Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello Fiona. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my book today.
My name is Wayne Snowden. I am 55 years young.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in York, England.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up in a traditional working class family. My mother was a second generation Irish catholic from County Cork. My father grew up on a farm near York. After WWII he trained as a bricklayer. Together they raised six healthy children. I am number five, between the two girls. I studied at a local school and left home at 17yrs, which was fairly usual then, and have since been living a life, its highs and lows. I spent some of my time travelling, but mostlyworking in small charities with people experiencing the low side of life – homelessness, addiction, mental ill health, offending behaviours as victims and perpetrators.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have recently completed and self-published my first novel, Padma and the Elephant Sutra.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I only began writing fiction when I started my novel in the summer of 2016, straight in at the deep end in this instance. The idea had been in my head for about three years and I could not shake it off, planning scenes etc. I had the opportunity to write so I sat down and did just that.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure I do. Certainly, I can write, and I have completed and published a novel. But it does not feel a core part of my identity yet. My first review (UK) describes a brilliant book written by a‘budding author’. Perhaps when I have fully bloomed I shall embrace my inner flower.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Sources of inspiration were manifold. The plight of elephants, travels in East Asia, half a lifetime of questions, a client with severe anxiety who wrote a book and showed me it was possible.
I remember when the ‘penny dropped’ that I could write it. I was in a hotel room in Sri Lanka with my wife, researching her family’s history on the island. I was thinking about the so called ancient relationship between humans and elephants, how the elephants had been left largely undisturbed in the mountains for about 3 thousand years, since the arrival of modern humans. It occurred to me elephants had been doing their thing on the island, without the gracious consent of humans, for 300 or 400 thousand years, maybe longer. I started to wonder what the elephants had been up to in all that time in the paradise they nurtured as a keystone species. I borrowed freely from imagination’s store.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Padma means sacred lotus in Sanskrit. The plant has a central role in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. In the story Padma is discovered and named by elephants after emerging from the muddy waters in the manner of a lotus. Sutra is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘string’ or ‘thread’whereby ideas or knowledge are woven together.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
As this is my first novel, my style is probably still developing. I did not think about genres when I began writing. What I find challenging is defining my genre. I am settling on visionary/metaphysical with shades of science fiction, fantasy, historical, and definitely xenofiction, perhaps animal-visionary-sci-fi, or metaphysical-historical-fantasy, or speculative elephant fiction. I would love to know the thoughts of anyone who reads the book. I have a whole blog article on the matter.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book speculates on an alternative history which proposes ancient human knowledge as a trace memory of a far more distant elephant truth. It is a post-modern Promethean tale. Events in time and place are carefully researched. The main human character George began with one of my wife’s distant relatives. He has an alter ego, Arthur, and together I think they represent various aspects of the human condition. As it all came out of my subconscious, I am probably reflected in them more than I like to admit.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have visited Sri Lanka, where the story is located, several times. It helped me later visualise much of the plot and locations. More importantly, researching family history in Sri Lanka opened me to ideas I might otherwise not have imagined or developed. Living in England never gave me much cause to consider elephants, their history, or their plight.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Francesca, my wife. She is the artist in our house. Always stitching, painting, designing, making, and creating.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. We are responsible for what happens to the natural world. We must take its stewardship more seriously. We must not be afraid to love. In fact, it should be encouraged, our reason for living. A totally different relationship with ourselves, each other and the planet. I believe it is our only way forward.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Not as such. I have been reading a lot of recovery stories of late. Very moving and inspiring tales of how people find hope in adversity.
My favourite writer is J. Krishnamurti. I love his message.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. No.Maybe. I would love to write full-time and see where my characters take me but I now have to earn money to pay the rent. My dream is to make money for elephant charities, which means supporting myself enough to be able to devotesome time to writing. With research, writing and editing and publishing, my book has taken a year to complete, so not a simple undertaking.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I am happy to have met all the characters, learned about their stories and watch them develop.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a huge amount, aside from all the research for my book. I learned a lot about the craft of writing. It is a steep learning curve when self-publishing. Having little money I learned to do it all myself, an agonisingly frustrating process at times, but I came out of the other side the wiser for it I think.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Padma would need to be animated. I think the voice of a young female Sri Lankan actor. George I see as lean and in his 60’s. Perhaps Sir Daniel Day-Lewis if someone could persuade him to come out of retirement. I could see him wandering the jungles with his musket.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
To new writers like myself – I wrote about something which captured my heart. I embraced the whole process and to this day I love my characters, perhaps a little too much. I must stop quoting Padma in social settings. I am over-identifying a little too much methinks. My point being, the writing should be its own reward and may in fact be your only reward. It is a crowded marketplace and very difficult to get heard. My creation is enough in itself and I don’t regret the time spent.I would love to fundraise for elephant charities, but first I must sell books – another steep learning curve.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Give a review. They mean a lot. Even if you just write ‘I enjoyed the book’.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Grand Theft Octo by Niels Saunders. It was on a free promotion. When I have finished I shall give a review.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I grew up in house without books. We always had the Guinness Book of Records at Christmas for some reason. I remember once being read to in infant school while sitting on the teachers lap. There was a wild man in the story who came out of the woods (no prizes for guessing the title). I was captivated by those woods and the mysterious man who lived in them. The first book I read myself from cover to cover was Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein, a 1953 science fiction novel in my school library.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh – spontaneous absurdity. Slapstick without the slap or the stick. But it has to surprise me.
Cry – Any injustice can set me off. Doleful eyes and violins can work too.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I want to meet people of the future. I want to know if we survive or become super-efficient machines, which seems to be our greatest aspiration currently.
In the past, maybe a great teacher like the Buddha.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I go to a local gym in the hope of living a long and healthy life.
I like writing.
I like waking in nature; woods, hills, meadows. I am a wanderer. I could happily just keep on walking past sunset.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Very eclectic. I watch a lot of films. Mainstream films I really enjoyed on release include, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Kung Fu Hustle, Groundhog Day, Goodfellas.
TV shows I liked include, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Fargo, the Sopranos, Madmen.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love curries having spent a few years in India. I make a very decent chapatti. My favourite colour is…uhm rainbow colour? I think all colours are beautiful. Perhaps I should have just written elephant’s breath.
I grew up on punk rock but I generally like most retro music from English Folk to Indian Classical, from Dylan to Sabbath. I like to hear some funky soul in my music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Wander about talking to the trees.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Sounds a bit sinister. Do you knowsomething I don’t?
I would like an Oak tree for a headstone, in a forest burial ground.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I have several, but my blog is where you will usually find me.
Blog – elephantsutra.wordpress.com
Amazon Author page – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B06Y4DTSK3
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pinkproboscidean/
An excerpt is available here
Purchase here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y17GCPY