Friday, February 9, 2018

Interview with novelist David W. Thompson

Novelist David W. Thompson joins me today and we’re chatting about his new historical fiction that contains fantasy/magical realism elements, Sister Witch, The Life of Moll Dyer.

The author is a native of Southern Maryland, and a graduate of University of Maryland, University College. Prior to retirement from a position with a major Aerospace Corporation, he tried his hand at a variety of occupations- from grocery store clerk to warehousing, from shoveling coal to a four year stint with the U.S. Army. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys time with his family and grandchildren, kayaking (mostly flat water please), fishing, hiking, hunting, wine-making, and pursuing his other “creative passion”- woodcarving.

After his family and cheesecake, reading was his first love. It exposed him to people, cultures and ideas he’d never experience otherwise. Writing was a natural extension of this “out of body” experience as characters carved little niches in his mind- showing their worlds, and their possibilities. He hopes to honestly convey the stories they whisper in his ears.

Welcome, David. Please tell us about your current release.
Sister Witch is inspired by the life of an accused colonial witch—Moll Dyer. She is one of the oldest colonial legends and even 300 years after her death, her name is still whispered in the dark of the night or to warn misbehaving little people. There is a road named after her, and a small creek near her old homestead bears her name. The sandstone boulder that marked the spot of her death was removed from the river bank and is displayed outside of the courthouse.

Every family seems to have a version of the Moll Dyer story, but there’s minimal historical record to support any of them due to a courthouse fire. To flesh out Moll’s story, I’ve gathered the oral traditions associated with her and combined them in her historical setting, then added a twist of magical realism. I think Moll would approve.

What inspired you to write this book?
Moll Dyer’s story was always close to my heart—since first hearing of her while a young lad listening to my elders spin tales around campfires. The tragedy this woman endured, the injustices she suffered, in a colony founded on tolerance was inexcusable. If that wasn’t bad enough, even her name was denigrated throughout history. If I couldn’t go back in time to alleviate her pain, perhaps I could at least remove the stigma attached to her name.

Excerpt from Sister Witch, The Life of Moll Dyer:
My name is Mary Dyer, or Moll to my family and friends. If you are either, you are among the few. It is for my child’s sake alone that I press my quill to paper. I am not proficient in the keeping of secrets, unlike my family, and as my disgrace is the foundation of my woes, I shall confess all for the integrity of my account. My child will know I was truthful in all things, save one.
For five generations, our family called Kinsale in County Cork, Ireland home. Kinsale is a sleepy little fishing village on the River Bandon. For the years I lived there, it was a safe, quiet, familiar place. The men fished the channel, built fishing vessels and farmed the land.
The womenfolk cared for their families, prepared meals, mended clothes, and of course kept the ever present peat fires burning. Mother loved the smell of a peat fire, like leaves burning in the autumn of the year she said. I found the scent to be sticky sweet like rotten apples.
I am ashamed to say I learned of our plight while eavesdropping on my parents after the bantlings were abed, and my breath caught in my chest!
“The work here is gone, Cathleen, and our savings are all but spent. There’s money to be made on the Isle of Wight, ship building and working the docks. There’s nothing holding us here now.”
“Are we starting this again, Killian? This is our home! Are you not happy here?” Mother asked.
“Happy? I’m as happy as a pig in shit living on scraps! It is my duty as a man to provide for my family! I won’t be depending on any man’s charity! Every day, there’s more and more debt we cannot pay. Indeed, I’m so happy I could dance!” I heard the patter of his shoes dancing to an imaginary tune, and stifled a giggle.
“You needn’t curse, or play the fool. There is no lack of food for our table, and the peat fires keep us warm at night.” Mother said.
“That’s not enough, Cathleen! The Dyers thrived here before the Battle of Kinsale. I swore to my father I’d reclaim our family’s glory. It’s what you deserve, what our children deserve.”
“I know the story, we’ve all heard it often enough, but you, of all people? You would raise our family among them? You think anything good waits for us among the English?” Mother asked.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m waiting to get back the first edits for Book 2 in the Dyer family series (His Father’s Blood), and I started on Book 3 - which will bring the family into the 21st century. Moll Dyer proved to be quite a popular character and I’m considering a prequel to her story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think tomorrow…maybe? Seems like it’s something I’ve worked toward for a long time. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and what is a writer, but a reader on steroids? My sweet mother said I started reading about the time I started walking, but I’m not sure if I started reading really early or walking really late. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t playing with words and twisting imaginary character’s fates.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I am retired from a major aerospace company, but my days of full time anything are blissfully behind me! I love my family, the outdoors, wood-carving, wine making, and kayaking.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Just one? Geez, you’re a tough interviewer. Probably how I relate to my characters - yeah “relate” with those figments of my imagination. LOL-my dreams are often inundated with their questions while they properly berate me for something they wouldn’t have said or done.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A wonderful husband and father…no seriously! I guess I didn’t get the first one right- at least the first couple of times, but hopefully did this go round! If being a good father can be measured by how my young’uns turned out, then I did damn well with that one. As far as “gainful employment,” I occasionally wanted to be Davey Crockett, or a fireman, maybe a musician (even though tone deaf), but I always wanted to write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you get a chance to pick up Sister Witch, Moll and I hope you enjoy her tale. Thank you for your support, and thank you, Lisa, for this opportunity!


Thanks for stopping by today, David. It's been a pleasure!

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