Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Guest Post: Nerys Parry of Man and Other Natural Disasters

I have a very special author here with me today on the blog and I think you will really enjoy.  She is here to discuss what she wants readers to take away from her book Man and Other Natural Disasters.  I am excited to be able to share her with you and check back on the 31st for my review of her book!

Many thanks to Nurture Your Books Virtual Tourz for allowing me to feature this author!

About the Author:

Nerys Parry’s writing has aired on CBC radio and appeared in diverse publications. Her work has been shortlisted for the Kenneth R. Wilson Canadian Business Press Award, FreeFall’s Fall Fiction Contest, and the Event Non-Fiction Award. Man & Other Natural Disasters, finalist for the Colophon Prize, is her first novel. Parry holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from Queen’s and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from UBC. She lives in Ottawa with her husband, two children, one dog, two cats and her son's colony of ants. 

What do I want reader’s to take away from my book?

First and foremost, I hope they discover pleasure, joy, and delight in the language and story, and that at least one line sings for each and every reader.

I want readers to close the cover knowing at least one interesting thing about the world they didn’t know before, like where Calgary got its name, or how water has a memory, or that shrimp can die of a broken heart.  I want them to emerge from the fiction feeling Simon’s deep fascination with the amazing mystery of life.

I also hope Simon’s story will stir up in each reader a compassion for all children across the world over who have been indoctrinated, institutionalized, or raised in terror. While Simon’s is only one fictionalized account, it gives an insight into how violence breeds more violence, and how difficult it can be to escape that cycle. This message seems all the more important today in light of increasing militarism and ‘tough’ acts on crime.

On that note, while I confess I never set out to write a ‘political’ book, many readers who have been moved by Simon’s story have told me that one of the most important things they took from the novel was a fresh perspective on some of the “big issues” facing us in the world today. While it seems a grandiose thing to say, I do hope other readers discover this aspect as well. Without giving too much away, readers have mentioned how the historical portions of the novel gave them new perspective into the growing threat of religious extremism, the disregard of human rights in the name of the ‘war on terror’, and the ongoing, difficult battle of our age—how to define where freedom of religion ends and “criminal activity” begin. Most current examples of this conflict in the news include the statutory rape charges against the Sons of Latter Day Saints leader Jeff Warren in Texas, and the fight to keep polygamy illegal in Canada.

For me, this is the power of historical fiction; by looking deeply into our past we can gain insight into how we should (and maybe shouldn’t) react to threats. Remembering and understanding where we may have made mistakes, such as in enforced residential schooling, is the key to not repeating them.
But of all these things, both big and small, what do I wish most? That readers enjoy the book, and relish the read. 

About the Novel:

Simon Peters, a bookbinder full of theories on everything from heart-broken shrimp to the consciousness of DNA, is hiding from his horrific past in the basement of the Calgary City Library. Enter Minerva, a twenty-two-year-old student. Her ghostly resemblance to Simon’s dead sister compels him to reveal the shocking story of the various natural disasters that killed his family. But Simon’s story does not add up. When he finds Minerva bleeding on his bathroom floor, he must conquer the tyranny of his own memory and confront what really happened that summer of 1962. But the truth proves no less confounding, or tragic, than the original tale.

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