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  1. #1

    -following danny home-

    First off, many thanks for directing precious few moments available in your day to provide insights to readers, writers and other inquiring minds about you and your creations.

    Your kind of real-now-busy includes:
    Academics/Curriculum
    Writing:
    Christmas Maze, just finished
    Catalina, being redone
    Renovation
    First trip to Europe
    Poetry

    "Time is so finite. I would still love to return to painting one day…not because I am good at it, I am not. But I love the act of painting. We all run out of time in the end. The trick is to balance that knowledge with the innocence of all the time in the world – aren’t our brains marvellous things?"


    bio here
    5 influential books here

    SECTION 1---on author experience and review
    SECTION 2---on personal timeline
    SECTION 3---on aboriginal dreamtime, everywhen, abiding
    SECTION 4---on mythology as asset to the poet and ritual
    SECTION 5---on writer experience, new works, interpretation(s)



    if life is like a multiverse rorschach, may your love of the act of painting continue to grace the world(s) of all with whom you share.
    many thanks for sharing with us.
    everyhere.
    evernow.

    interested in the works of dannyboy?
    you can find them here:
    The Woodcarver's Son
    The Tree Singer
    An Illustrated Children's Bible
    Catalina and the ship of dreams
    Last edited by -xXx-; April 1st, 2019 at 06:14 PM. Reason: no popdown permitted, link-5k link

  2. #2
    SECTION 1---on author experience and review

    then-now The Woodcarver's Son
    Originally approached by Robert (Baron) – who had been reading, critiquing my Pinocchio series of poems through writing forums. Robert encouraged me to do something with the idea. That ‘something” became the first novel published – Robert published The Unnerving, Unrelenting Life of Pinocchio through Lulu. The set of poems (it had grown to about 20 poems I think) became the story of a tree that dreamed of being a boy and the consequences of what happens when dreams come true. A little novel (around 55,000 words I think) that used the story of Pinocchio to explore the existential question of Who am I?

    While happy with the short novel (novella? When is a novel a novella?) I felt it wasn’t complete and over the course of a year or so, I rewrote the novel into the finished piece that became The Woodcarver’s Son. Robert again published the novel (through a side company he set up called Beatrice Press – I do not know if anything else was ever published under that name) and designed the cover etc.

    The Woodcarver’s Son opened a door for me and led to the publication of both The Tree Singer and Catalina (both through Dragonfall Press). Though after all these years I can see some of the faults of The Woodcarver’s Son it is still my favourite piece of writing and I will be forever grateful to Robert and to writing forums for the opportunity that came out of me posting a few poems about Pinocchio and watching the whole thing grow.


    The Tree Singer
    response to review snippet, Herlihy Sept. 2011
    "For Jacob, ashamed and alone, redemption is a painful path finally found in three distinct moments involving acceptance."

    response to review snippet, Headley Dec. 2011
    "His self-loathing makes him more and more monstrous, to the point where he makes a precious child suffer for the sin of his innocence and hope. Scenes of Jacob’s gratuitous cruelty to the boy, though the boy seems ultimately to be unharmed, are rather disturbing to read."


    If we think of the hero’s journey (three moments), the hero’s quest (in my head) is like a spiral slowly going up (or down) until the heart of the matter is confronted. In this case, Jacob confronts his own lost childhood, the lost hopes and dreams (and his anger from that loss), and in finding a way to let them go (finally) so he can move beyond the pain of failure and rejection – hence why the violence was not gratuitous at all but central. Finding the lost again.

    In The Tree Singer, the <violence> wasn’t gratuitous at all. The child in question was the son of the woman Jacob (main character) loved (and had lost through his actions). The <violence> was about Jacob having to push through to the other side. The way Jacob treated his ex-love’s son was cruel, but Jacob had to get to the point where he could see what he had become.

    I think gratuitous <violence> does not drive the story, does nothing but exist to shock. That is not what is happening between Jacob and the boy. It is central to the movement of Jacob, getting him to the point where he can finally move on again, he is stuck, stuck in a cabin living at the edge of life, doing nothing, after the episode with the boy, Jacob is able to move again, taking to the road, finding a new life, a new way of living – so nothing gratuitous at all. Cruel yes, it needed to be strong enough to shock Jacob out of his depressed state, his rut as it were, but not cruel just for the sake of it – at least I do not believe so.

    ...it’s part of the process that helps the writer uncover the characters, get to know them, get to let them find their way onto the light of the page...

    Reviews are difficult, really difficult. The snippet about gratuitous <cruelty> stunned me. Really stunned me because one thing I have tried to abide by is never to be gratuitous in anything that appears in my work, so to have that thrown at me hurt.

    In terms of processing reviews as critique: Accepting that negative words can shout louder than congratulatory words in a writer’s ears, negatives can insist on a writer’s focus. I had to learn (and poetry has been really instrumental in this process) to accept the negative words, look at what they were saying, decide whether to agree to them or not, and then make changes (or not). I learnt that in responding to them without ego, a writer may find the aide they can give, BUT it’s hard. It’s always hard, especially when first read as telling you your work is no good.

    Working in theatre, working on group productions where five or so of us wrote and performed the pieces helped deal with the need to accept criticism and make changes if they are needed. Drama taught me not to be precious about my words, see them as a vehicle, but still be true to them, and hold to them if you think they are right, just be prepared to let them go also. Everything on the table as it were, even those bits you as a writer adore – especially those bits…confusing…maybe but it’s the part of the craft I love, the honing part. Sometimes I think I could rewrite a sentence seventeen, eighteen times and still be able to change it. It's part of what I love about writing. The exploration of how to say and how to then say it differently, and it’s part of the process that helps the writer uncover the characters, get to know them, get to let them find their way onto the light of the page.

    My characters always surprise and delight me. I guess that is why I write. In my latest novel a minor character appeared who ended up being a juggler. That surprised and delighted me. And he became central to the story, appearing again and again, moving the main character forward at crucial moments – I love it when a character just appears and says, “sorry, but I am more important than you think!”

    The other side of the coin is to ignore the glowing reviews. They are great to read, but can be dangerous. Like the negative feedback, the good is a single person’s experience.

    Ego is a dangerous thing for a writer – ego lets us put our work out there. Ego can then prevent us from editing the work, from understanding what we need to let go of, from writing a better sentence, developing a stronger story-line and so on. An exception might be the desire to be better (ego driven?) that drives editing. It’s a tangle, which is one reason why writers can get blocked.

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    Last edited by -xXx-; April 1st, 2019 at 05:35 PM.

  3. #3
    SECTION 2---on personal timeline

    Stirring the pot of memories
    This time in my life was leading up to 25 years after the end of my training at Rusden, where writing, poetry, drama, acting all really started. This poem is remembering that time, through jasmine which adorned the walls of a shared house full of actors, writers, singers etc. A powerful time in my life. I began life as a Lit Major, ended up dedicating my life to acting/writing plays and then teaching drama – it’s how I have made a living…so unexpected…great memories. This poem attempts to celebrate that.

    Leading the bear home
    A conversation with Nietzsche
    These two are Pinocchio poems. The first is inspired the story of P. There is a caged bear in the original story that always made me sad, I like the idea that P. rescues the bear and leads it back home.
    The second poem came about through the idea of connecting the story of P. with existential philosophy. That thought led me to Nietzsche and to this poem. In fact P. is the perfect existential vehicle – it’s all about exploring who am I/where did I come from/what is my purpose?

    Draw no more
    Is based on a true event. Because I drew with gusto not skill…think Pollack not Leonardo, my colours always went far beyond the lines they were meant to stay within, and so I was sat next to Shawn McAuliffe. I never have felt comfortable drawing since that day – in fact, at school I grew to hate art. It should never have been, but teachers can forget how powerful their influence can be, how disastrous negative moments can be, how those moments may haunt us, how those moments may influence the choices we make.


    ...the perfect existential vehicle – it’s all about exploring who am I/where did I come from/what is my purpose?


    Soldier buried beneath the red sea:
    One of my journeys has been explorations of faith. Loss of faith, my mother would say. This poem is in response to that loss, or thinking about that loss and about why people have a faith in the first place.

    That which cannot be spoken
    This poem came from a series of poems I wrote loosely based around the Old Testament. When I was about six I was given a book, an old testament children’s bible full of pictures, that have stayed with me ever since. A picture of Solomon addressing the mothers, one pleading from the ground the other standing. Absalom, riding a horse, his hair tangled in a tree branch. Ruth holding a knife. John the Baptiste’s head on a silver platter. Brutal pictures I have never forgotten. The poems explored those pictures and my thoughts around those old stories and religion in general.

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    Last edited by -xXx-; April 1st, 2019 at 05:37 PM.

  4. #4
    SECTION 3---on aboriginal dreamtime, everywhen, abiding

    A few years ago I would have answered this type of question very differently. Dreamtime were the first myth stories I read (if you discount religious stories). They led me to Norse, which then led me to Greek and Roman and everywhere/everything else. Now that I have gained some insight and respect for the trials and dreams of some indigenous people I would say none of my stories capture dreamtime because it is outside my understanding, my culture and my language. So I will say that where I have used dreamtime influences, they have been as that innocent boy interpreting what he truly did not understand into things, images etc. he could understand. But those interpretations have nothing to do with the originals, nothing to do with Dreamtime, only with his dreaming – it’s a bit like the idea that a translated poem is a whole new poem because the translator must make decisions, choices etc. that always, no matter how subtly, change the original poems. Just the act of placing them into another language changes them.


    ...as that innocent boy interpreting what he truly did not understand into things, images etc. he could understand...


    From the Pinocchio collection of poems. The poem below might demonstrate, not Dreamtime, but that sense of abiding. An everywhen. A myth.

    dust to dust

    Coming from wood
    when he stood, still
    as air after a thunderstorm,
    his mind dripping - raindrops off leaf
    and branch - memory and thoughts,
    blue words falling from a mother’s disappointment
    so soft the little boy strains to hear
    and in the effort remembers the lesson.

    Coming from wood
    when he stood, feet,
    hidden in a darkness
    where air lives in pockets - forever trapped
    in the desire
    to remerge with each other. Toes
    set into the soil,
    roots that seep in dirt’s sea of earthly secrets
    to steal riches, carry
    them towards the light
    and offer them to the sun.

    Coming from wood
    when he stood, eyes
    closed so the world dissolved
    into scents and smells and the sunshine caressed
    and the damp earth nourished,
    he felt himself spread out large and thin -
    a bridesmaid’s veil tossed into the sky
    floating flimsy, folding
    back upon itself, in the air
    transparent and free.

    Eventually he must land
    but in those moments
    when he let himself go,
    for seconds or minutes,
    he felt his leaves
    and his wind-chime heart
    tinkled back at the world.

    By Danny Fahey


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    Last edited by -xXx-; April 1st, 2019 at 05:40 PM.

  5. #5
    SECTION 4---on mythology as asset to the poet and ritual

    If/when I give advice (and I am aware of the ego in that statement, especially given I have accomplished very little as a writer) or just have a chat to writers starting out – or to anyone thinking of moving into the creative arts – I always end up at some point in the discussion talking with them about mythology. I have already mentioned here, for example, the hero’s journey – that journey (journeys) is defined by myths, fairy-tales, nursery rhymes etc.

    Myths come from the psyche, come from all the things that make us human and no matter how far we think we have come, how we like to pretend evolution works in hundreds of years instead of millions, we are still the same as the women and men who built cities in Greece, who tilled land, travelled the grasslands, endured drought and flood, who killed the lion, the wolf, the deer and eel, who wove a basket for a child that drifted down a river to the lap of a pharaoh’s daughter, that roamed the earth as a god and watched their best friend die despite all that they tried to do. Myths tell us about ourselves, they are the realm of poetry, the realm of painting and music and dance and theatre. It is never about saying something new, it is about saying something differently and that difference reverberates with those myths or fairy tales so that the message enters deep into who we are, enters and touches us, sometimes touches us so well we never forget. Here is a poem that I have loved for some time now that uses the myth of Icarus.

    LANDSCAPE WITH THE FALL OF ICARUS, WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS(1883—1963)

    I think of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus, T.S. Elliott’s Wasteland, and so many more poems and paintings that draw on this ancient body of work, work that is as important today as it ever was.

    We are all on quests. We are all Hercules or Demeter or Media or Dionysus. We are all heroes that thrive or fail or strive upwards or downwards, who fly or fall, who weep or forestall…it’s the journey of life, the journey through all the different stages, moments, emotions and thoughts that make us who we are – human. A poet is trying to do the same thing and, for me, the myths are the musician’s musical notes, the painters pigments, use them, rework them, play them on different instruments, at different speeds, combine and separate them and see, just see, that happens.


    ...it is about saying something differently and that difference reverberates with those myths or fairy tales so that the message enters deep into who we are, enters and touches us, sometimes touches us so well we never forget...
    -----
    Ritual can be a shortcut to the emotions we try to keep in check. Ritual can say a million things quickly, can capture time passing and set the scene for what must change. Ritual is a tool to use...


    Ritual is very important to me. Drama (as stated, the discipline I trained at for many years) is imbued with ritual. It is one of the major tools for connecting to the audience. I remember a Jenny Kemp play based on the White Hotel by D.M. Thomas. The play started with this line of actors moving forward and back, a wave of bodies, drawing closer and closer to the audience. Forward and back. The ritual in that movement, and the way the play returned to that movement became hypnotic. It unlocked the emotions of the audience. It grabbed us and kept us involved throughout the piece. Ritual can be a shortcut to the emotions we try to keep in check. Ritual can say a million things quickly, can capture time passing and set the scene for what must change. Ritual is a tool to use. In poetry one ritual is the series of poems exploring an aspect of life. At the moment on working on a collection of poems called confessions – there is a ritual in the idea that each of the poems is a confession. Each is built on the moments of those that precede, predict the poems that are still to be read.

    Of course, in our day to day lives we set up countless rituals – rituals help us combat the plodding of time, allow us to ignore mortality and just get on with being. Ritual is both a blessing and a curse. If we are not careful too much becomes ritual and we lose the “in the moment” aspect of life that exhilarates us. We grow rigid and bored/boring. Too little and we are in the moment and unconnected to those around us. It is very difficult to live a life “in the moment” if you also want to be connected to society – often the person seeking such a life ends up a hermit or part of a very small community – and then the small community usually develops their own rituals anyway.

    Rituals also help me “get” into my writer’s skin. I put a certain piece of music on (at the moment it is The Lost Boys album Halfway Towards a Healing – I can remember years ago it was Avalon by Roxy Music), or I first wash the dishes, or make a coffee, little rituals that get me into “the zone”.

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    Last edited by -xXx-; April 1st, 2019 at 05:45 PM.

  6. #6
    SECTION 5---on writer experience, new works, interpretation(s)

    Catalina is being turned into a trilogy as we speak. It is growing into three novels each about 70,000 words long that tell the complete journey of Catalina. The interesting thing about Catalina is that the publisher liked my pre-story (about three chapters in the original story) when I submitted it and so I developed that and it’s the only part of the story that has ever been published. A bit like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was the only published story for many years when the original story was the later Go Set a Watchman. Or like Pinocchio (this is one of the bits of information that triggered the Pinocchio poem series). In the original, darker story, Pinocchio was hanged for his crimes but the publisher wanted that changed and so it became the children’s story – and then Disney changed it still further.

    And that makes me wonder how many stories published are not the stories the authors submitted for publication – how many stories have been changed because the publisher wanted to have a say, wanted their version of the story published? And so rather like a movie adapted from a book (think The Wizard of Oz) is an interpretation of the story, is almost a completely different story, and so the interpreted poem and so too, some novels, because of the publisher’s influence, did they become a different story?

    Back to reviews: We all need those five little stars because we are sold on the thought that those stars sell books, but do they? Really? Bookstores sell books. Big publishers spend big money decorating bookstores so they sell their books. When Catalina was published (YA just before Christmas), the publisher and I had hopes it would do okay. The big publishers basically take over the bookstores in Christmas. Catalina was plonked on a shelf away from the window displays, lost to the quick grab and run buys. My first publisher went under a few weeks later. They had banked on some Christmas sales.

    Reviews are difficult because you have to leave space for readers to make their own decisions, you cannot tell them everything. In leaving the gaps there is always room for misunderstanding or a different reading entirely. I remember a play I wrote a long, long time ago. It was examining the despair and fear associated with growing old. The director took the play and in her hands, it became about the breakdown in a relationship because of different life goals. Never understood how she got to that point from what I wrote but the play worked and so that’s what it became.


    ...it’s dragging that which is inside me out and onto the page. To do that I need to be true to myself and that means using the things that make me who I am...


    I am aware of being in the Southern Hemisphere when quite a lot of those reading my work are not. I am aware that my character’s views of the heavens/seasons etc. are fundamentally different from many readers (and must stress here I am not talking about many people). Sometimes if it is not important, I try to shape the vision to be almost anywhere, and sometimes I accept that they will scratch their heads and not really get the image. It happens a lot. In a recent poem, for example, I use the crown as an image for Heads – because on our Australian coins the head is the Queen’s head, with the crown on her head. Some missed that reference.

    In my latest novel – which I have just sent off to a publisher (fingers crossed and all that – after all I have seen the death of two publishers of my work…) centres around Christmas, the night sky and locations that are all Australian. Woven through that are northern traditions and experienced via television and movies by the central character. I think it’s an attempt to reach as many readers as possible yet still remaining true to the story being set in my childhood suburbs. At the heart of it all, a writer must be true to who they are, true to their work and their sensibility – if a writer chases the crowd what’s the point? Is it just about money? Fame?

    Not for me. For me, it’s dragging that which is inside me out and onto the page. To do that I need to be true to myself and that means using the things that make me who I am. I am Australian, I inhabit the southern hemisphere, I have never seen America – how then can I write for that crowd except in how I have seen it through books and films? A second-hand glimpse, a voyeur’s view… I hope people like what I write but in the end, more importantly, I have to like it. It has to say something I want to say…something about me, my life, my views on world…my fantasies or dreams…that’s what I think anyway.

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    Last edited by -xXx-; April 1st, 2019 at 05:47 PM.

  7. #7
    A fascinating and extensive interview, dannyboy! And our thanks to xXx- for taking the time and initiative to conduct it.
    And that makes me wonder
    how many stories published are not the stories the authors submitted for publication
    – how many stories have been changed because the publisher wanted to have a say, wanted their version of the story published? And so rather like a movie adapted from a book (think
    The Wizard of Oz) is an interpretation of the story, is almost a completely different story, and so the interpreted poem and so too, some novels, because of the publisher’s influence, did they become a different story?
    You raise some interesting points, especially: how many stories published are not the stories the authors submitted for publication ...








  8. #8
    Wow! PiP is right that is quite the interview! I knew you were awesome, danny (who could forget Dada's Seed?) but this is very, very impressive!

    Thank you to xXx for such a thorough interview and exploration of an interesting man and poet!
    There is no life I know
    To compare with pure imagination.
    Living there you’ll be free
    If you truly wish to be.~ Willy Wonka

  9. #9
    This is a fantastic interview -xXx- and Danny. Thank you both so much for giving me insight in your process of writing, your career, and much much more.

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