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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Authors To Watch: Michael Robert Dyet, Author of 'Hunting Muskie'




Michael Robert Dyet is the Metaphor Guy. Novelist, short story writer, closet philosopher, chronicler of life’s mysteries – all through the lens of metaphor. He is the author of Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet, Blue Denim Press, October 2017.

Michael is also the author of Until The Deep Water Stills: An Internet-Enhanced Novel – traditional print novel (self-published) with a unique and ground-breaking online companion featuring text, imagery and audio recordings. This novel was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Michael posts weekly in his blog: Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm

Metaphors of Life Journal Blog: www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog2
Novel Online Companion: www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



Life becomes a search to find our way back home after unexpected storms knock us off course. This collection of 16 stories reflects that deep urge to return to where we feel at peace. The journey back becomes a rite of passage.

The title story, “Hunting Muskie”, sets the tone – the hunt to find and subdue an unseen foe. Each of
the other stories elaborates on this theme.

Hunter is haunted by the mistake that defined his life. A chance encounter sets Edward on a search for answers. An act of bullying committed decades ago brings a day of reckoning for Quentin. Will must pay the ransom of conscience. A shocking event causes Laurel to fall victim to a temptation she cannot rationalize. Huck shuts out the loss he cannot face until he can deny it no longer. Malcolm seeks atonement for a desperate act committed in the name of love.

The longer piece, Slipstream, ties together the connecting threads: the powerful forces that derail us, how we are driven to search for answers and the harsh truth that redemption often comes at a price.

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We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

From an early age, words began to spin in my mind in search for that sudden light of insight and clarity. It has always been my desire to make sense of life through the creative exploration of language and story-telling. I am convinced that writing is encoded into the spiral helix of my DNA.

My earliest recollection of catching the bug was in grade six in elementary school. At that time, Composition was a regular assignment and my favourite exercise. One of the suggested subjects was The Autobiography of a Dollar Bill. I embraced the idea and wove a complex, humorous tale of all the hands that a dollar bill passed through including a bank robbery. My composition was enthusiastically received and I was hooked on writing from that day forward.

Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood was once asked in an interview: What made you decide to become a writer? Her answer was ironic but revealing: A big thumb came down from the sky, pointed at me and said You.

Aside from expressing that she was tired of answering the question, I believe Atwood meant that one never really decides to become a writer. At some point, you realize that for better or worse you are one. It is something you simply must do to be psychologically and emotionally healthy. This has been my experience and my writing is informed by it.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
The process actually starts at a subconscious level. I recognize potential for story ideas in real-life events and incidents. These experiences have to be absorbed into the deeper recesses of my brain to be processed and shaped by unconscious thought.

It is much like the process that forms a pearl. The experience is shaped and polished by subconscious pondering. Sometime later, months or even years down the line when the time is right, it remerges as a precious gem I can build a narrative around.

I always start by constructing a loose outline for the story. I need to see the arc of the storyline from start to finish even though I know it will evolve as I go. Once I have the outline, I push as quickly as possible through the first, very rough draft. This is the grunt work. It is a grind, but I have to go through it.

What follows is a series of revisions where I flesh out the narrative and the characters and refine the metaphors. (Metaphors are central to my writing.)  The plot can change a little or a lot during this process. I am working toward a vision which becomes gradually clearer as I go along.

The final step in the process is a series of what I think of as “polishing revisions”. Nips and tucks, fiddling with the narrative voice and sharpening the focus – AKA polishing the pearl. This is my favourite part of the process. I often do five or six of these polish revisions before I am satisfied.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage is a literary fiction short story collection. The common thread in the 16 stories is the search and the struggle to find our way back home after the unexpected storms of life knock us off course. Each story reflects that deep urge to return to where we feel at peace. The title story, Hunting Muskie, sets the tone – the hunt to find and subdue an unseen foe.

The collection opens with a novella length piece, Slipstream, which was written at the request of my publisher as an anchor story for the collection. It ties together the connecting threads – the powerful forces that derail us, how we are driven to search for answers and the harsh truth that redemption often comes at a price. The stores that follow elaborate on that theme.

Hunter is haunted by the mistake that defined his life. A chance encounter sets Edward on a search for answers. An act of bullying committed decades ago brings a day of reckoning for Quentin. Will must pay the ransom of conscience. A shocking event causes Laurel to fall victim to a temptation she cannot rationalize. Huck shuts out the loss he cannot face until he can deny it no longer. Malcolm seeks atonement for a desperate act committed in the name of love.

How did you get the idea for the book?
As a short story collection, it did not evolve as one idea, but rather more organically over time. The individual stories were written over a period of seven or eight years. Each story was a from-the-ground-up creative exploration on its own with all the associated pains of giving birth to fictional characters and the worlds they inhabit.

I was not conscious that the stories were circling around a common point of origin. Authors are often driven by psychological and emotional forces of which they are unaware. As I pulled the stories together into a collection, I began to see the connecting thread I mentioned earlier. I went through a couple of additional rounds of editing, guided by my editor and publisher, to emphasize the overriding theme and make the collection cohesive.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
My favourite character is Huck Fryman – the protagonist of the story Incorrigible. He was inspired by a real and quite eccentric person I encountered briefly a number of years ago. I was immediately driven to explore the experiences that may have made him into the eccentric he became and where that behavior might lead him.

The real-life person evolved into a fascinating and ultimately tragic character. Huck is unapologetic for refusing to conform to society’s expectations. He goes his own way and damn the consequences. But as sometimes happens, life took from him the thing he valued most. He retreats from the pain until he can avoid it no longer.

I am uncommonly fond of Huck and wish that the fate I created for him could have been less tragic. But it was the ending that the narrative demanded.


What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
The simple answer to this question is carving out the time and clearing away the clutter necessary to get into the writing mindset. Modern life is so busy, and at times chaotic, it is difficult to clear the psychological space I need to write. I have a day job so it is a constant struggle to find the time and the focus to write.

Writing short stories has its own challenges. Each one involves creating a miniature world from the ground up. I am starting from scratch each time which has its painful moments. Multiply that by 16 for this collection of stories. To continue the earlier metaphor, it is like creating 16 separate pearls.


What projects are you currently working on?
I have a pearl-in-the-making idea working itself out in the creative factory of my mind that will be my next novel. It will blend parallel storylines in the present and the past. In the present, it will depict a middle-aged, divorced man struggling to come to terms with his failures, with aging and where the next phase of his life will take him.

The parallel storyline in the past will depict a settler family (based on a real-life family) that carved out a harsh living on land they squatted on and are now being forced to leave. The two storylines will converge geographically and thematically. Stay tuned!

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
My tips are for fiction authors.

Tip #1: You will most likely have to make a conscious decision regarding why you write. Is it to earn a living or to pursue your creative passion? There are a few authors out there who are fortunate enough to combine the two. But for many of us, it is by necessity an either/or question. Think long and hard about this question and get comfortable with the answer you settle on.

Tip #2: Work hard to find your personal narrative voice. It is the most difficult thing for an aspiring author and it goes well beyond the first person or third person perspective question. In your early days, you will likely emulate the authors you enjoy and who inspire you. But eventually, your own unique voice has to emerge if you are to find fulfillment as an author.

Tip #3: Seek out and embrace solitude. It is a rare commodity in modern life. But it is within the discipline of solitude that the best fiction writing emerges. You have to plumb the depths of your subconscious for the stories you are driven to tell. You can only go there when you have cleared the clutter from your mind. In my experience, solitude is the only means of doing so.



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