Describe your main characters in a single word?
Denny Banister – driven.
Andy de Vries – lost.
Sonya Llewellyn – determined.
Bruce de Vries – isolated.
Now, I know that was hard so now you can expand. Tell us a little more about your
Denny Banister is someone who has been brought up to value hard work and to appreciate the rewards that come from putting as much effort into his endeavours as possible. He is driven to achieve and driven to appreciate those around him. When his world comes crashing down at the beginning of the story, Denny can't reconcile that he has lost everything and so he sets out to regain his life from a very unique place. He is just as driven as he was before.
Andy de Vries is a lost individual when first we meet him. There is a flicker of what could be burning inside him but Andy's penchant for self destruction consumes him and his potential. Thus he has little real identity at the beginning of the story. As the story progresses, Andy's journey really becomes a quest for identity and he is given the opportunity to choose a different path. That opportunity comes from a most unlikely place.
Sonya Llewellyn, Denny's bereaved lover, is determined to get on with her life in the aftermath of his death. She is determined not to grieve, nor to allow herself to falter in her determination to rebuild her grandfather's failed legal practice in the small sea side town of Hambledown. It is this determination that is both a strength and a failing, though Sonya doesn't recognize it as such. Her single mindedness in insulating herself from the world by focusing on the things she can control protects from her yielding to her emotions – her grief. But as the story develops, we see that this becomes unsustainable.
Bruce de Vries, Andy's estranged father, is at first glance a cold and unaccessible person and this goes some way to explaining why Andy himself, is the lost figure we meet in the beginning of the story. However, Bruce's journey within the story is, a lonely and isolated one. Events, however, tease out a rather poignant and sad backstory that serves as a catalyst for the building of bridges within the central story. It's definitely one of the more satisfying aspects of the story.
How did this story develop for you? What was the creative process?
The story developed from that basic idea that I talked about earlier – of reincarnation. I then wanted a common “thing” that anchored the characters of Andy and Denny together and I very quickly determined that music would be the perfect device. I have long loved classical guitar and so I brought that into the mix. From there I built upon a basic story structure that was defined by plot objectives that I wanted to achieve. I worked with ideas along the way and I guess you could say that there was a lot of fluidity to the story until certain ideas became clearer. I let the characters drive the story for the most part because, at it's heart, The Hambledown Dream is a very human story.
Your book deals with some serious themes, what drew you to write about them?
In order to bring some sense of realness to the idea of reincarnation, I actually researched studies of transplant patients who, upon receiving their donor organs, began to take on character traits from the donors themselves. For example, I read about a young woman in America, who received a heart transplant. She was a very health conscious person – for obvious reasons. Upon waking from surgery and recovering somewhat, she began to develop strong cravings for a tall glass of beer and a New York styled hot dog. Something she would never previously have wanted. It turns out that her donor heart came from a long distance truck driver who loved beer and hot dogs. I was also intrigued by Hindu references to reincarnation. That our spiritual energy is a tactile construct that survives beyond our mortality and has the potential to be transferred. There are certain individuals who act as lightning rods for this energy and can thus attract it and contain it.
So tell us a little bit about you.
Well, I live in Adelaide with my wife Emily and our two children Xavier and Lucy – oh – and my cattle dog Simon (who is a character in the story). I am a Paediatric ICU working with mainly infants and babies but I also nurse in adult ICU settings from time to time. I'm a music nut in the kind of Jack Black/High Fidelity sense of the term and I am also a voracious reader. I'll actually read anything if it is within reach. During the summer months, I enjoy being out on the water sailing my sailing boat and during the winter I like to cook and pair wine with my creations. And, of course, I am a writer, which has been my passion since I was old enough to write.
Who is your favorite author at the moment?
I have just finished reading an incredible detective thriller/murder mystery called “Children of the Street” by a Ghanaian born author, now living in the States. His name is Kwei Quartey and he is a practicing physician in LA when he isn't writing. I have had the pleasure of corresponding with him recently and I consider he and I to be kind of similar in that we're both health professionals with a passion for writing, although we're writing in quite different genres.
What was your favorite scene to write?
There is a scene that heralds the emergence of something special occuring within Andy about half way into the book. The Pub where he has a tenuous hold on a bar job is experiencing a mini crisis when it's first foray into live music is put in jeopardy and it falls to Andy to try and rescue the situation. No one seriously believes he can do it but he unexpectedly reveals his talent as a classical guitarist of sublime talent.
The music I portrayed in that scene was very personal to me, but also very evocative. I used music as a way of evoking imagery and emotion in the novel and that first scene worked really well I think. Actually, I don't think that scene changed from the very first time I wrote it.