Another week, another fantastic Indie author interviewing on the blog. If you want to join in and interview with me, click here.
Michael D. Fay
Tell us a brief summary of your book’s plot.
‘The Boy Who Drew Soldiers’ is a coming of age tale set in the shadow of the Boer War and World War I.
The main character, Philip O.Giston, ‘orphaned’ by the death of his father, a London newspaper illustrator, in the Boer War and the subsequent disappearance of his German mother, is plucked from a relatively comfortable life in London to grow up in a mysterious Hertfordshire village bordering on Nomansland Common; Ferry Vale.
He struggles with staying true to his daemonic calling to be an artist in the home of his somewhat ambivalent paternal grandfather and his problematic housekeeper. A local gamekeeper, Mr. Mage, becomes his mentor. A great mystery surrounds the birth and death of his father, his parent’s marriage, the disappearance of his mother, and the relationship of Mr. Mage and the lady of the manor he game-keeps for, Lady Bawson.
Bawson Manor is famous for its ancient badger sett and a supposed mystical pond, a marl pit the badgers have chosen for their sett. Stories about his lineage, rumors of a horde of Roman gold, bad blood with the local farmers over the protected badger sett and strange doings around the Kingfisher Pond swirl around Philip as he struggles to carve an identity in a seemingly closed minded and very parochial rural setting.
Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, he lies about his age and enlists as a ‘boy soldier’ in the Artists Rifles, and finds himself from the very earliest days of 1914 in the maelstrom of WWI.
The story is deeply informed by the Hero’s Journey, personal memoirs of WWI, concepts around magic, deception, and camouflage, and generous ‘play-on-words.’ The arch of the narrative guides the young reader to an appreciation of life’s inexplicable mysteries, harsh realities and the power of art and empathy to have a deeply felt impact even in the midst of war.
What was the inspiration for this story?
This story has been inspired by my lifelong struggles with responding to my own ‘call to adventure’, to go to war and to do art.
Do you have any writing habits you would like to tell us about?
I do lots of research and allow that research to serendipitously lead me down previously unseen paths.
What is the hardest thing to manage when you start writing?
The hardest thing in writing is to get out of one’s own way, yet at the same time know what to edit out. Sometimes less is more.
Name the three books currently topping your To Be Read list?
‘Tarka the Otter’ by Henry Williamson
‘Undertones of War’ by Edmund Blunden
‘The Hero With a Thousand Faces’ by Joseph Campbell.
How important do you think a book’s cover is?
If you could collaborate with any author, who would you choose?
Chat to Michael on Twitter @MichaelDFay1.