I had the pleasure of reading The Hambledown Dream by Australian author, Dean Mayes. An idyllic love is brought to an abrupt end when Cancer strikes and takes full control. However, the normal occurrence does not apply here; as one man was passing from this world, his soul inhabited the body of another who had overdosed on drugs.
The Hambledown Dream was an intriguing tale about a subject I'd never read - a reincarnation of sorts - and the author did a fabulous job with the story. I couldn't have hoped to succeed with such an endeavor of enabling two souls to become as one. If you would like to read my review of The Hambledown Dream, click here. (The link will open in another window.)
I was so fascinated by this author's story that I posed a few questions. I was interested in learning more about the man behind the story. Allow me to share with you what Dean Mayes shared with me.
Budden: What does being an author mean to you?
Dean: I sometimes compare being an author with being an artist and the more I think about it, they are almost one and the same. As an author, I paint with words, using the pencil or keyboard as my brush, the paper or screen as my canvas. The resultant work is an art form that is tactile only; it is felt in the mind and the imagination rather than in the hands. To me, being an author means being an artist.
Budden: When did you first realize that you wanted to write and publish a book? How old/young were you at the time?
Dean: I often cite my third grade teacher, Mrs. Furnell, as being the inspiration or the catalyst for my love of creative writing as it was she who really unlocked this love for the craft in me. We had a creative writing exercise we did in class each week and, for the longest time, I totally sucked at it. But Mrs. Furnell kept pushing me to succeed at it and, one day, I produced a piece that was really only a few lines, about a soldier's experience of war. The piece scored a coveted purple dragon sticker from my teacher and, from then on, I consistently produced good work from that one class. I realized probably around the time I finished University that I wanted to write a book and have it published but that journey was to take another 15 years and many failed attempts before it was finally realized.
Budden: From its inception, how long did it take you to write and publish your first book? Was the experience mostly rewarding or filled with varying levels of frustration?
Dean: I began work on what was to become my first novel in late 2008. At that time, I had pretty much given up on the idea of being published but I had this story I wanted to tell. So I took to the internet, started a blog and began writing this thing totally on the fly, with little to no expectation that anything would come of it. Except that, all of a sudden, I discovered I had this audience that was regularly "tuning in" to these posts which were happening about once a week. I was receiving a lot of encouragement and positive messages. And, out of the blue, a woman named Michelle Halket posted a message at my blog saying how much she liked the story and, would I consider taking a look at her small press - ireadiwrite (now Central Avenue Publishing). So I did just that and, deciding that ireadiwrite Publishing would be a perfect fit, I stopped publishing my story to the web and, instead, sat down to complete the manuscript proper. It was a relatively complex exercise as I was holding down a day job and raising a young family but I employed an editor and together we got the manuscript into a highly polished final draft which I completed on Christmas Day, 2009. I submitted the manuscript to Michelle and a week later she offered me a contract. The Hambledown Dream was released digitally in January 2010 and we went to print in March that same year.
Budden: Are you currently writing another book which you hope to publish at some point? If so, we'd love to hear more about it.
Dean: I am close to completing the manuscript for my second novel which carries the working title "Gifts of the Peramangk". It tells the dual stories of Virginia Delfey and her grand daughter Ruby who are Aboriginal Australians living in abject poverty and domestic violence in suburban Adelaide here in Australia. 8 year old Ruby is a young girl who has an extraordinary gift. She is an undiscovered violin prodigy who has been taught to play by her aging grand mother, Virginia who herself learned to play the violin during one of the darkest periods in Australia's modern history - The White Australia Policy & The Stolen Generations. Ruby's talent is about to be discovered and it will see a clash of cultures and worlds. She is presented with a chance to escape her life of poverty but ingrained racism, crime, violence and despair threatens to destroy her. Traversing two time periods - 1950's Australia and the modern day - both Virginia's and Ruby's stories are told in a way which influences and interweaves with one another.
Budden: Who has been a major source of inspiration for you as a writer/author?
Dean: I have cited an Australian journalist named Matt Price as perhaps my biggest inspiration as a writer. Matt Price wrote a regular satirical column in our national daily newspaper "The Australian" called "The Sketch". In it, he routinely deconstructed the daily goings on in Australian politics and society more generally - often taking a lot of the hot air out of it and journalling the foibles and the folly of political and social life. He was a wonderfully acerbic journalist with a wicked sense of humour and a passion for humanity. He was a joy to read. Sadly, Matt Price was diagnosed with a brain tumour in September 2007 and a mere two months after he was diagnosed, he died at his home surrounded by his family. He was 46 years old.
Budden: What is your ultimate dream, in terms of being a writer/author?
Dean: My ultimate dream as a writer was to be published and to have my work out there in the global market place. And I've achieved that so I guess it's a dream come true. Now, my focus is on finishing this second novel which, in many ways, has been much harder to writer as it deals with a lot of historical fact and cultural issues that are still very acute in my country today.
Budden: What is one of your favourite quotes? It can be from a book you wrote or something you heard throughout your life.
Dean: The Irish comedian and broadcaster Dave Allen always used to say this at the end of his program: "Good night, good luck and may your God go with you." It is a quite a lovely well wish and one I like to keep in mind.
Budden: Tell us a little about your life. What does an average day look like?
Dean: I'm a night shift worker (an ICU Nurse in a City Hospital) so my day usually consists of sleep. However, Monday is my writing day since I don't work weekends, so I usually rise in the morning, have breakfast before descending into my little cellar office where I will attend to business and write. I'll often play classical music softly as background accompaniment to my writing. Sometimes I'll run my 5 year old to school and pick him up in the afternoon after which I have to put down the pencil or keyboard and become the domestic father while my wife cooks dinner. I'll attend to my son's homework and play with my 2 year old daughter before drawing them a bath, getting pajamas on and dinner in. Then I'm usually getting myself ready for work and trying to get in the zone as a clinician.
Budden: What are three of your favourite hobbies?
Dean: I enjoy sailing my yacht in summer, I enjoy cooking outdoors in the garden on weekends and I love movies. I am (sort of) a movie nut, actually.
Read the great reviews of The Hambledown Dream by clicking here. You won't be disappointed.
Budden's closing thoughts: It has been a pleasure getting to know more about you, Dean Mayes, and I can understand the challenge it is in trying to find adequate time to write. I wish you all the best in completing your second book and, hopefully, it will be as well received as The Hambledown Dream.
Below you will find all of the titles Dean Mayes has published at Amazon. Click on any cover to be taken to a book's page on Amazon.