Interview with John Smythe

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating, recreating and sharing experience. By imaging real or fictitious experiences and empathising with the people involved, I explore and discover myself. And by sharing the result with readers, I hope they may do the same. Empathy is a great gift and I actually believe the survival of humanity depends upon it.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Refreshing and extending my experience of being human.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am an avid theatre-goer (being a reviewer); my partner (Liz) and I love going to movies too. There are my primary means of 'consuming' fiction - and of course I love reading too, We enjoy good food and company, be it with each other, our families or friends. There are many beautiful places to visit in New Zealand and sometimes we are fortunate enough to travel elsewhere too. The more I explore different places and engage with different people, the more I realise how much we all have in common.
Describe your desk
A mess - but my computer files are very well organised.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in outer-suburban Wellington, New Zealand, when we - and most of our neighbours - had half an acre, a garage, a greenhouse, a vegie garden, a small orchard, a lawn, a creek, stands of trees ... We were cubs, scouts, played sports, belonged to theatre groups and had the run of the community. You might call us an average middle-class family; some would say 'white privilege'. I have gone through guilt about that - as well as for being male and heterosexual. I have felt disadvantaged by having had a happy childhood, given how many great artists have risen from struggle, hardship and even trauma. But it's a 'hiding to nothing' to beat yourself up about such things. Besides, while I use what I know in my writing, discovering what I don't already know is much more interesting.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Back in the 1980s I became concerned that all the stories coming out in books and on screen about the impending nuclear holocaust made it seem inevitable: were we in danger of making it a self-fulfilling prophecy? It made me contemplate the possibility of their diametric opposite - but who wants to read a story about good people behaving well? Where would the dramatic conflict be in a book about peace? Then I read an article in a Simply Living magazine about cetaceans (whales and dolphins). It included a few pars about 'Opo the friendly dolphin' who won the hearts of New Zealander far and wide in the summer of 1955/56 - and I realised this was the story that proved we were just as capable of declaring peace as war; of achieving the peace and harmony we all say we all want all the time. Not that it lasted. They question is why? What is it about humanity that makes us incapable of sustaining peace? That's what OPO: The Peace Monster investigates. It's a 'second coming' story, if your like.
Published 2016-06-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

OPO The Peace Monster
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 88,920. Language: English (New Zealand dialect). Published: June 6, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Australia & New Zealand
What if 'Jaws' had been a dolphin? A remote post-war New Zealand community is invaded by a lone dolphin who becomes a huge tourist attraction. Fearless, totally trusting, Opo causes a massive outbreak of harmony. For some she promises economic profit, for others she is a prophet of peace and a few feel threatened … When Opo is killed the locals conspire to cover it up. But her legacy lives on.