Monday, 18 April 2011

Dreamwalk Blog Tour: Interview with Sarah MacManus

Today on the blog, I have the brilliant Sarah MacManus, author of the awesome novel 'Dreamwalk' (my review here), who has kindly stopped by to answer some of my weird, wacky and wonderful questions (hopefully she thought so too LOL).

Anyway, before we get started with the interview, let me introduce you;

Sarah MacManus makes things up and then writes them down. She lives in the middle of the United States, but feels at home anywhere with a river. In the mundane world, she works as a freelance technical writer.

In SarahSpace, she spends her time rescuing princes from ravening monsters, restoring ancient races to their rightful place and making secret, shameful wishes come true.

Sarah loves the East Village, indie music, Cornish pasties, the smell of rain, Spitalfields, biochemistry and all shades of blue.

Sarah's work has appeared in the literary journal The Battered Suitcase and she has a poem forthcoming in an anthology from Little Episodes.

(Information taken directly from

Right..interview time =)

1. With such a variety of subjects available to write about, what made you choose to write about romance with such a serious undertone?

I admit, I had been planning for Dreamwalk to be a lot lighter and fluffier. The main character, Chloe, was very loosely based on a friend of mine. She died very suddenly and tragically (and far too young) while I was writing the first draft. After that, the book took on a much darker tone. Once I was actually able to work on it again, the story wanted to go somewhere deeper than just happy-ever-after.

Loving is a very important part of life, but not everyone gets their happy ending. And some people find themselves having to keep love alive through some very dire circumstances, financial hardship, addiction and even after death. Once the glamour of romance wears off, all that’s really left is the determination to express love and to act with love. I think that’s the most important thing – to decide to do that despite the dire circumstances, and that’s where the story wanted to take me.

2. What kind of research did you need to do for Dreamwalk?

I had to do quite a bit, actually. The Australian mythology for starters; although I was vaguely familiar with it. I read some fascinating work by Dr. Diane Bell, who delved deeply into the feminine side of the culture and wrote about it in an accessible way. The ancestor gods in the book are all significant to areas of personal growth and enlightenment in that culture.

I had to do geographical research as well. Although I’ve lived in both New York and St. Louis, I wasn’t as familiar with some of the areas that I wanted to write about and I was completely unfamiliar with Australia. I need to look up the statutes for liquor licenses and serving hours for New York. I needed to know if driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs was a feasible one-day trip. I also needed to know if these places would produce these characters.

And of course, I had to do research on heroin use, I now know more about heroin than I’d ever imagined knowing, because I wanted to understand it, so I could understand Shane. And I wanted it to be realistic and rooted in the science of neurochemistry, not the horror story propaganda that you see. The brain receptors for heroin are the same ones that use naturally produced endorphins to block pain while we fight or flee from danger. I had to know how it worked in the human brain, and why it’s so addictive, I needed to know how it was administered, I needed to make sure that Chloe didn’t use it enough to become addicted herself, and what they would give Shane at the hospital when he overdosed. I talked with people that have used heroin and some that have had a lot of trouble coming off. People with mental and emotional problems often use drugs to self-medicate their condition, which is what Shane was doing.

3. Which of your characters is most like you and why?

Probably Trish. I’m not a dedicated activist, but I do hold some very firm views about natural preservation. Trish is also kind of cynical and likes to emphasise the irony in situations. Trish is quite sardonic. She’s always giving advice and usually assumes that she’s going to have to be responsible for fixing things when they go wrong. For awhile there, she doesn’t want to do it anymore, but eventually she realises that no one but herself put her in that predicament and that’s the future she chose for herself and it’s the right one.

4. Do you have a favourite scene/chapter from Dreamwalk? If so, what is it and why?

If I had to pick one, I think the scene with Boris in the shower is my favourite. I’m not entirely sure why, except that it’s the most obviously comic scene in the book. And to be honest, I like Shane best when he’s being a little devilish. It’s nice to see him having a go at Boris and not being the self-loathing emo kid once in a while. It was also fun to see him being completely derailed at the end. Although Shane has a lot of flaws, he’s definitely one of my favourite characters, and it was fun to see him stripped of a lot of his self-protective attitudes and mechanisms in that scene.

5. Do you have a favourite place to go to read/write?

Not really. I normally do all my writing in my home office, with some music blaring. I’m not stuck on a place, really, but I do have to have the fan going and I have to be wearing flip flops, for whatever it’s worth. And coffee. I require lots and lots of coffee.

6. Describe your book in three words.

Surreal. Complex. Romantic.

Thanks again Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions =)

No comments: