Archer Fagan is like any other successful woman in her twenties, with an unorthodox occupation: she’s a new-age cult leader. Most stories about cults distance themselves from their leaders, for good reason: the myth of the mystic is what makes them so enticing. It’s when you get up close that you see their humanity-- their ugliness, their worry, their greed. At the peak of her worldwide success (or infamy, in the eyes of some), she finds herself unsatisfied with everything she’s worked so hard to build: an all-female cult and wellness empire, beloved by regular folks and celebrities alike.
Famously, Archer has seldom given an interview to an outsider. Indy Kirkwood, a famous documentary filmmaker, cult expert, and journalist extraordinaire, becomes the exception to that rule after a series of coincidences land her in Archer’s orbit. When Indy and her crew set up camp at the commune for their latest documentary special, Archer sees it as an opportunity for a connection to the outside. Drawn to each other’s differences and delighting in their similarities, they form an unlikely friendship.
Together, while Archer gives up her title, and Indy faces her jaded past, they embark on a journey of self-discovery that takes them around the world and back. This novel (excerpt) is a creative study of the complications of leadership and spirituality in the modern world.
Dr. Susan Finch
Ginn, Calista, "Hand In Glove" (2021). Honors Theses. 44.