Today, I am in Adelaide, Australia with Dean Mayes, author of The Hambledown Dream. We’re having a bite of lunch and a glass of ale here at the pub.
Naomi: You all know the drill by now, let’s start with just a brief synopsis of your book. In 20 words or less, tell me what it is about.
Dean: Two men die. Both are brought back but in different ways. They rely on each other to find their love.
Naomi: That’s incredible, Dean!
Dean: Thank you. I thought it was an interesting premise to explore.
Naomi: No, I meant that you were able to use exactly 20 words. You’re the first person who has been able to do that without me cutting them off or encouraging them to say a bit more. Let’s get on with the interview, shall we? Who is your favorite character and why? You can use more than 20 words from here on out.
Dean: Andy DeVries is probably my most favorite in The Hambledown Dream. He represents a combination of dark and light in his nature which is representative of my own nature, I guess. That is not to say that I am anything like him nor have I ever dabbled in what he does, but Andy has a psychological battle going on inside him when we first meet him. He has the potential to be a good person, but it has been lost in the things he does and the people he chooses to associate with.
Naomi: So if Andy rang you tomorrow and said, “Hey, let’s go do something.” What and where would you go with them?
Dean: I’d probably introduce them to my favorite pub down here in Adelaide – The Wheatsheaf Hotel. It is a wonderfully eclectic pub that has become one of Adelaide’s finest live music venues. Andy and his prolific talent would suit “The Wheaty” down to the ground. He is a trained classical guitarist but he can switch between that and more contemporary guitar music. The pub also serves a host of beers on tap that are sourced from local brewers and micro-brewers. I’ve often compared The Wheaty to a winery where one goes to try and taste wines. Here, you can try out a number of different beers from ales, to stouts, to pilsners. It is quite literally a cornucopia of brews to satisfy almost any taste.
Naomi: And it hits both the lightness and darkness of his spectrum in a “beer” sense. Do they have our fabled Port Townsend Ales there?
Dean: I’ll check.
Naomi: What’s the hardest part about writing your book?
Dean: I’m a terrible procrastinator, as most writers will identify with, and I don’t plan things out to the grittiest detail. As such, I often struggle with achieving and maintaining a flow in my writing. In beginning, I was writing “The Hambledown Dream” as a blog because I thought I would never be published. But then I was discovered by my publisher, Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing in Vancouver, and she encouraged me to commit to the project seriously. For a chronic procrastinator, it was almost too much to overcome – but somehow, I did it. I should say here that I have become a lot better in this regard and I do structure things a great deal more than I used to.
Naomi: What’s the easiest part?
Dean: Funnily enough, it is editing that I really enjoy and find easy to do. I think, because of my style, which is fairly organic and unstructured, I allow myself to remain open to change – so long as it serves the story well and the characters within it. Editing allows me to refine and sculpt and I get a buzz from that process. I have been known to leave a lot of material “on the cutting room floor”.
Naomi: You truly have a gift if you enjoy editing. Do you do anything else besides write and if so what is it?
Dean: I have become somewhat of an organic gardening tragic in the mould of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is renowned in th UK and Australia through his TV series “River Cottage” and his business empire of the same name. I can often be found in my inner city garden, trying to grow vegetables and herbs – with mixed success and I’ve recently turned my attention to the art of composting. As an extension of that, I have tried my hand in the kitchen, taking a crack at all sorts of recipes that make use of the food I have grown. I drink wine – a lot of it. And I also sail. I have a small yacht which I take out on the waters off Adelaide during the summer months and I derive a great deal of satisfaction from that. My son recently turned 6 and he is beginning to take an interest in sailing as well.
Naomi: Wow! We must be related. I try to grow vegetables and don’t succeed and end up composting them instead. I also love sailing although I am currently boatless in Seattle. What’s in the bottom of your purse, backpack, attaché or whatever you carry?
Dean: I am never without my red leather journal which my wife bought for me a couple of years ago. It is an exquisite book that I use to write down all of my ideas and musings. I only ever write in pencil in it – for some reason, I can’t bare the thought of tainting it with ink – and over the time that I’ve had it, I’ve added pictures and pieces of photocopies and all sorts of bizarre scribblings that I made when I didn’t have it within an arms length.
Naomi: Okay, we’re not related. I haven’t used a pencil in years. Name one character in your story that is based on a real person and tell us who it is and how they are similar.
Dean: Lionel Broadbent – who is a sort of father figure to the story’s female protagonist, Sonya Llewellyn, was based on British actor Geoffrey Palmer who I’ve long been a fan of. Palmer played opposite Judi Dench in the BBC television series “As Time Goes By” in which his character (also named Lionel) presented as an outwardly curmudgeonly, cynical fellow but who had a heart of gold and a wonderfully urbane sense of loyalty to those around him. Geoffrey Palmer pretty much channeled himself into that character throughout the series 11 year run and so, I took elements of him and channeled them into my own Lionel character.
Naomi: Excellent series and wonderful actor. Did you ever wonder if you were a little crazy for writing fantasy?
Dean: I think so. I have traditionally read political thrillers, murder mysteries, science fiction and adventure books, so to actually step out of those subjects to write a romantic fantasy was, in my mind, more than a little screwy. But, for some reason, I had to do it. The story for The Hambledown Dream was so evolved in my head – even before I seriously sat down to write – I just couldn’t ignore it.
Naomi: That seems to be the case for most of us fantasy writers though. Someone told me it’s because our brains are operating on a higher plane. Personally, I think it may be something we all ate. Did your friends ever wonder the same thing?
Dean: Oh – I got some amazing looks from my friends when I told them that I was writing it.
Naomi: Ah, but did they buy? That is the next question. You can buy Dean’s book clicking on the links below. Thanks for joining me today, Dean. I’m just going to hop over to that sweet shop for some of the world’s best licorice before I head back to the States.
Dean: I recommend Haighs Chocolates on Rundle Mall. They have thee best chocolates and licorice money can buy.
Naomi: Thanks Dean. Yum!