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The Good Book Appreciation Society

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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival: Paige Nick interviews Tomas Raymond

Last Sunday The Good Book Appreciation Society hosted another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival, during which Paige Nick chatted to Tomas Raymond, a British author, about the short story that garnered him over 60 000 hits, and led to the release of his novel, My Father’s Ghost.

To join the Good Book Appreciation Society send a friend request to Bea Reader on Facebook, or write to goodbookappreciation@yahoo.com to receive your invitation.

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Here’s an excerpt from that interview:

Paige Nick: 60 000 hits on a story is pretty remarkable, particularly in South African terms, where most authors are lucky to get a couple thousand readers.

Tom Raymond: I’d written a novel and quite a few short stories and was posting stuff on my blog. I had started to write things that I posted on a Flash Fiction site but didn’t think anything of it. You know how it is: after a while you stop checking how many people are reading you in your “overview”. Then, one day, I checked and there it was: 60,000 hits. I’m still bewildered, frankly.

Paige Nick: 60 000 hits on just one story?

Tom Raymond: That’s right.

Paige Nick: That’s My Father’s Ghost, right? Do you have any clue where the hits were coming from or what caused them?

Tom Raymond: No: I really haven’t. Honestly? I kept wondering if people were just googling the word “ghost” and getting me by mistake. But 60,000 of them? Unlikely, I suppose.

Paige Nick: Were you getting comments on the story or was it just the hits?

Tom Raymond: No: I got a few comments. All very positive. A friend of mine thinks that it just struck a chord. It’s been about a year since I found out. It spurred me on; it was why I ended up publishing on Kindle. (And naming the book after the story, of course.) I also post on my blog twice a week now.

Paige Nick: So once the story got all those hits, you decided to publish it in a book?

Tom Raymond: Yes. I’d been waiting for the big hand to come down, you know? The one from the publisher or agent that points at you and says: “It’s you!” Then I thought that, seeing as I was already getting all of these readers myself, I might as well give epublishing a go.

Paige Nick: It’s such a unique path to publishing. You can see how the story might strike a chord, it’s written on a deeply personal theme, a man who is visited by his father’s ghost.

Paige Nick: Sorry that’s not a question.

Tom Raymond: No. A pertinent statement, though.
March 16 at 9:19am · Like · 3

Paige Nick: What struck me the most, once I’d read the whole book was that I found My Father’s Ghost wasnt my favourite story in the book. Yet somehow that was the one that garnered the most interest and really paved the way for the rest of the book.

Tom Raymond: No: it’s not my favourite story, either.

Paige Nick: As far as construction goes, just to give our readers a little background. There are 14 stories in this book. Seven of them are completely interconnected, building the narrative plot and skeleton of the book. While the other seven inbetween, are interludes of a sort. Have I got it right, is that how it works?

Tom Raymond In answer to your first question: no, I wouldn’t have guessed [it would be this story]. my money was always on “The Photographer”. And, yes, your analysis of the structure is spot on. But the theme is constant throughout.

Paige Nick: Yes, The Photographer is fab. ‘Australia’ and ‘Class’ were personal favourites too.

Paige Nick: What’s remarkable about this collection is that it feels like it’s been plotted like you would plot a novel. Is that how you approached it? I’m also curious about how much of it you had written when My Father’s Ghost went viral.

Tom Raymond Thanks. I like “Class”. (Am I allowed to say that? Never sure.) I like things to be structured. I like things to chime off each other, too, in unexpected ways. Life’s like that, I think; all of those strange links you find between people and their thoughts and their likes and dislikes. I’d written pretty much all of it when “My Father’s Ghost” took off.

Paige Nick I think you can say that. The linked stories contain tension and plot, and great building characters, all neatly punctuated with the other stories, the interludes as you call them. Why the interludes, and not just Lilly and her family’s story?

Tom Raymond: I wrote Lily’s story first, then added the first and last story a little later on. I didn’t have much more to say and I guess I wanted to branch out: to examine relationships in different settings and different contexts. I was becoming more confident as a writer, too: I felt as though I had more idea of how I wanted to describe what I was describing.

Paige Nick: It feels hugely seamless in the reading of it. I’d never thought about it before I’d read your book, but what struck me is that the construct you created gave you the perfect opportunity to do something slightly different. And it felt to me like things almost happened to the characters between stories. This probably isn’t making much sense. But my experience in reading it was that the pivotal plot point actually happens to the one character while you’re focussing on the other character… between the cracks.

Paige Nick: I think what I’m trying to say in a very garbled way, and without any spoilers, is that the structure perfectly fitted the story. It opened up nooks and crannies that may not be there in a novel.

Tom Raymond: That’s a very perceptive point. It was deliberate, that. What I always knew was that Lily was abused by her father. But when I wrote my first story (“Rio”), which shows the father’s tastes in a very oblique way, I’d just had a daughter. I couldn’t bear to describe the actual abuse, so I had to find a way around it. In the end, that restriction, and the necessity for a solution, made a shape for the book that seemed appropriate. And all the interludes are about one form of abuse, or delusion, or another. I’m glad you saw that: the structure is almost part of the story. Those silences are appropriate to the subject, I think.

To read the rest of the interview, and more, join The Good Book Appreciation Society.


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