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Meet Ray Bird Author of Why, Old Lady, Why?
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on September 15, 2012
 



Norm Goldman, Publisher  & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Australian Author  Ray Bird

            




Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Australian author Ray Bird whose debut novel is entitled Why, Old Lady, Why?

Good day Ray and thanks for participating in our interview.

Ray:

Hello Norm and thanks for speaking with me.

Norm:

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Ray:

For sixty years I have been a hobby writer –– writing poetry and bits and pieces of prose for the enjoyment of myself, my family and a few friends. My writing was a direct product of my reading, particularly my admiration of writers who could say so much with so few words.

I am a fringe dweller of the literary scene. I have never been a member of a writers’ group and writing competitions and the like have not held great attraction for me. Publication has never been a consideration, let alone a driving force.

Norm:

Has your environment and/or upbringing influenced your writing?

Ray:

Yes, it has been a major influence. As the son of a railway fettler I came from the wrong side of the tracks: this was no great hardship for I benefited from the rich and valuable experiences that such a socio-economic background can provide. My childhood background gave me empathy for those who are disadvantaged and marginalized in society, particularly aboriginal Australians who were so shamefully treated during my lifetime. My novel addresses some of the problems experienced by original Australians.

Norm:

How do you approach the work of writing? What does a typical writing day look like for you, from waking to turning in at night, and how does it compare to a conventional 9 to 5 job?

Ray:

I only write when I have something to say and wish to place it in my word processor. If I have nothing in my head I do not write. As a consequence I never experience writer’s block.

I follow a writing cycle that comprises three stages.

  • Nocturnal Cogitation. The development and clarification of ideas––at times, sub-consciously–– while I am in bed.

  • Pre Breakfast Writing. A furious couple of hours in which I write in pencil, getting down on paper the night’s cogitation before it is forgotten ... no attention is given to style, grammar or quality of expression.

  • Pre Dinner Writing. A leisurely time in which the rough material of the morning is polished and transferred to my word processor.

Norm:

When did you decide you wanted to write Why, Old Lady, Why? How did you come up with the title? What is the most favourite part of your book?

Ray:

Over the years I nursed the idea of writing a novel. For 7 years some material that I wrote in 2000 had sat in a cupboard drawer. I thought it could be the basis of a novel. The trigger to revisit the material and write a novel was idleness. A health scare in 2007 grounded me from riding my motorcycle (Kawasaki W650) and I had to give up competitive tennis and fly fishing.

The title is a quotation from the book. The term “Old Lady,” is a soubriquet––the name that the protagonist, a professional fisherman, gives to the lake in which he earns his living.

Favourite part? I enjoy writing dialogue––using dialogue to bring out nuances of characters and to illustrate the complexity of their relationships.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?

Ray:

My family urged me to self-publish in order to provide family and friends with a copy of the novel. I did not explore possibilities of commercial publication because Australian publishing houses are not interested in unpublished authors: most indicated on their websites that they would not even read a manuscript from an unpublished writer. Given this situation and the fact that I am in my seventies, I did not bother to flog my novel to agents or publishers.

A neighbour, with some insight into the literary world, suggested that I send samples of my writing to a small independent publisher. I sent 5 chapters to an outfit called BDA Books. Within 10 days Belinda D’Alessandro, the firm’s acquisition editor, offered me a contract.

Norm:

Are Australian writers any different from North American writers and if so, how and why?

Ray:

I suspect that there are more similarities than differences. Australian writers have for a long time had an obsessive interest in the vast hinterland known as the outback, despite the fact that over 90% of the population is urban and resides in a narrow coastal strip. This romantic focus has given to Australian literature a frontier and provincial quality. I think a similar case can be made for North American writing, particularly so in Canada.

As a result of the ‘frontier’ focus, a distortion has been created. Writers in both continents have failed to give adequate expression to the wide ethnic and cultural diversity of their urban populations.

My novel examines the theme of rejection–– of how an aboriginal, a migrant, an Asian refugee and a retired public servant cope with the rejection that they experience in an insular coastal Australian town. The theme is a universal one. The fictional town could well be in North America, Europe or wherever.

Increasingly, it becomes more difficult, and perhaps more meaningless, to try and indentify national differences in writers. In the global village, the human condition is an enduring constant.

Norm:

Do you write from your own experiences? As a follow up, are the characters in your book based on people you know or have encountered or are they strictly fictional?

Yes, I write from personal experiences. Some are faithfully represented and others are laced with embellishment and imagination. Most characters are strictly fictional. In two instances the characters are based on real people––disturbingly so. I am, in no small way, indebted to the many storytellers and raconteurs that have over the years, fascinated me with their ability to spin a yarn.

Norm:

What has been the best part about being published?

Ray:

Obviously it is satisfying to see one’s work in print. To witness the joy and excitement that the publication of the book has brought to my children and grandchildren gives me a real buzz. I value the experience of having worked with someone such as Belinda D’Alessandro of BDA Books––a writer, a publisher and a true professional.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and Why, Old Lady, Why?

Ray:

At this stage, my publisher, BDA Books, would be the best source of information. They have a dedicated page on their WEBSITE for my book:

Norm:

What is next for Ray Bird and is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Ray

My work on a second novel has been temporarily suspended. I have to put Why, Old Lady, Why? to bed–– and get it out of my head–– before I can fully focus on the new work.

I am very conscious of my good fortune in having my novel published; I feel for all the unpublished writers out there who face the task of finding someone in the industry who will read their manuscripts.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Ray

Thanks, Norm.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Why Old Lady, Why?