Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Darren Groth, author of the amazing YA novel ‘Are You Seeing Me.’ ‘Are You Seeing Me’ is one of my favourite contemporary novels, if you haven’t read it yet, you really should.
Here’s a little bit about it:
Publisher: Random House Australia.
Release Date: August 1st 2014.
This road trip will have earth-shattering consequences . . .
Twins Justine and Perry are about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s been a year since they watched their dad lose his battle with cancer. Now, at only nineteen, Justine is the sole carer for her disabled brother. But with Perry having been accepted into an assisted-living residence, their reliance on each other is set to shift. Before they go their separate ways, they’re seeking to create the perfect memory.
For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of his favourite things: mythical sea monsters, Jackie Chan movies and the study of earthquakes.
For Justine, it’s a chance to reconcile the decision to ‘free’ her twin, to see who she is without her boyfriend, Marc – and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.
But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble . . .
‘A funny and beautiful story about love, life and other disasters, told with the help of Robinson Crusoe and Jackie Chan. I think what we’re “seeing” here is a writer at the top of his game. Just wonderful.’ MICHAEL GERARD BAUER, author of The Running Man.
You can check out my 5 star review HERE.
NOW LET’S JUMP INTO THE INTERVIEW:
Would you share a little about the inspiration behind ‘Are You Seeing Me?’?
In large part, the inspiration was my daughter. I have thirteen year old twins; son with special needs and daughter a regular able kid. I wanted to explore growing up with a disabled sibling, the unique challenges it entails. Additionally, the broader themes of loss, difference, acceptance, responsibility, humour – these tend to have prominence in my work.
With a strong call for diversity in YA books recently, Perry is a character readers have been waiting for, can you tell us a bit about why such characters are important to you?
Groups outside the mainstream have been a big part of my life, both personally and professionally. I ‘ve learned many a life lesson from them, and from a writing perspective their stories have been irresistible to me. I know they can be irresistible to young adult readers as well, but as has been recently documented, too few of them are on the shelves. That makes a protagonist like Perry very important and puts the onus on me to do justice to him as his author.
Travel is a large part of Are You Seeing Me? what would be your dream destination?
I’d love to see Nepal. As a boy of the Queensland beaches, I’d never seen a real mountain until I moved to Canada. Witnessing the biggest peaks on the planet, laying eyes on the rooftop of the world – that would be cool.
In Are You Seeing Me?, Perry is on the hunt for the mythological sea creature the Ogopogo. Have you personally gone hunting for the Ogopogo or other mythical creatures?
I haven’t ever gone hunting for Ogopogo, but I’ve visited Okanagan Lake a few times and I ALWAYS keep one eye on the water in case he makes an appearance :).
Jackie Chan is a favourite of Perry’s. I don’t mind Jackie Chan movies myself. My favourites would have to be Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour. How about you? Do you have a favourite?
I’m certainly not as enamoured as Perry – he might be the biggest Jackie Chan fan on the planet! My favourites would be Drunken Master II and Rumble in the Bronx.
Which character did you find the most challenging to write, and which character do you relate most to?
Justine was the most challenging character – it took a fair bit of effort to find and keep her voice true. Perhaps not surprisingly, I related to Dad Dan strongly; it might be a shock to the readers out there: I also had quite a bit of sympathy for Mum Leonie. No question she made a massive mistake, but she tries to make good the best she can. For me, that deserves a little forgiveness.
Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us a bit about it?
A novella I wrote with my brother, Simon, is currently up for publisher consideration – it’s a magic realism story of a love triangle involving a boy, a girl and the ocean. I’m excited to see what this “fair-real-tale” might do. Solo-wise, I’m working on a couple of new YA novels that I hope, like Are You Seeing Me?, bring something a little different to the genre.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Believe it or not, in the shower! Whenever I run into a roadblock in the story, quite often I find a detour under some nice hot running water. If I could take the laptop in there, I would :).
When is your favourite time to write?
My favourite time to write is any time I can find. I’ve learned that when opportunities arise, I can’t be fussy about time or place – I just need to get into it. Waiting for the muse doesn’t put many words on the page.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Finish what you start, find a mentor, welcome constructive criticism, and wish with patience.***Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Darren. It was a pleasure to have you on my blog today.***
About The Author:
Darren is a Vancouver author and new citizen of Canada, having moved from his native Australia in 2007. His work has been published on both sides of the Pacific and has garnered significant acclaim from literary critics, writing peers and a growing readership. His novel, ‘Kindling’, was produced for North America in 2013 by prominent indie, Exciting Press; previously the paperback was sold to Hachette in 2010 and released in Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan. His 2014 work, ‘Are You Seeing Me?’, published by Random House Australia, is now available.
For fun, he watches ’Game of Thrones’ with his beautiful Canadian wife and swims with his wondrous thirteen year old twins.
Check out his website here.