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My First Time...with Zelda Rhiando

Zelda Rhiando is an author, the winner of the Kidwell E-Book Award and the co-founder of The Brixton Book Her novel Fukushima Dreams is getting rave reviews and Zelda is joining us to read at our birthday event on Thursday May 10th...

Zelda Rhiando, The Riff Raff

Here's the blurb for Fukushima Dreams...

'Sachiko and her husband Harry live in a village on the North-east coast of Japan. They are both struggling to adapt to life as new parents to their infant son Tashi. In the aftermath of the tsunami, Sachiko wakes alone. Her family is missing.

She begins a desperate search until radiation fallout from the Fukushima power plant forces her to leave the area. She moves to Tokyo, and a different life. Harry has fled to a refuge on an isolated mountain, abandoning his family. He lives there, haunted by guilt and hovering on the edge of sanity. Will they find each other and confront the question of their missing son?'

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

Whilst watching live footage of the 2011 Tsunami. I’d already been thinking about a story where one of the main characters makes the decision to abandon their former life. And I wanted to tell the story of the survivors. There’s a general lack of awareness on the impact of the Tsunami on Fukushima, and on the wider environment – and I wanted to talk about that too.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your first book?

Always have a timeline – especially when basing a story on true events.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Gardening – I think subconscious creativity is key when writing imaginative fiction.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?

When my editor didn't get the ending of the book TWICE and wanted me to put spoilers in chapter one. I stuck to my guns and glad I did.

Best thing about writing your book?

Travelling around Japan to research it – it was an intense and often lonely month, but really wonderful to get a better insight into the character, way of life and influences.

And the worst?

The fear that people would hate it that struck at the exact moment the final proofs went off.

Go-to writing snacks?

I don't snack when writing. I do get through quite a lot of coffee though.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Imagining a situation or event, and then working backwards to try and understand how the characters reached that place. I think it's like doing a jigsaw – the story outline is the edge pieces, and then you have to fill the body in bit by bit. You know it's a good story when the missing pieces niggle you so much you HAVE to continue writing it.

The book that changed you?

I couldn't put my finger on a specific one, but certainly for Fukushima Dreams, the Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories, edited by Jay Rubin inspired me to learn more about Japanese culture and literature.

Your pump up song?

LTJ Bukem, 'Logical Progression'.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?

Umberto Eco.

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?

Keep your powder often only get one chance to impress, so make sure you're submitting your best work.


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