The Hambledown Dream By Dean Mayes
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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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”.
So it's now time to have a chat with Dean. Get your cup or tea or coffee and pretend you're sitting comfy in a chair having a cosy chit chat with our guest author. I find we can learn from each other in these Q & A sessions and love to see how other authors approach their writing careers.
Before we begin perhaps you might be interested in winning a copy of Dean's book. Please just click in the Rafflecopter Giveaway.
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Are you a full time author or do you have another job as well and if so how do either or these fit in with writing time?
I am an Intensive Care Nurse working mainly with children, so I juggle my writing with my “day job” as such. I am also a husband and father to a 7 and 4 year old and they keep me well on my toes. I am able to devote two full days per week the business and craft of writing as I mainly work night shifts and these hours vary slightly to the average 9 to 5. Mondays and Tuesdays are my writing days.
Do you write on your novel daily or do you try to have days off?
Presently, I write when I can. I'll steal moments of time outside of the two full days I mentioned earlier so if I'm on a meal break at work, I'll have a notebook in hand or my Samsung Tablet close by so I can work. I'll also try to do some work after I get home from work and the house is quiet. This is actually really good because I use it as a way to wind down from what can often be a pretty demanding shift at the hospital.
Do you ever go back to a ‘published’ book and alter it for improvement?
I retooled my 2010 debut “The Hambledown Dream” after release based upon some feedback my publisher received about a couple of plotting issues. With my subsequent releases “Gifts of the Peramangk” and “The Regenesis Cluster” we spent a great deal of effort on their editing so once they were released, we didn't revisit them.
What is the most effective marketing for your books?
I don't know if I have found the most effective marketing tool yet. Undoubtedly, the web has enabled me to reach a truly international audience and social networking has been a large part of that reach. I've done both terrestrial and internet radio interviews also and I've found these to be a great way of reaching my audience in a more organic sense. People respond well to hearing my voice I think. It's tangible whereas my social media presence can often get lost in the rather big ocean of social media “white noise” that is out there.
Can you tell us about any romance in your novel The Hambledown Dream?
“The Hambledown Dream” - my 2010 debut for Central Avenue Publishing is perhaps my most romantic work to date – for it is primarily a romance. It tells the story of a young man whose life is torn apart by a terminal illness – but his death is not the end of his journey. It is merely the beginning.
Australian Denny Banister is a young man who has 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...
What are your best tips of how to create a fighting scene?
I'm working on a project right now where there will be some action and fight scenes but I have to confess, I'm somewhat of a novice when it comes to these sorts of scenes. That said, I think the best examples of fight scenes in the written form are ones that depict the emotions of the combatants, their thought processes as well as the physical dynamics. You want to get inside the heads of these characters in order to “feel” what they are feeling within that scene. So balancing your action with thoughts and feelings, I think, is the best way of constructing a great fight scene.
Do you feel the sadness if you have to write a sad scene?
I do. In “The Hambledown Dream” I explored the grief of one of the protagonists, Sonya Llewellyn, who has to go on after losing the love of her life in Denny. In order to do that, I spent a lot of time, making notes about how I dealt with my own grief at losing both friends and family. Recalling those memories did evoke those acute emotions I felt at the time and I was able to channel those into my writing. I still have the tear stained notes I made when I was writing “The Hambledown Dream” (laughs here).
Did you write as a child or did you come into your talent as an adult?
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. We used to do these little creative writing exercises that I initially found really hard. However, my teacher pushed me until one day, I produced this little piece about a soliders experience of war. For that, I received what was then quite coveted – the Purple Dragon sticker. 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.
What is the time period setting of The Hambledown Dream?
The Hambledown Dream is set in mid to late 2010 which occurred a few months after it was published. Actually, when we were editing it, dates and times came up a lot in the conversations I had with the editing team, because we had to work out when certain events happened in the story – for example, the International Guitar Festival that occurs toward the end of the book. We had to actually set a date for that so I could back track and work out where certain other plot points occurred – like Andy catching a flight from Chicago to Australia. My editor even went as far as suggesting a real world flight that would get him there. It was bizarre but also a lot of fun.
Do you prefer to write as a series or one off books?
At this point, I don't think I have the discipline to write a series so my novels tend to be one offs. However, I have borrowed characters from “The Hambledown Dream” and placed them into “Gifts of the Peramangk” and this turned out to be a really satisfying move. I also plan to revisit another Hambledown character for my latest project but I'm going to keep that one under wraps for now.
Do you like to use lots of subplots or do you think this just confuses?
Not at all. So long as subplots serve the main story, I think they are an essential part of creating a convincing narrative. I employed subplots in both “The Hambledown Dream” and “Gifts of the Peramangk” and I am really happy with how they informed the main story. It allows you to enhance the characters and situations in really satisfying ways.
What is the relationship of the protagonist and the antagonist in The Hambledown Dream?
The dual protagonists of Denny Banister and Andy De Vries work as both the protagonist and antagonist I think in that they represent both the dark and light sides of the same individual. It is a complex idea and would require me to spoil much of the novel for you so I'll leave you to ponder that one.
Do you find reviews useful?
I do and I read every review I receive. Often, reviewers will draw my attention towards things that I hadn't considered before – story telling elements, things they didn't like, things they did like and I'll make notes about those comments so I can improve my writing style. And, of course good reviews provide the little ego boost that we writers always like to get because it makes us feel good. I used to struggle with bad reviews but I've come to live with them and draw positive messages from them.
Do you think all readers should do reviews to help the writers improve?
I would love to receive reviews from as many people as possible. As I said earlier, I do take notice of them so the more I get the better I feel I can be as a writer.
When you receive reviews do you find yourself influenced to make changes?To the existing works – no but to future works – most definitely.
Thank you Dean for the opportunity to win a copy of your book and for chatting on my blog today.