Monday, November 25, 2019

New interview with writer Dave Tomlinson

Writer Dave Tomlinson is back in the hot seat. Today he’s chatting with me about his non-fiction sport’s book, Days of Miracle and Wonder.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Dave. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Dave Tomlinson. I’m from New Zealand and now living in Brisbane, Australia. My life passions are travel, outdoor adventure, sport and writing. After writing the budget travel guide Travel Unravelled I then documented my travel stories in Around the World in 80 Tales (my interview on this blog about this book is here). I blog about my travel and assist other travellers on my Step Ahead Travel website. It’s my dream to eventually travel 100 countries and go to every continent on the planet.

My first sports book Days of Miracle and Wonder describes 25 of the most incredible sporting victories brought about by amazing comebacks and painful chokes. This was followed by ‘Unlevel Playing Fields’ which tells the dramatic stories behind 25 of the greatest sporting controversies. The latest publication in this fascinating series ‘Excellence in Motion’ relates the courage, respect and sacrifice displayed in 25 of the finest acts of sportsmanship.

Please tell us a little more about your newest release.
The thrill of victory, agony of defeat and human drama of competition are the fundamental allure of sport. Its glorious unpredictability is truly captivating and nothing captures our imagination more than a contest which suddenly comes alive after the result appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Whether it's the anguish of a choke or the brilliance of a comeback, Days of Miracle and Wonder captures these moments and tells the unique stories behind 25 of the most incredible sporting victories.

What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for writing this book came from Steven Bradbury's gold medal in short track speed skating at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. His astonishing story resonated with me because it captures the glorious unpredictability of sport. I love an exciting comeback or underdog victory as much as anyone! And as I pondered Bradbury’s remarkable achievement, I began to think about other implausible victories across the sporting spectrum.

My mind flashed back to watching Jana Novotna lose the 1993 Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf. Six years later, I will never forget the dark shadow cast across New Zealand when the All Blacks lost their World Cup semi-final to the unfancied French side. The same year, South Africa snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Australia in the 1999 cricket World Cup semi-final. In yet another heartbreaking disappointment, the Kiwis lost the 2013 America's Cup to Team USA after being on the brink of victory, time and again.

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé once said "The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning." The glory of winning and the ignominy of losing against the odds have given us many unforgettable sporting moments. Over the years we’ve seen courage and brilliance, but also honest displays of human frailties. It’s my hope that I’ve captured the passion and emotion of each occasion rather than just the results.

What’s the next writing project?
After completing Unlevel Playing Fields and Excellence in Motion, I watched in admiration as Tiger Woods came back from the depth of personal transgressions and crippling injury to win the 2018 Tour Championship and then the Masters in 2019. Making a career comeback in sport is one of the most difficult things to do with dignity and there is every chance of failure. It became the inspiration for the fourth book in my sporting series.

Legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi is widely recognised as one of the greatest leaders in the history of sport. Among his many famous quotes, he once said: "The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it." He knew what it meant to make a comeback and captured in those words the triumph that sportspeople experience when they've done it successfully. And he had given me my book title.

The Real Glory celebrates the sportspeople who have shown exceptional courage and dedication. They went beyond what was expected of them in a triumph of the human spirit. Nothing is assured in the cut and thrust of professional sport, but to those who are prepared to take the risk, the reward is a unique glory. Sporting legends are not hammered into shape on the anvil of results alone; they come from the way those results were achieved, including the sacrifices made just to be in the contest.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
One of the biggest challenges in writing my books is structuring each chapter. It’s a challenge that I enjoy because I want to tell the story in the best possible way. I want to strike a balance between providing readers with relevant facts and an interesting narrative. This often involves beginning at a certain point, going back in time and then coming forward in time to complete the loop. I also find the final paragraph or two a good challenge. I don’t like to finish anything abruptly and leave an unpolished surface. I think concluding something well is an important aspect of any writing.

If your books require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Good question. I tend to do most of my research before I begin writing. By doing that, it helps me plan how I’ll write the chapter. I have a Word document called ‘Notes’ which is like a scribble pad. It enables me to jot down important points and ‘landmarks’ that I need to pass. I often find however, that as I get into my writing, further research is required. I’ve spent many hours using Google to find relevant websites from which to extract the information I need. More notes are added until the gaps are sufficiently filled and I can complete what I’m doing.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I find the atmosphere at the public library the most conducive to good writing. It’s a relaxed space with good lighting and being surrounded by other people working, reading and studying is an incentive for me to concentrate well. I’ve done some writing at home but I tend to get distracted more easily. Wherever I am though, I find coffee always helps with creativity and focus!

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I enjoy reading sporting biographies and my favourite fiction authors are Dan Brown, Lee Child and J.D. Robb.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
A book is a gift you can open again and again. Enjoy your reading!

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!


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