Destined To Date A Good Man gives readers practical solutions to finding a Godly man and avoiding counterfeits. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I’ve seen so many women’s lives destroyed behind counterfeit men, and I’m fed up. I can relate to their suffering, because I was once a victim myself.
You give practical advice in a straightforward manner that I enjoyed. What were some ideals that were important for you to capture in this book?
I feel it is extremely important for me to expose the tactics and tricks that counterfeits use to manipulate their victims. It’s equally important for me to reveal how to spot them, avoid them, or break free.
What is a common misconception people have about dating and finding the right partner?
Women often believe that if he looks trustworthy, says the right things, or does good deeds, that he’s a good man. In many instances, this may be the farthest thing from the truth. Counterfeits are great actors, and can fool many people.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
This book will equip women with tools to empower them, and protect them from counterfeit men.
Do you feel as if he’s hiding something, but you don’t know what it is? If so, you may be dealing with a counterfeit. A counterfeit is a man who will mask his true intentions while he intentionally wastes your time, drains your resources, breaks your heart, or abandons you at his convenience. Since he is able to mimic the behaviors of a good man, he’ll manage to scam many women throughout his lifetime. It’s time to be empowered! Christian Author, Daisy Thomas will expose eight different types of counterfeits. She will also reveal numerous strategies a counterfeit will use to deceive you, and turn your life upside down. If you want to avoid getting played by a counterfeit, this book is for you. Inside you’ll find biblical and practical solutions to give you the best outcome. You’ll be empowered to recognize and break free from counterfeits in your life!
The Trial of Connor Padget follows Jack as he must defend his friend in a murder trial that has life changing consequences. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
As a trial lawyer, I often thought of the forgotten Atticus Finch. How might he react to our modern world? I created Jack as a man who has experienced the dangers of combat and the demands of loyalty. I wanted to portray him as a successful lawyer with all its worldly trappings. How would he react when his way of life was unexpectedly challenged? How much would he risk in order to stay loyal to a longtime friend?
I enjoyed the backstory to Jack Carney and the depth of his character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
An unexpected event forces Jack to reassess his life. He loves the practice of law but wonders if he hasn’t begun to go through the motions of handling cases in an automatic way. He misses his time of flying missions in the Air Force and questions the man he has become. Defending his friend in what seems to be a hopeless case brings him a sense of freedom he didn’t expect.
This is an exceptional legal drama that asks some serious moral questions. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
Jack sees a parallel in defending one’s family and defending one’s country. He is grateful for the chance to come to the aid of a family facing fallout from our, now transient, society which puts our children at risk.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The title is The Rise and Fall of the Pink Alligator: Jack’s T-shirt shop located on the beach in St. Augustine. Four other shopkeepers share a strip mall with Jack and, though they are all new friends, they spar over most everything – especially parking. A suspicious fire causes concern about a possible arsonist in their midst. The story explores the dream of a new life.
I hope to finish the first draft in seven months, but new ideas will appear to offer more depth to the writing, and I don’t like to tie myself to a strict schedule. Writing to me is a discovery process and to put it into a strict time frame would ruin that. I am now reading The Life of Pablo Picasso and hope to get some new ideas from his story to add to my characters’ lives. The spirit of modernism fascinates me and provides a contrast to the unique history of St Augustine, the oldest city in our country.
Jack Carney’s life is unexpectedly put on hold. He is not a criminal lawyer, but his friend needs help. He remembers his time in Japan flying covert missions against the Russians. What would his flight crew think of him now? By comparison his legal career lacks purpose. If he defends Connor, there will be consequences: his firm does not allow involvement in criminal cases.
This is the story of a trial that changes the lawyer’s life. If you like a bit of legal intrigue laced with a touch of Southern culture and the drama of a trial, you’ll like this story.
Hearts Set Free follows the interweaving tales of characters on a journey that illuminates both faith and love. What served as your inspiration for this wonderful novel?
People who know that Hearts Set Free contains autobiographical elements (and several historical characters) sometimes ask me, “How much of the story is true?’ And I answer, “Perhaps twenty percent—and the rest is even more true!” What drives my writing is the desire to convey truths that transform lives. Truths of the heart. There were several inspirations: the first was my own journey, from being an arrogant atheist (for the first fifty years of my life!) to a follower of Christ. The story was also born out of tragedy. At the prime of her life, only a few years after we had both become Christians, my late first wife was diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live. She’s very much the model for one of the major characters, Joan Reed. We chose to spend her last days on earth together in a small town in Alaska, and lived not far from the headquarters of the Iditarod, the iconic thousand-mile dog sled race. It’s no coincidence that my novel begins with the Great Race of Mercy of 1925, the heroic effort to get diptheria serum to Nome to save ten thousand lives, which inspired the Iditarod.
Yura and Luke are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
One of the themes of Hearts Set Free is how people come to faith and deal with doubt. I put aspects of myself into several of the characters, including young Luke, although I only wish I had his courage and purity of heart. Yura and Luke Noongwook are native Alaskans, mother and son, and they embark on a quest to bring back Victor, who is Yura’s husband and Luke’s father. He’s a hero of the Great Race of Mercy who has abandoned them for a beautiful reporter from New York. Yura has a warrior’s spirit, and has resolved to kill the woman who stole her husband. Thirteen-year-old Luke is desperate to have his father back. I won’t spoil the plot by revealing whether or not they find Victor and bring him home, or whether Yura follows through on her plans for revenge, but I’ll say this: on their long journey, these two, who at the beginning know only the Inuit gods, do find their true Heavenly Father. God draws all people to Himself, though some respond quickly and others come kicking and screaming. How they respond when the Hound of Heaven is nipping at their heels is the key to their character development.
Your characters overcome many obstacles and are testaments to the human spirit. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
First of all, I hope they enjoy the story and love the characters as much as I do. What I’d love for readers to be inspired by is how many of the characters seek to make their faith a reality in their day-to-day lives. There are several points in the story where characters are discussing Scripture, wrestling with difficult passages, and coming to terms with doubt. What does it really mean to follow Jesus? What is involved in forgiving our enemies, let alone loving them? My characters struggle to come to terms with these things, not out of some academic interest in theology, not as a Bible-study exercise, but out of a burning desire to love God with all their heart, strength, soul, and mind. If a reader is motivated to do the same, I’ve accomplished everything I could ever hope for in writing Hearts Set Free.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m hard at work writing The Church on Misfit Row, which is set in Las Vegas in 1955. God willing, it will be completed in 2020 and available shortly thereafter!
Hearts Set Free weaves together three tales of men and women who journey from the darkness of doubt to triumphant faith and from the ache of loneliness to everlasting love.
In 1930, the rag-tag riffraff of a railway stop called Las Vegas need a fighting man to shepherd their tiny church after their pastor is murdered. Might David Gold, a washed-up boxer and Bible-school dropout who fights as the Pummelin’ Preacher, be the answer to their prayers?
At the same time, Luke, a native Alaskan boy, is on a quest to find his father, who has abandoned his family for a beautiful woman his warrior mother vows to kill. The journey of mother and son will lead them to the Nevada desert, and to truths–and terrors–of which they’d never dreamed.
In 2011, Science Cable T.V. producer Tim Faber is determined to prove that mankind has no need of God, while his lover, Joan Reed, strives to regain the faith of her youth. They’re bound for Las Vegas to meet with a 99-year-old man who holds the key to a mystery they must solve–and answers that will forever change their lives.
Burn Marks is a collection of fictional short stories that give readers a unique perspective on historical events. Why was this an important collection for you to write?
- Fort Worth Star: The public only saw and heard about what Lee Harvey did. Nobody ever got to feel how Mrs. Oswald absorbed it.
- Ethel: The public heard and read what the government said she did. No one got to hear Ethel’s side of it.
- The Jumper: Sure, we know the skyjacker jumped from the plane with the money. What about that which his daughter went through.
- The Conductor: Of course, there were sympathetic whites in the south who opposed slavery. Her was one who had his own solution.
- It went without saying, Leopold & Loeb were the worst of the worst. What about a young women, hanging out with them, who was just as bad?
The stories are all engaging and well developed. Did you write them over time or did you write them specifically for this collection?
Each story is the result of an individual thought process. It was not until the last story was completed when I realized the similarities; the letters. That was when I decided to make a book from them. The first story that I did was about Ethel Rosenberg. For the longest time, I had been fascinated by how Ethel Rosenberg maintained her silence. She was eventually offered a deal by the prosecution: tell on your husband, Julius, spend minimal prison time, then be reunited with your children. She remained stedfast, silent. From that truism I was compelled to speak for her. When “Ethel” was completed, I knew that I had to venture out and speak for others who historians recorded differently.
My favorite story from the collection is Deja’ Blue. What is your favorite story from the collection?
Ethel is my favorite. For me, there is something nice, almost romantically innocent, about writing to Santa Claus in the face of the hardships that she suffered through. In a somewhat odd way, I found myself relating to that type of pen pal relationship—comforted in a canal of calm while in the center of a whirlwind chaotic storm.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a sequel to Burn Marks. Jack, Siobhan and Deja resurface. What is easy about the sequel is that readers need not have read Burn Marks to grasp the full flavor of my second book.
For The Love of Alison follows David who is a witness, and eventual suspect, of a murder who must rush to clear his name. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
In my first novel, The Secret Resort Of Nostalgia, I had a clear idea from the outset what the big mystery was and how the surprise reveal at the end would be done, so I only had to fill in the detail. This second novel, For The Love of Alison, was written the other way round. I started with a few details, like the unconventional college friend who marries a respectable solicitor, and the weird guy breaking into a house in a clown suit to perform a scene from a play, but I had no plot other than a vague idea about a murder which comes back to haunt the murderers. In fact, looking back, the material was so thin, it’s surprising that I thought it worth continuing. Only after I got the opening idea of “the murderer who doesn’t exist” did all the other ideas come thick and fast.
David is a London newspaper columnist, and I found his character to be interesting and well developed. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in his character?
I always create my central character as “man-in-the-street” and deliberately write my novels as first person narrative. Basically, I am saying to the reader: if you were put in this extraordinary situation that the protagonist finds himself trapped in, how would you try to get out of it? So, it’s important the reader can empathise with the character. He needs to be resourceful, persistent, basically a good guy at heart, whatever problems he might be experiencing in his life. And in this novel there is the initial element of uncertainty – has David fully recovered from his mental illness; how much can we trust what he is telling us?
I enjoyed the mystery embedded in this story, and the twists that came sudden and often. Were these planned or did they develop organically?
A mixture of both. For example, there is a startling twist about ten chapters in that sets up the fundamental mystery. I suddenly realised I could do something with the Alison character that would raise it above the level of a mundane, missing person story. The problem then was to come up with a resolution that readers would find convincing. I remember telling a friend I’d dug myself a very big hole and didn’t know how to get out of it. That’s where the organic plot development comes in, devising connections between people and events that make the apparently unfathomable all seem simple and obvious after the fact. However, it’s no pleasure for the reader if they guess too early, so I constantly misdirect, making it look like a situation is like this, or a character is like this, only to end chapters with a twist that effectively says “you weren’t expecting that, were you?”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have started on a third novel, which is more ambitious than the first two. It will have a central mystery and a central character who tries to unravel it, but there will also be a number of parallel plots involving political opportunism, environmental emergency, religious fanaticism, even a semi-erotic situation between the 20-something protagonist and his 50 year old boss. The setting will in the future, the year 2050, at an inland lakeside town in Ireland that has become a booming European tourist destination due to climate change. Optimistically I might finish by December 2019, but the following summer is a more likely time-scale.
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Journalist, David Buckley witnesses a murder. Only one problem – the murderer doesn’t exist, so now Buckley’s the chief suspect, and he’s on the run. Can he prove his innocence – and his sanity?
Student David Buckley’s obsession with fellow student, Alison Tindell, led to hospitalisation for mental illness. Thirty years on, Buckley, now a successful journalist, receives a surprise phone call from Alison, inviting him to visit. That same evening, a murder occurs; Buckley is accused, and Alison, his only alibi, vanishes. The police don’t believe she ever existed. Buckley escapes, travelling the country in a desperate search to find her before the law catches up. But someone else intends to find Buckley first, a person he fears more than anyone.
The Enchanters’ Child follows three unlikely allies on a quest to find the sorcerer as they try to keep their identities secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
A hero on a journey to defeat the main villain is a common story arc that I sought to put my own twist on. Since I was a kid, I have always been an avid reader and I often found myself being drawn to the magical worlds I could transport myself to. I loved the idea of creating a world where anything was possible whether that is through magic and otherworldly creatures. Inspired by these stories, I decided to write a fictional fantasy story of my own.
Wren, Quinn, and Zayne are all intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
The characters of Wren, Zayne, and Quinn are inspired by everyday teenagers. The way through which they struggle and attempt to find their identities is what makes them the most relatable. Despite this common journey to their identities, each one of them has experienced unique circumstances in their life that mold their beliefs and unique individuality. For Wren, the death of her parents causes her to become a determined, brave person that will do anything to find justice for the ones she loves. However, her thirst for revenge soon morphs into her own character flaw through failing to enjoy and live in the present. Zayne’s determining characteristic is his steadfast loyalty, whether that is to his kingdom or to his friends. His sense of duty is what drives him to aid in defeating the main antagonist as well as his empathy towards the world in which he lives in, as shown in his tenacity to find the killer of the many bodies that mysteriously begin to appear. Yet, his duty is the very thing that keeps him from his desires as he struggles with going against his father’s power and expectations. Last but not least, Quinn initially is a character portrayed to be callous and emotionless, with his only objective being to follow his orders, even if that means killing others to achieve it. Despite this, as the story progresses, readers discover that even the most notorious assassin has his own reasons for his actions, ones that can even be considered noble. Despite his sinister past, he learns to love the people around him. Quinn is unique in that his weakness is his own self. His own beliefs of his unworthiness and vileness causes him to push away those around him as he grapples between doing what is right and the sacrifices he must make if he chooses to do so.
The backstory to this world is intricate and captivating. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
The setting of The Enchanters’ Child was designed to have an enchanting atmosphere, complete with magic and strange beasts. I wanted to capture a world that reminds readers of the fairytale-like worlds that they are familiar with while showing that even the most remarkable places coexist with darker facets such as greed and misused power. Along these lines, I also wanted to capture that there can be beautiful brilliance in the bleakest of places, whether that brilliance is the surroundings around the characters or each other.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
As of now, the date for publishing my next book is tentative; however, I am in the process of writing another work.
Wren has a secret. She’s the last of the Arobol, a group of magic-wielders. After her parents were murdered by a dark entity when she was young, she has been trying to discover who has killed them. However, it wasn’t just anyone; it was the Dark Sorcerer, a being who is believed to exist only in a fairytale. When an unexpected tragedy hits, Wren is forced to flee to town in hopes of finding the leader of the Gavreel Society, said to have information on her parents’ killer.
Zayne has been working for months to uncover the reason behind the dead bodies showing up in multiple towns and the mysterious symbol that is etched into their skin. As Trading Day approaches, he goes to meet with his Gavreel Society to formulate a new plan for uncovering the person behind these killings. Little does he know that he’ll find the solution in a girl, one who’s holding as many secrets as he is.
Quinn is an assassin, killing anyone his Master orders him to kill. Tasked with finding the Enchanters’ Child and bringing her back alive in exchange for his freedom, Quinn won’t let anything get in his way. Yet, when he finally discovers the Enchanters’ Child, he finds himself questioning his ability to fulfill his mission. Weaving a story of deception, he befriends the Enchanters’ Child, but wonders if she is worth his freedom.
As they race to find the Sorcerer, each for their own reasons, secrets come out, powerful enough to tear them apart.
Saving Time follows two unlikely companions who must band together to save Scotland from a nuclear threat. What were some driving ideals behind this story’s development?
Rory is the son of Scott and Caitlin (Stolen Time: Community Chronicles Book 2) and is an emerging leader in a community of survivors founded by his parents. He is the head of his Militia team. Siobhan has grown up in the Scottish Government underground Bunker. She is a child of a scientist member of the Brains Trust, the group of specialists seconded to the Bunker when the world’s situation spiralled downwards after the Stock Market Crash forty-odd years previously. Plus, her team of scientists, technicians and Scottish Defence Force personnel.
These characters, and their respective communities, come from different worlds and have lived under the impression that their ideologies, types of governance, and lifestyles will be at odds. But they find out that they can and, indeed they must, co-operate for the safety of Scotland.
In so doing, they discover they are more aligned and alike than they had been led to believe. Those members of the teams involved, who had previous apprehensions regarding their need to co-operate, find that, with a little effort, they can. But not all are open to this, which causes more problems and threatens the success of the endeavors of the combined team.
I hoped to show that when people put their prejudices, preconceptions, and personal agendas aside they can cooperate and combine their efforts for the common good. And maybe even find something precious along the way, such as acceptance, a unity in common purpose, and even love.
Your characters are methodically and deeply developed. What is your writing process like to bring these characters to life?
I follow loosely the method of character creation outlined by Jeff Gerke in his book Plot Versus Character (2010. Writer’s Digest Books). Donkey was right, we are onions, and I develop my characters a layer at a time beginning with personality type as defined by the Myers-Briggs model. Then I work through the layers including physical appearance, back story etc. and, of course, their internal knot—their inner issue they will be forced to deal with during the course of the story.
For example, Rory is closest to an ISTJ, a sentinel type with defender/protective tendencies. He has a strong sense of responsibility and great loyalty to his family and Community. He struggles with his father’s death and is driven by the need to emulate the hero-figure status of his father. Well, I’ll let readers find out for themselves how that pans out.
What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books in the Community Chronicles?
I wanted to explore the beginnings of restoration. It is over forty years since the world descended into a dystopian chaos after The Stock Market Crash, and now a hitherto silent government is preparing to go up top and govern the country once more. The situation of a leaking nuclear war head on an abandoned submarine from a rogue state is the catalyst, but is Scotland, and indeed its underground government, ready for it?
What about those who have managed by themselves in this changed world without its leadership or intervention? How will the government diplomatically endeavour to connect with a people who have felt abandoned by them for the past forty years?
I wanted to explore the effects time travel may have on a human. Rory has made the journey to the past previously and does so again in this story. How has it changed him? Does he now have a special relationship with linear time?
Rory has a very different view of time travel than his father, Scott. Rory strongly believes the Time Machine should not be used for personal gain or manipulation and is determined it never will. His greatest fear is that the government will discover its existence.
I cannot wait to read book four in the Community Chronicles series. Where will book four pickup and when will it be available?
I’m so pleased you can’t wait to read Restoring Time. It picks up immediately from Saving Time with Rory desperate to bring Siobhan home. There is plenty of action, more time travel, and we meet once more Derrick Lloyd, from The Crash: Community Chronicles Book 1. All I will say is age has not softened him any.
I’m endeavoring to have this book published by the end of the year.
2061, forty-three years after the stock market disaster which changed the world.
Rory, Militia man and son of Caitlin and Scott Campbell, lives in a self-governed Community that exists independently from the Scottish Government.
Nuclear physicist, Siobhan Kensington-Wallace, has lived underground in the Scottish Government Bunker since the Crash. Along with the other children of the Brains Trust, she has been brought up to believe they are the elite who will bring restoration to Scotland.
Their opposing worlds collide when Rory discovers a submarine leaking radiation into a sea loch in the North Western Highlands. Forced to work together to save Scotland from annihilation, Rory and Siobhan discover more is at stake than neutralizing the current nuclear threat.
Will their attraction cause fallout of another kind…or will their allegiances divide them forever?
Issaura’s Claws follows Lluava as she is forced to take action against stereotyping and inequality in a kingdom divided by racism. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
Growing up in the South, one becomes aware of prejudices around oneself. Personally, I have always had a strong sense of equality whether for race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. As a result, I wanted my debut series to open up a dialogue about prejudice of all sorts. Throughout the Incarn Saga, my four-book series, the main character Lluava is blatantly aware of racial, religious, and gender divisions within her society, and she stands up against them. Yet, even she occasionally comes face to face with the fact that she, too, is influenced by flawed thinking and must overcome those learned behaviors.
Lluava is both strong and intelligent and her character gains depth as the story progresses. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I love strong women. I do. From historical figures like Pharaoh Hatshepsut to fictional powerhouses including Ripley from the Alien series or Laura Croft from Tomb Raider, I have always gravitated toward strong, self-confident, and empowered females. In my writing, I choose to focus on heroines that have great inner strengths though they may not all view them that way. As for Lluava, I wanted to shine a light on the fact that women can be smart as well as physically strong. I follow fitness competitors and have competed once myself, so more often than not, I find some time each day to work out in the gym. I also wanted my initial heroine to demonstrate that women can encompass intellect, physical prowess, and a curiosity for the unknown. Yet a good heroine is also flawed. I say this because all people are flawed. No one is perfect. Lluava is hotheaded and overly quick to act at times. As book and series progress, she must recognize and overcome her weaknesses and learn to make better choices — a great goal for every person.
The Kingdom of Elysia consists of humans and the shape-shifting Theriomorphs. Were the backstories for these races planned before writing or did they develop organically while writing?
The true beginning of the idea for the series came from a dream about humans transforming into animals. After that occurred, I was fixated on the concept, going over and over it before ever beginning to write it down. Because of this, the initial backstory of the two races from Issaura’s Claws developed rapidly. Only when nearing the end of my first draft did I realize there were three more books to come. With each subsequent book, I added more depth and complexity to the Kingdom of Elysia and the long and volatile history between the races.
This is book one in the Incarn Saga. What can readers expect in book two of the series, Ullr’s Fangs?
As mentioned earlier, the concept for the final three books came after Issaura’s Claws was almost complete. Because of this, the other books do have a darker, grittier feel as the world expands, the war intensifies, and morality is questioned. In Ullr’s Fangs, Lluava heads to the capital and encounters corruption within Elysia. New characters are introduced including a strong foil for Lluava’s military partner. And the enemy that they thought they had begun to understand is nothing like what they expected.
“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.
“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”
The Journal follows a young man’s search for his sister who has gone missing in Cambodia and finds more than he thought. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
In my early twenties, I spent two years travelling and working my way around the world. It was an exciting, engaging and enthralling adventure that I will never forget. Travelling on a shoe string budget, I began in Europe, traveled across Russia and China, moved down through South East Asia and into India before going across to Australia and New Zealand and, finally, into South America. I regularly wrote about my experiences whilst I was away and wanted to try to use this to create something, but at the time I wasn’t sure what.
A few years later, whilst doing some creative writing classes, I had an idea for a novel. I wanted to create a story that revolved around the search for meaning. I thought that it would be an interesting concept to try to explore this in the context of someone going on a literal search. I decided upon the idea of a young man searching for his sister after she had disappeared whilst travelling abroad. When I considered the setting for the story, I wanted to be able to authentically represent a part of the world in which the protagonist would instantly feel out of place and yet, at the same time, experience the wonder and amazement that the world can offer.
I liked Ethan’s character and thought he was well developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I wanted to write a bildungsroman style novel and to explore some of our most fundamental questions, such as: What does it mean to be a human being? Why are we here? How should I live my life? These are questions that everybody considers at some point. It is part of the human condition to question the nature of our lives; we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Most of the time we might ignore these questions, or not really consider them. Alternatively, we might push them to the back of our minds, thinking them unimportant in the hectic schedules of our day to day lives. However, as Albert Camus pointed out, these questions and the feelings that they evoke can push in and abruptly occur to us at any point, even just walking around a street corner. At any time we can be struck by the question of what is this really all about? And that feeling of not knowing why we are here and what’s going to happen can be quite powerful.
These questions can feel even more significant when we are on the cusp of adulthood, a time when emotions can run high, we are trying to work out who we are and are still yet to put together the pieces of our lives. When I began to write The Journal I wanted to try to create a character who would capture some of the naivety, anxiety, curiosity and idealism that comes with facing these questions at such a delicate time of life. After some different ideas, I settled on Ethan Willis, a bright, fragile eighteen-year-old boy who often struggles and feels frightened by the uncertainties that life throws at him. In The Journal, I chose to really bring out Ethan’s insecurities by making him have to go look for his absent elder sister who disappeared and was last seen on an adventure in South East Asia.
The story takes place in Cambodia and Laos. Why did you choose these locations for your novel?
When deciding on the location for the story, I turned to the notes I had kept whilst away for inspiration. Reviewing my travel writing and thinking back to my time there, I felt that South East Asia would be the perfect setting for the story. There is such a rich depth of variety, colours, tastes, sounds and experiences in South East Asia that I felt it would be the ideal place to throw my protagonist in at the deep end and highlight his sense of feeling out of place in this world. Travelling in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand can offer a visceral experience in which the beauty, awe and challenge of the world are never too far away.
In creating the world in which the protagonist, Ethan, inhabits, I drew from my memories of the back-packing scene in South East Asia: the conversations with strangers on bus journeys; the late night parties and philosophical discussions; the characters and personalities encountered along the way; the nature and intensity of the fleeting yet meaningful relationships formed in such an environment; the stunning beauty of some of the scenery; the pleasure seeking escape of being somewhere you might never be again; the desire to be individual and meaningful; the recreational drug use and the search for answers; the disdain for, and lack of understanding of, ‘real’ life; and the impact that this industry can have on those who have to live through it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have recently finished a first draft of my second novel and am currently beginning the painful process of editing. My second novel is a very different type of story and is a thriller set in a world that is like our own but with one important difference. I hope to have a second draft completed by the end of the year.
Ethan Willis is a confused 18 year old who struggles with the uncertainties of life and has just embarked on a quest to find his elder sister, Charlotte, who disappeared whilst travelling in South East Asia. Ethan admires and idolises his sister for her spontaneity, individualism and worldly understanding. His quest to locate her throws him into the backpacking world and, following what could be his sister’s ghost, he is taken on a journey through the countryside of Cambodia, into the remotest parts of Laos and finally to the party islands of Thailand.
When Ethan finds his sister’s journal by chance, he traces her footsteps. The travel journal, along with flashbacks to their childhood, reveals Charlotte’s nature and her relationship with Ethan, taking the young man on an existential journey as he is led to address many of his questions about meaning, truth and beauty.
With the help of Elodie, a fragile and complex girl with whom he has developed a meaningful relationship, and his own growing sense of self-esteem, Ethan begins to question his relationship with his sister and why she disappeared. When he finally learns of a place in which he might be able to locate his sister, will he be ready to find her?