Our guest today is Suraya Dewing author of yesterday’s book Bend With The Wind, here is a link to the post if you missed it. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5JC
Where is your home town?
My home town is currently Auckland, New Zealand. However, I grew up in a remote part of New Zealand, Hokianga. The Hokianga shaped me. Auckland educated me.
How long have you been writing?
When I graduated from University I began a career as a trainee television director then went on to Public Relations. So, in that sense, I have been writing for 30 years. Like many creative writers I always wanted to write creatively but put that on hold because I needed certainty of income while we raised our family. In 2008 I returned to University and completed a Master of Creative Writing in 2009. I worked on ‘Bend with the Wind’ during 2009-10. Before that I had written short stories whenever I got the time (pretty average I must confess) and had a go at a novel which was awful.
What was the one idea which parked off Bend With The Wind?
The premise behind the novel is that a group might feel they have got away with an act of oppression. For a time the repercussions are hidden. However, resentment gathers momentum and eventually explodes. Usually an unrelated catalyst ignites the fire and violence becomes inevitable.
Where about in New Zealand did you set the settlement that Joe’s parents live?
Joe’s parents lived in a settlement called Parihaka which is in Taranaki, North Island of New Zealand. It is about ten miles out of New Plymouth.
Can you tell the readers a little about Colonel Messenger
Col. Messenger was a long serving member of the military in Taranaki and commanded an Armed Constabulary Post for a number of years. In 1871-72 he was in command of the unit that pursued Titokowaru, a Maori leader and a government opponent. After the campaign Colonel Messenger returned to the Armed Constabulary Post and a nearby mountain was named after him in recognition of the period he spent surveying the area and protecting the land. He led, along with Col. Bryce, the troops into Parihaka. He was well regarded by settlers but for Sophie, being related to anyone associated with the history of the occupation was an anathema. This explained her reaction when she finds his name on their family tree.
How did they stop the Maori people from returning to their lands?
When the militia occupied the area they posted guards and no-one was allowed to return. Later, some received passes. At the time of the occupation and arrest of Te Whiti and Tohu homes were plundered, livestock killed and crops destroyed. The women were raped. Anyone who tried to get back was threatened and chased off. The land was in the hands of the militia for five years.
What were the Black Power group all about?
The Black Power gang lives outside the law and is largely made up of marginalised Maori and Pacific Island men. They live off income from drugs and the proceeds of crime.
Tell us some of the things that Joe did for young people to help them.
Joe helped the young people get back to their roots and to regain a sense of self worth. Many people were disenfranchised by the loss of their land. They were also banned from speaking Maori at school and the only legitimate history was that of the English which bore no resemblance to the world they knew. Afraid their children would be disadvantaged later in life, many Maori parents wouldn’t allow the children to learn anything of their heritage including language. He would have taught them their language, te reo, carving, whaikorero (speech making), local history going back many centuries and carving.There was a commonly held belief that being familiar with Maori culture would not allow Maori to get ahead in the world. This was true. Any connection with their culture was frowned upon by Pakeha authorities and often Maori parents supported this stance. He would have given them back a sense of pride in their heritage by taking them back to Parihaka, to the elders to hear the unacknowledged stories belonging to them.
Tell us what you are working on at the moment.
My publisher has requested a book of short stories so I’m working on those. Once they are finished I will go back through Bend with the Wind before my publisher produces it in hard copy.
Tell us about The Story Mint and where readers can find out more about you.
The Story Mint is a service that aims to give writers an opportunity to develop their writing skills, to get to know other like-minded people and to grow their profiles by demonstrating their story telling skills. We provide ways for them to do that including writing chapters and starters for serials, putting writing up on the Writers’Pad and getting engaged in the forum. We also have an active Facebook page and Linked In group. I have created an online analysis tool called the Style Guide™ which analyses writing styles. The writer submits a piece of writing and is immediately given feedback on the style and how to change it if it doesn’t fit with the intended audience’s preferred style. For example someone writing a romance novel will not want to have his or her writing land in the section where business articles land. The Style Guide™ is currently being tested for training writers who are second language users.