June 4, 2014

Interview with S.R. Wilsher, Author of THE COLLECTION OF HENG SOUK

What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?

Right now I’m working full time as a Research Data Manager because I’m not making a living at writing. So really I don’t consider myself an author – and probably won’t unless it was to provide a proper income. That said, writing has impacted on my life considerably as it’s always been my main focus and disrupted any salaried career. It’s difficult to know what other careers are like from the outside, but I sometimes wonder if I should have been an architect.

5 years ago: what were you doing?

Then I was on dialysis and being worked up for a kidney transplant that happened in July 2009. I had been working as a Sales Manager but the recession saw an end to that, and the looming transplant prevented me getting another job for a period. But I was very productive with my writing and I got a taste of what it might be like to work full time as a writer. I enjoyed it.

Do you have a certain writing ritual?

When I wasn’t working I used to write for three hours each morning and then again in the afternoon. Now that I work full time, most of my writing happens late into the evening. Although I don’t work to a daily work count, I do set myself monthly and quarterly targets for both writing and editing. When I complete a book I rest it for a while as it always looks different after a break.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The first submission I made many years ago was rejected with the advice, ‘go away and learn the craft of writing’. It felt harsh at the time, but it was the best advice I could have been given and, in hindsight, fortunate for me that my writing at that time never saw the light of day.

Is there an author you'd like to meet?

None living, but I’d like to witness the reality behind the myth of Hemingway.

Biggest writing pet peeve?

I love the one to one relationship between author and reader, but I hate the need to sell the product.

Do you read other's reviews of your books?

I do. I think it’s important to understand what the reader sees in the story, especially when it’s at odds with what I wanted to put across.

Fun Five:

Fav Color: I like strident colours like red and purple and orange, but wouldn’t have any of them in my life. In reality mine’s a monochrome world; black for cars, white for shirts and grey for suits.

Fictional Character you'd like to spend the day with? TinTin – what a great ride that would be.

Fav food: Cheesecake – and too many other sweet things!

Fav song and/or singer: So much and so many types but, if pushed; Everlong by the Foo Fighters

Guilty pleasure: Not so guilty, just necessary; Coffee and Chocolate

When her father dies, Sun Tieng visits his estranged brother, Heng Souk. Yet her frail, elderly uncle, a Vietnamese War hero, is very different from her tough and testing father. When she discovers in his house a notebook written by American POW, Ephraim Luther, detailing his torture by the prison commandant she is startled by what she learns.
Meanwhile, Thomas Allen, still reeling from the death of his daughter and the breakup of his marriage, is told that the man he always called Dad was not his father. His mother gives him a batch of letters she still has from the ‘real’ father, Jefferson Carlisle. Their tragic love story prompts Thomas to find out why his mother’s ‘greatest love’ never returned to her after the Vietnam War.
His search leads him to the notorious prison ‘the Citadel’, and to Sun and her uncle. Despite the hostility of her brutal husband and mother, Sun is drawn to Thomas. Aware that the fate of Thomas’ father is revealed in Ephraim’s notebook, she is torn between helping Thomas in his search and the damaging effect revealing what is in the notebook will mean for them.

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