13 March 2015

Author Q&A Session #37: With David Rain

Good afternoon and Good morning Folks,
Today in an all new author Q&A session, we have the author whose books takes us back to places and back in time with his extraordinary and heart-touching stories, yes, I'm talking about David Rain, author of "The Heat of The Sun" and "Volcano Street". Read along the interview to know more about his life, his books, his inspiration and life beyond books.

Read the review of The Heat of The Sun
Read the review of Volcano Street

Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, David. Congratulations on your new book, Volcano Street. Can you please share with us the story behind your book, Volcano Street?

David: Volcano Street is a comedy-drama set in Australia in the early seventies. Two young sisters, Skip and Marlo Wells, are sent to a small town, Crater Lakes, to live with their aunt and uncle after their mother cracks up and is put in an asylum. Life isn’t easy in Crater Lakes, especially not with their aunt on the scene.

Skip is twelve going on thirteen, and goes to the local high school. That’s tough, to say the least, especially with one particularly mean gang of boys tormenting her. Marlo, meanwhile, is in her last year at school and expects to be soon doing final exams so she can go to university. Her aunt has other ideas, making her work in the family hardware store instead. But bad times in Crater Lakes are only the beginning of the story. On one hand, the girls make some interesting friends. On the other, they discover a mystery that may just change everything for them and for the town.

Me: What was your source of inspiration for your book, Volcano Street?Why did you feature Crater Lakes, a fictional town in Australia? Does the place hold any significance to you?

David: Well, Volcano Street is hardly an autobiography, but I really did grow up in a small town in Australia not that different from Crater Lakes. I’d written a previous book, The Heat of the Sun, which required a whole lot of research and was set in a time period years before I was born. With Volcano Street, I wanted to do something more intimate, more related to the life I’d really lived. But, as I soon discovered, it was just as hard to do as The Heat of the Sun, in some ways even harder.

Me: Volcano Street is set across Southern Australia. How did you research for your novel? Did you travel extensively or was it just from your memory when you used to live in Australia?

David: There wasn’t a lot of research, as such, but there was a lot of note-taking and a lot of imagination mixed in with all the facts. After all, I know Australia, or think I do. But getting the characters right was hard. The main character was originally a boy, based on myself when I was young, and that just didn’t work. Once I changed the character to a girl I knew I was on to something. I don’t mean that Skip Wells is a female version of myself, in fact she’s very different from me at that age, not least in the courage she shows and the adventures she’s prepared to go on. I love Skip, but she’s an imaginary character. Quite a few other things in the book are imaginary too. But not all of them. Crater Lakes has its roots in truth.

Me: What other passions do you have, apart from writing novels?

David: Very few! I’d have liked to have been a musician but I don’t have the talent for it. When I was younger I loved visual art and I’ve often wished I could have been a painter or an illustrator. But writing was the way it went. That said, I do like music of several kinds, I do like visual art, and I do like drama and movies a lot. I should add that apart from writing novels I do write poems and have even written a play, quite a few years ago now, but whether I’ll have success with these things is another matter. Writing novels and getting them published is probably quite enough!

Me: How will you describe your journey so far as an author? Was it always your one true dream to be an author?

David: I remember exactly the moment when I decided to be an author. I was seven years old, nearly eight. In the afternoon recess time at primary school, somebody told me about a kid in another class who had written a story, not because the teacher expected it but just because he wanted to. Later, he read it out to the class and, as a result, become something of a star. Well, as it happened my mother had bought a new blank book that day for me to draw in (I used to draw a lot). When I got home, there was the blank book on a table in the living room. I started work straight away. I wish I still had that book now! I made up a science fiction story called Moon Escape which filled the whole of that 64-page book.

Well, that was a fast start. But maybe a false start, too. As I discovered in years to come, writing wasn’t always so easy. In my teens I wasted a hell of a lot of time. In university, writing became really hard for me. I wish I’d just written, written, written, whatever else I’d had to do, rather than wasting my time on academic study. But that’s the way it went. I ended up with a PhD in English, which, to tell the truth, I wouldn’t recommend. In the end, becoming an author took me a long, long time. But if you can write at all you’ve got to be grateful for what you can do. And I am. Very.

Me: Your debut book, The Heat of the Sun is set across Nagasaki, New Mexico and New York. How did you research for it, and what was your inspiration behind The Heat of the Sun?

David: The Heat of the Sun is based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. At the end of the opera, after Madame Butterfly kills herself in Nagasaki, her former American lover Lieutenant Pinkerton and his new wife are left to look after the child that resulted from Pinkerton’s affair with the Japanese girl. The child is taken back to America. Now it so happens that he’s blond and looks American. My book tells the story of his life.

I’ll add one more thing. Madame Butterfly, the opera, is supposedly set in the present, which would have meant 1904, the year the opera debuted. Anyone who was young then could still have been alive during World War Two. The novel came to me when I realized that the two main things most Westerners know about Nagasaki – that Madame Butterfly lived and died there, and that Americans dropped an atomic bomb on it in 1945 – could be linked up to form one story. Research? A whole lot of reading. But then I had to put it all away and use my imagination.

Me: Tell us one trait of your main protagonist, Skip, from your book, Volcano Street, that intrigues you the most?

David: Skip is an innocent, but she’s smart as well. I love the way she’s always got plans and schemes, always tries to do things even when It’s tough. But I suppose what interests me most about Skip is that she’s a writer, or is going to be one. We may not believe that at the beginning of the book. By the end, I hope, our view will have changed.

Me: Describe your normal writing day. And how do you get away from the stress of a long day's work?

David: The routine I’ve used for many years is to get up early, go straight to the desk, and get started. Mornings are always good, and sometimes, if nothing else interrupts me, they can turn into whole days. I’m not sure I find writing stressful as such. Maybe when I’m trying to come up with new ideas and nothing seems to work. Maybe if I’m sick of something, though I hope that won’t be often. That usually means you should be writing something else. There’s one trick with breaks, though, and I think it’s that during them you should forget the book if you can. Don’t think about it at all. In other words, let it go into your unconscious. If you’re lucky, you might be amazed what comes to you next time you work on it.

Me: What's next up your writing sleeve? Please tell us briefly about it.

David: I’d love to, but I can’t! Experience has taught me that it’s best not to talk about writing until it’s being published, until it’s something definite. There’s so much that can go wrong, so many turns you end up not taking. And I think you write better if you keep it under your hat. All you’ve got is you and the page and you have to make it as good as you can. Keep quiet, really quiet, until it’s done. That’s the best way.

Me: Thank you so much David for sparing time to have this interview with me on my blog. I wish you luck for all your future endeavors.

David's Bio:

David Rain is an Australian writer who lives in London. He is the author of the novels Volcano Street and The Heat of the Sun. He has written poetry, articles, and reviews. He has taught literature and writing at Queen’s University of Belfast, University of Brighton, and Middlesex University, London.

Connect With David On:  Facebook | Twitter | Author Website | Goodreads    



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