MA: Today’s guest-blogger is Taryn Simpson, an award-winning novelist, Pulitzer Prize competitor, ghostwriter, screenwriter, and blogger. Additionally, Taryn has enjoyed success as a classically trained musician which began when she auditioned at the famed Julliard School in New York City at the age of 17 and performed with various symphony orchestras and famed musicians. Among her literary credits include competing for a Pulitzer Prize, winning a 2008 Indie Book Award, garnering attention from a Project Greenlight and being featured at the International Book Fair in Beijing, China and the Southern Festival of Books in 2002.
Welcome, Taryn. You have some impressive credentials! Tell us more about your interesting background and what brought you from music to writing.
TS: My first love was music, and I achieved a bit of success where I performed with various orchestras and artists such as The Tonight Show’s Doc Severinson. I was also accepted to the University of Texas at Arlington college level percussion camp at the age of 12, and was chosen to participate in a master class with famed marimbist Leigh Howard Stevens. I also auditioned at the Juilliard School in New York City at the age of 17. I hold a Bachelor of Music degree and I credit my musical creativity as a stepping stone to my writing career.
MA: One of my sons has chosen to study music education, so I can connect with you on that. Me? Tone deaf, I’m afraid. Do you see music and writing in the same creative way?
TS: I love using my imagination to paint a literary picture. I’m at my creative best when allowing my imagination to run wild with thoughts and ideas. I adore fiction.
TS: Imagine owning a restaurant near the jungles of Thailand that sits upon the most legendary mystical road in the world. Legend states that whoever walks upon Loi Kroh Road will be forever changed or shall never be seen or heard from again. In fact, the English translation of “Loi Kroh Road” is “Wash Your Bad Luck Away”. Larry, the main character, is seductively lured to this world-famous street to purchase this business. The restaurant serves as a place where he observes world travelers such as himself as well as locals who discover their fate upon this historic road. He is on a journey to discover his mission in life as he is guided by a ghostly figure that appeared to him as a child. On his adventures, he comes face to face with his greatest fear, his lingering questions of mortality and his soul’s lonely reflection.
TS: I think making a character become three dimensional requires stepping into his shoes and feeling the various emotions that he might be feeling. I would say it requires a bit of acting talent actually. It’s a matter of observing the minutest of reactions to painting a mental picture of physical characteristics and personality. You want the reader to be able to describe and know this character as if he or she is real.
MA: Tell us more about Larry.
TS: He isn’t afraid to venture from his father’s farm which is all he has ever known. He doesn’t stray across town, but to another country with different customs and language. He also feels comfortable in his own skin until he reaches Loi Kroh Road. He has a keen understanding of the people around him such as his parents and doesn’t judge them. That is rare these days.
But he can’t let go of the demons from Loi Kroh Road. He meets the love of his life, Noo and when their relationship ends, he can’t face the reality that she is gone and allows it to destroy him.
MA: I understand that none of your real-life experiences influenced the writing of The Mango Tree Café, Loi Kroh Road, but that’s not true for Alan Solomon, your co-author. Talk about that.
TS: Alan really did own The Mango Tree Café in Chiang Mai and it was very popular with expats and locals alike. There were also some of the patrons of the bar that we mention in the book, but they were embellished.
MA: What’s in your writing future?
TS: I’m currently working on a book, entitled, Musings from a Writer which contains my thoughts about current events, politics, pet peeves and other issues. I have a blog with the same name and have encapsulated the better posts for the book. I’m also working on a novel entitled, The Long Road to Extradition. Meet Nicholas, a precocious yet sensitive teenager who is also the black sheep of his family. He witnesses a horrific act that tears his family apart and sets his journey in motion. From the time he is 13 years old, he makes his way through the foster system until one day he escapes his life of misery. Through his journey, he meets unforgettable characters along the way who make lasting impressions upon Nicholas which prod him to delve into his bruised emotional issues to make peace with himself. His extensive travels prove that his problems will always be a cumbersome and a heavy burden that will sit upon his shoulders until he has his day of reckoning with his emotional baggage. “The scars you can’t see are the hardest to heal,” something Astrid Alauda once said, proves to be painfully truthful. Nicholas’s journey is a long one, but his travels to made amends is even longer. It is through his journey that he discovers The Long Road to Extradition.
And, last but not least, I’m collaborating with a children’s author named Nancy Mura on a book entitled, The Butterfly Table. I’ve never written children’s books and wanted to write one based on a butterfly table antique that was passed down to me from my beloved grandfather.
MA: I can’t let you go without talking about your collaboration with Alan Solomon on The Mango Tree Café, Loi Kroh Road. My readers will find the nature of that partnership fascinating.
TS: Alan Solomon and I have never met face to face, nor talked on the phone. All of our collaboration was done via email and instant messaging. We took an immediate liking to each other the moment we began discussing the book. I remember at the beginning, Alan told me he was “ridiculously easy to work with,” and he was right. It’s as if we’re seated next to each other discussing the plot. People can’t believe it when they read the book. Mango Tree was a pivotal book for me and has shaped how I plan to write future novels.
MA: Thanks very much for stopping by and visiting the Child Finder Trilogy. Folks, visit Taryn’s website for more about her and The Mango Tree Café, Loi Kroh Road novel: www.Solomon-Simpson.blogspot.com