Welcome! Thanks so much for agreeing to this short Q&A! What do you think makes a good story?
I like to learn from the books I read, so often books set in a period of history of interest to me are very satisfying. Likewise, a book that encompasses a skill (mountain climbing, bicycling, sailing, clock-making, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, spy-craft etc.) within its story line will definitely hold my attention. And I love books that expose us to different cultures. Beyond that, a book must have dramatic tension, some element of mystery or endeavor that keeps the reader guessing until the end. Finally, the prose and structure of the novel should captivate and draw me in.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
I was riding my bike down Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, approaching a bridge that spanned a rocky ravine 100 feet below me, doing 37 miles per hour when a passing RV created a gust of wind just as I was hitting a bump caused by the seam of the road and bridge deck, and a wind from the opposite direction was roaring up the ravine. Totally destabilized the bike and causing a front end shimmy that nearly threw me. My choices were to crash into the concrete, flip over the rail and fall to the rocks below, or stay upright on the bike. Definitely a touch and go situation.
What book are you reading now?
The Sport of Kings, by C.E. Morgan. I am in a book group whose members are all writers themselves. We choose highly acclaimed books, or those that we just love, and read them critically, analyzing the structure, the prose, dialogue, characterization and so forth as a means of learning from those who have gone before us and improving our own craft.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Going for a slow amble in the fields or forests with my dog relaxes me. I like to listen to the birds twitter and chirp, though I can rarely find them among the leaves and grasses. It’s enough to hear them and know that they are there.
Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?
Night! No doubt! My ideal schedule is to bed at midnight and up around 7-8. Or, okay, even 9 sometimes. I feel so refreshed when I adhere to that schedule and have lots of energy. When I get up early, I feel a film settling over my day, a soft and cottony smudge that lingers no matter what I am doing.
What would we find under your bed?
What makes you happy?
Beautiful scenery makes my soul soar. Whether the scene is a green valley, a granite peak, endless forests, a canyon or the ocean, a dose of Mother Nature can soothe me and bring me to tears of gratitude.
What is the next big thing?
I am working on my second novel, and just finished a trip to Montana to research my topic. The story explores the impacts on a frontier family whose lives become entwined with the Chinese immigrants who flooded the West in the 1800’s.
ABOUT THE BOOK
by Carol DeMent
A Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Saving Nary explores the losses, loyalties and secrets held within families broken by war and genocide. This compelling novel presents a palette of unique characters who struggle to make sense of the events that led them to America, even as they ponder the bewildering culture and lifestyle of their new homeland.
Refugee Khath Sophal lost everything when the Khmer Rouge swept into power in Cambodia: his livelihood gone, his family dead or missing; his sanity barely intact from the brutality he has been forced to witness.
Now resettled in the Pacific Northwest, Khath treads a narrow path between the horrors of his past and the uncertainties of the present. His nights are filled with twisted dreams of torture and death. By day he must guard constantly against the flashbacks triggered by the simple acts of daily living, made strange in a culture he does not understand.
Then Khath meets Nary, a mysterious and troubled Cambodian girl whose presence is both an aching reminder of the daughters he has lost, and living proof that his girls, too, could still be alive. Nary’s mother Phally, however, is another matter. A terrible suspicion grows in Khath’s mind that Phally is not who or what she claims to be. A split develops in the community between those who believe Phally and those who believe Khath. And those, it seems, who don’t really care who is right but just want to stir up trouble for their own personal gain.
Khath’s search for the truth leads him to the brink of the brutality he so despises in the Khmer Rouge. His struggle to wrest a confession from Phally ultimately forces him to face his own past and unravel the mystery of his missing daughters.
As the sun rose, Khath sat cross-legged in a lotus position in the small Buddhist temple nestled below Khao I Dang Mountain. The barbed wire perimeter fence separated the mountain from the refugee camp, but the mountain lent its power to the area nonetheless. Pra Chhay and two other monks chanted the Heart Sutra, a prayer of enlightenment, the rhythmic drone rising and falling in a soothing and familiar hum as the scent of incense hung heavily in the hot, humid air. About thirty refugees sat on the straw mats covering the wooden floor of the bamboo temple. The lips of many were moving as they softly chanted along with the monks.
Khath’s lips remained still, his heart empty. If asked, he would not disavow the teachings. He believed the teachings, yet the words of the Buddha had lost the power to move or to comfort him. He felt somehow distant from the teachings, as though they controlled behavior on a different world from the one he inhabited. It was a very lonely feeling.
The monks chanted on, a background hum that began to irritate Khath. He might as well be listening to the drone of mosquitoes as he toiled on the dikes under the watchful eyes of the Khmer Rouge, their guns aimed and ready, afraid to brush the insects away from his face lest he be beaten for not putting full attention into his work.
Observing the others in the temple, Khath envied them their faith. Pra Chhay often said there were two levels of Buddhism, one being the simple devotions taught to uneducated villagers; the other consisting of the higher practices and theories studied by the scholar monks.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Carol DeMent worked in the field of South East Asian refugee resettlement for seven years, and completed master's level research into international refugee resettlement policy. She lived for two years in Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer and has traveled extensively in South East Asia. Her first novel, Saving Nary, was a Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Carol DeMent will be awarding $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway