Introducing author Dean Mayes, here on his blog tour with Saskia Book Tours. Take it away, Dean! (And don't miss the Rafflecoptor giveaway entry form down at the bottom!)
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi Kyra. I live in Adelaide, Australia with my wife and two children. I juggle parenthood with my dual career of writer and Intensive Care Nurse where I specialize in Paediatrics. I enjoy cycling - which I have neglected somewhat in recent months and sailing - I have a small yacht which gets a big work out in the summer months.
2. When did you start writing, and why?
My love of creative writing dates back to about aged 7 or 8. I had quite an active imagination that my then teacher, Mrs. Furnell, sought to nurture. It was probably the most significant moment I'd experienced as a student. I loved to create grand adventures, some of which weren't wholly original (cough *Star Wars* cough) but I relished in the creativity I had discovered.
My life kind of got in the way and, throughout my teens and 20's, I my attentions were diverted by academia, establishing a career in nursing, marriage and family. But I never gave up on the idea of writing. In mid 2007, a personal hero of mine, a journalist named Matt Price, revealed that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. 2 months later, he was dead and his passing had a really significant impact on me. I decided then that I wanted to write seriously. I had a story treatment that had languished in my desk drawer for several years. So I took it out and began working on it with no goal in mind other than to finish it.
3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I tend to write fiction that isn't genre specific – which I find to be quite freeing because I like to break as many rules as possible when it comes to writing. There is however, a common characteristic of my writing that binds my stories together. They tend to be character driven narratives and the plot is often dependent on the discoveries I make about my characters while writing them. I enjoy delving into quite complex and believable characters and examining their relationships with one another. This, I have found, is an effective tool to drive the stories I createforward.
4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My second full length novel "Gifts of the Peramangk" was released in October, 2012. It is described as a sprawling family saga set across two time periods in the harsh Australian outback and the struggle streets of its suburban fringe. It centers around an 8 year Aboriginal girl who is an undiscovered violin prodigy.
It is a loosely connected follow up to my 2010 debut for Central Avenue Publishing "The Hambledown Dream" which is a paranormal romance whose central protagonist is a young man who embarks on an incredible journey from the other side of his mortal world. There are elements of reincarnation which I explore through the novel as well as the power of music - namely classical guitar - as a redemptive force in the lives of the characters who populate that novel.
In April this year, my first novella "The Regenesis Cluster" released and here again, I explore the possibilities offered by renicarnation through elements of fantasy and science fiction. The interesting thing about this piece is that I offer no resolution to the story. Rather, it encourages the reader to ponder the “next step” as such and I've had some wonderful discussions with readers about what that might be.
I am now working on my third full length novel which carries the working title of "The Recipient".
5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The worlds of my novel are firmly grounded in real world settings but in all of them, there are hints of the fantastical which is a writing quirk I've embraced. “The Hambledown Dream” begins in Australia, before transitioning to the streets of Chicago in the U.S. Before returning to the leafy surrounds of Melbourne in Southern Australia which is my home town. I enjoyed immersing myself in familiar places where I'd spent a lot of time growing up and portraying them in a fictional sense. Likewise, the cast I brought to the story were based in part on people I know or have known. I derived a lot of satisfaction from casting and molding those characters and giving them the classic hero and villan archetypes – though I haven't revealed who those people are.
“Gifts of the Peramangk” required a great deal more care and attention in terms of world creation because here, I was dealing with controversial historical events in order to structure my story. This time, the setting was the leafy city of Adelaide, where I live and work now. Additionally, I explored the struggle streets of a region of Adelaide where there is a lot of poverty and disadvantage and this made for some interesting and perhaps “tense” field work during the research I conducted for the novel. Finally, there is the vast expanse of the South Australian Outback which is that classic vast Australian setting that would be familiar to most readers through such vehicles as Baz Lurhmann's “Australia” and Paul Hogan's “Crocodile Dundee” from a few years ago.
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
The dual protagonist of Andy De Vries / Denny Banister from “The Hambledown Dream” is one of my favorite creations because together, they represent both the dark and light sides of myself. In Andy, I sought to portray somebody who we really don't like when we first meet him. He is a self destructive character, filled with anger and resentment and he engages in the kinds of behaviour that would be repulsive to many of us. However, through his exquisite gift with the guitar, there is the tiny seed of good in him and it just needs that “something” to nurture it. Contrasting that with Denny Banister, who is everything that Andy isn't, he is someone who is kind and considerate, dedicated to his career and his true love Sonya. To be struck down by cancer in the prime of his life, when he has the world at his feet, it's something Denny cannot reconcile and the journey he undertakes to win that life back throws up an interesting character study into the lengths someone will go to achieve that end.
Sonya Llewellyn – the other protagonist in “The Hambledown Dream” was loosely based on my grandmother. When my Nana lost her husband of 48 years to cancer back in the early 90's, she did not grieve for a very long time. She just got on with her life and was there for our family as they dealt with their own grief. It wasn't until about a year after my Pa died that Nana acknowledged her own grief and she kind of collapsed for a while after. It was quite an experience, to witness her own grief play out and it was one that never left me. In portraying Sonya's own grief in “The Hambledown Dream” I eventually came to realize that this was my own journey towards understanding Nana's grief and the impact it had on her at that time.
7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
There is an unconfirmed rumor that American actress Kirsten Bell (Veronica Mars) owns a copy of The Hambledown Dream and absolutely loved it. Ihaven't been able to establish this as fact however but I would be totally blown away if it were true.
The Hambledown Dream
Australian Denny Banister had it all; a successful career, a passion for the guitar, and Sonya - the love of his life. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer.
Andy DeVries has almost nothing; alienated from his family, moving through a dangerous Chicago underworld dealing in drugs, battling addiction while keeping a wavering hold on the only thing that matters to him: a place at a prestigious conservatory for classical guitar in Chicago. As Andy recovers from a near fatal overdose, he is plagued by dreams - memories of a love he has never felt, and a life he's never lived. Driven by the need for redemption and by the love for a woman he's never met, he begins a quest to find her, knowing her only by the memories of a stranger and the dreams of a place called Hambledown...
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About the Author
Emerging onto the literary stage in 2010 when in his mid 30's, Adelaide based author and Pediatric ICU Nurse Dean Mayes describes himself as somewhat of a late bloomer, having almost given up on the prospect of ever being published. Dean had an idea for a story that he dearly wanted to tell however, and decided instead to blog the story rather than allow it to wither and die in his imagination.
Quite unexpectedly, the blog took off, quickly logging upwards of 3000 unique visits per month as a rapidly growing audience “tuned in” to Dean’s dream like tale of a young man who discovers he has taken on the memories and dreams of a complete stranger in the aftermath of a near fatal drug overdose.
Following a chance meeting with Canadian based publisher Central Avenue in mid 2009, Dean was signed by Creative Director Michelle Halket to an initial two year contract. In 2010, Dean’s humble blog became his debut novel “The Hambledown Dream” – a lyrical and moving romance about a young man’s journey on both sides of mortality. The novel has since gone on to receive global attention and critical acclaim.
Having established himself as an author of great passion and literary style, Dean set about penning a follow up novel that was not merely a repeat performance. After 2 years of meticulous research, Central Avenue Publishing released the powerful Australian family drama “Gifts of the Peramangk” in October 2012.
A third project, an experimental sci-fi novella entitled “The Regenesis Cluster”, was released in 2013. Dean describes this piece as an exploration of death and life, an artistic interpretation of reincarnation using words.
Dean is now working on his third feature length novel, the tentatively titled “The Recipient”.
Official Site – http://www.deanfromaustralia.com
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