Interview with Ray Johnston

People are asking about your new book. What's it about?
It's a story about conflict and the search for love that takes us into the hearts of three people each pursuing a dream: Justin, a jaded, obsessive historian; Ruth, a rich girl on vacation and Miriam, a poor girl on the run. They meet on a tropical island where a shadowy special forces officer known as the Coastwatcher served during the war, and as the truth about him emerges they become enmeshed in a love triangle like no other. When disaster turns their dreams to ashes, Ruth and Miriam refuse to give up hope and through them Justin finds the path to redemption.

This story poses questions: Is a new start too much to hope for? What is redemption, and who needs it? Is there such a thing as destiny? Why are we here and what are we doing that counts? And how can we find a way through the uncharted delta marked in its corners with the words friendship, love and passion?

I've included a short summary of the story in response to the fourth question.
What motivated you to become an author?
I believe I have something to say. I entertain my readers with old fashioned story-telling and colorful characters and invite them to walk a pathway of laughter, suspense and tears that leads them to places where deep themes of life such as abandonment, betrayal and redemption are encountered. My first book "Black Ghosts White Shadows" addresses the human psyche in the shadow of death. Who can you trust? Who do you follow? The second book "The Rich Girl, the poor Girl, the Coastwatcher and me" challenges the reader to decide whether a new life is too much to hope for when dreams turn to ashes.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I get a buzz when I can clearly express in words an elusive idea elemental to life and create a context wherein readers will smile, or weep, or hold their breath, or cry out in frustration, or simply look around them or look up, in awe and wonder.
What's the short version of your new book The Rich Girl, the Poor Girl, the Coastwatcher and me?
Justin Bornmann, a jaded amateur historian obsessed with recording the wartime exploits of an almost forgotten Special Forces officer - a shadowy war hero known as The Coastwatcher - travels to New Britain, the tropical island where the man served and meets Ruth Feingold, a glamorous young stockbroker thirty years his junior who's there on vacation . At first she keeps him at arm’s length, but when tragedy draws them together they begin a journey together through disaster, disfigurement and conflict, which they survive with the help of Miriam Lazar, an elegant old lady who was once a refugee on the island, and an assortment of unique individuals, each with the fortunate knack of turning up when needed.
What are you working on next?
I'm thinking of a story with links to the Armenian genocide and the ill-fated Gallipolli campaign in the Dardanelles a century ago.
Who are your favorite authors?
Anyone who writes with both feeling and depth. Tim Winton and John Irving spring to mind. There are too many to name. I'm easy to please if the mix of skill and authenticity hits the sweet spot.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The feeling of air going into my lungs, so it's important to me to have space, light, windows, freedom and family. In cold weather I don't want to be too warm when I wake up. Just right will do me. Then it's breathing, praise to my creator, a splash of water on my face and out for a coffee and a forty minute walk most days.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I serve an NGO in Papua New Guinea as an honorary consultant in program design and implementation, translation and dictionary-making. I'm also a house-husband - tough work! And I do volunteer work with faith-based organizations
What is your writing process?
Draft early and badly and quickly and use cheap paper. Then revise until I go nuts. Leave it for a few months. Then revise again until I go nuts again. When I'm sick of the story and start to think of the characters as real, I reckon it's ready. Somewhere in there there's a manuscript evaluator.
What are some of your favorite books, and why?
The Bible takes me on an emotional roller coaster ride through the grand themes of the human experience. Other favorites: The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan. Fives and Twenty-fives, by Michael Pitre. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, all of them remarkable achievements in concept, style and form. In terms of inspiration during my formative years, Catch-22 says it all about systems: The stated issue is not the real issue. I've looked at things that way ever since. Another book I read at an impressionable age is For whom the bell tolls, by Ernest Hemmingway: top of the heap for emotional impact and authenticity. Reading books that tell amazing, inspirational, beguiling, challenging stories such as The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder and Cloud Street by Tim Winton made me want to write.
Published 2015-05-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Rich Girl,The Poor Girl, The Coastwatcher And Me: Anecdotes And Reminiscences From The Collected Papers Of Justin Bornmann
Price: Free! Words: 60,890. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Australia & New Zealand, Fiction » Inspirational
On a tropical island, the truth about a shadowy war hero called The Coastwatcher connects Ruth Feingold, a career girl on vacation and Miriam Lazar, a poor girl on the run, with jaded historian Justin Bornmann in a love triangle like no other. The women set the disillusioned man on the path to redemption and prove that although love is a battle zone, it need not be a war