University. As a kid he read Roald Dahl’s popular novels; two of his favorites were James and The Giant Peach and Matilda. But at the top of his list of all-time favorite children’s books was Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth because, he explained, it had “so many deep philosophical messages.” Search for Truth is a kind of Phantom Tollbooth for adults with its own version of magical events and mysteries.
In high school, Radzin wrote about sports; after he graduated he authored a column about parenting for The Press Enterprise in Riverside County.
“I got so tired of seeing all these parenting shows and reading books by people that didn't even have kids,” he said. “My column was about parenting from a young person’s perspective. I really enjoyed it; it was fresh so to speak.”
These days he works at a Best Western in Arcata, California. “It doesn't pay very much, but I'm very happy at it because half the job is talking to people,” he explained.
The hero in Search for Truth is based largely on the author himself. Christina is inspired, he says, “by the kind of woman I have always wanted.” His name is Jason; hers is Christina. They’re quirky, loveable pot-smoking Humboldt County hippies who like to get stoned, who care about the planet Earth and about democracy, equality and truth.
If you live in Arcata or Garberville, Petrolia or Alderpoint you probably know people like them. Early in the novel, they go their separate ways. Near the end they come back together again. As a team of two they’re on a quest to find the masterminds behind “The Six Entities,” an evil, invisible organization that “controls the entire world and everything in it.” You root for Jason because he’s the little guy at war with a monstrous giant; you root for Christina because she’s the goddess of goodness itself. Together they’re invincible.
Reading Search for Truth feels like watching an action packed movie with good guys who have only their wits to defend themselves and bad guys who use automatic weapons and anything and everything insidious at their disposal.
There are humorous moments, mostly in restaurants with cute waitresses. Jason loves Cuban sandwiches and biscuits and gravy, too. He’s a flawed character who knows his flaws and who maintains a healthy dose of optimism and humor. Christina is absolutely brilliant and absolutely loyal: she’s the ideal girlfriend, pal and comrade-in-arms. The novel ends just as a new plot begins to unravel and as Jason and Christina wonder where their next steps will take them. A sequel seems to be in the works.