Interview with Rex Sumner

Describe your desk
Wherever I place the laptop....
At the moment I am sat at the dining room table, but the wonder of the laptop is that you can write in nature, which is always an inspiration. It helps the time to pass when travelling, as you can write on a plane, a train or sitting in a bar.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
The first six years of my life were on the island of Java. I spoke four languages - Javanese with the nanny who raised me, Indonesian with the people in the streets and shops, English with my parents and Dutch with other children of expatriates. This has, I hope, instilled in me the ability to see how different cultures react with each other, a theme I delight to explore in my writing. I particularly enjoy showing as normal a very Asian attitude, which completely befuddles the hero and hopefully many of the readers!
When did you first start writing?
In my early twenties. I made the mistake of showing it to my father, who disapproved of a character swearing, which rather put me off for many years. Then when travelling, I would entertain the children with stories I made up as we journeyed, involving them as characters. I remember one favourite story was the Lungfish, about two young fish in a mangrove swamp who escaped from a predator by jumping on land and working out how to breathe. The shark tried to follow them and died, so they ate it, which two young boys thought hysterical. They managed to evolve into lizards, I think, don't remember them becoming mammals.
Currently I started writing when one of my boys and I were complaining about so many of the characters in modern fantasy not acting like a person should, and I thought I could do better.
What's the story behind your latest book?
In Search of Spice, due out in November, is essentially based on the British conquest of India, but the characters got a bit waylaid on the way. As the characters developed, so did the story as they forced it in directions I had not envisioned. This has caused endless rewriting to make sure it hangs together properly.
I have also written a number of short stories, which have a number of purposes. They help to spread my name, but they also make me a better writer because short stories are an art form, making the writing tighter. They also are superb for developing characters - which makes another re-write of the novel necessary!
WIth my knowledge of SE Asia and its culture, it is such fun to introduce some of the more unusual bits and insert them into the narrative. I do hope it causes readers to stop and scratch their heads slightly! Virtually every single bit of culture described is from a society, somewhere, though sometimes altered slightly.
I've never seen the Melanesian form of surfing described, nor a comparison between it and Polynesian surfing. So I had to do that. The kava ceremony is pretty exact. The sexual content is historic, well most of it though one major part is fantasy - I won't tell you what, that would give it away! But the gold beads and the Chinese courtesans on trading ships are authentic. The Chinese didn't fight new cultures...
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a very wide variety of books, nearly all fiction. I used to be very much a SciFi fan, growing up on the likes of Heinlein, but I find less and less authors who interest me. Peter F Hamilton is one who definitely gets me going. Other than that I like fantasy, as long as there is a good, solid story and the science is believable. Historical fiction is always a pleasure and adventure stories are enjoyable.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have transferred my entire library onto my pc and read it on a Kindle paperwhite. I don't see the point of anything more complex, and the battery lasts forever. I am on my second one at the moment, the first having been replaced FOC.
What are you working on next?
I am still polishing In Search of Spice, but I am also writing The Making of Suzanne, which is absolutely fascinating. It details the early life of Susan Taylor, and how she became Suzanne Delarosa, the most beautiful woman in Harrhein and its most expensive courtesan. Writing about a little girl is easy, but a young woman is hard. Very, very hard. I have more respect now for the female writers writing about men! I am trying to show the loneliness of a beautiful woman, and how befriending somebody and opening their eyes to a different world can ruin their lives.
Originally I wanted to explore child abuse, but I have been told very firmly not to do so! My writing is for entertainment, apparently, and 'who wants to read about that'. I understand that, so although I do touch on the subject, it receives a very fast comeuppance.
To my surprise, I found myself writing about Elizabethan times and Suzanne going to work for a lady known as Mary Sidney, trying to become the first actress and being attacked by the churches as a harlot. Does Mary Sidney ring a bell? She is suggested as having been Shakespeare! So I am having a bit of fun and enjoying myself. Which is what authors should do, in my opinion.
Published 2014-08-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

A Tender Embrace
Series: Tales from Harrhein, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 11,750. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2014 by MyVoice Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Pat is fishing in the South Seas with his new girlfriend, and is unhappy when she wants to use him as bait. A story from the voyage of the Queen Rose, the first carrack to be built in Harrhein.
Wagon Master
Series: Tales from Harrhein, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 8,320. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2014 by MyVoice Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Chad is a wagon master and he thinks he is a coward. He still manages to deliver supplies to the frontline, rescue wounded, befriend the young Princess Asmara and inspire respect in his enemies. A story from Harrhein, set five hundred years ago in a fictional world, of a different sort of soldier.
Feeding the Dragon
Series: Tales from Harrhein, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 6,640. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2014 by MyVoice Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(5.00 from 5 reviews)
In the Ancient Kingdom of Sung, a little girl is selected to Feed the Dragon. While mothers hide their children from the monks, Wu Gui chose to find out if there really was a dragon in the monastery that ate little girls. A story from Harrhein, though a long way away.
Thief in the Night
Series: Tales from Harrhein, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 4,040. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2014 by MyVoice Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
(4.67 from 6 reviews)
Andy is an elite Harrhein soldier, a Lancepesade (medieval precursor to Lance Corporal) in the Royal Pathfinders. He's injured and recovering in a frontier fort, working in the armoury, when he realises he isn't alone. Something else is there, too small and quiet to be human.