AUTHOR INTERVIEW: MICHAEL ROBERT DYET AUTHOR OF HUNTING MUSKIE @mdyetmetaphor


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:

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage is a literary fiction short story collection. Each story was a from-the-ground-up creative exploration of 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 a commonality. The connecting 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.

My publisher saw the need for an anchor story for the collection. Slipstream, a novella length piece, was written for the purpose. 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.


Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Carving out the time, and clearing away the clutter necessary to get into the writing mindset, was the biggest challenge. Modern life is so busy, and often 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.

I have come to understand that there is always a lengthy germination process that precedes the writing of a story. The process actually starts at a subconscious level. I recognize potential for story ideas in real-life events and incidents. But all of these experiences have to be absorbed into the deeper recesses of my brain to be processed and shaped at the subconscious level.

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 do have three pieces of advice 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 single 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.


Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Blue Denim Press – a Canadian trade publisher of quality literary prose run by Shane Joseph and his wife Sarah. Shane is a writer himself and founded Blue Denim Press as a labour of love to help Canadian literary fiction authors get into print.

Shane and I met about a decade ago. I had self-published my first novel and was on the promotional circuit. Shane had a book of short stories published by a small publisher and was also doing the rounds. We commiserated, together with a couple of other authors, about the difficulties of getting published and the challenges of selling books.

The four of us bounced around the idea of starting some sort of publishing collective. I liked the idea, but unfortunately did not have the time available with the demands of my day job. Shane eventually took the initiative and founded Blue Denim Press which he runs as a sideline in addition to his own business. I have tremendous admiration for his commitment to preserving the identity of Canadian literature.


Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Having gone the self-publishing route the first time around, I had some familiarity with the publishing process and the challenges that come with it. I had gone through that initiation process.

What did surprise me, pleasantly so, was how much a good editor can improve my work. Shane worked with me for a full year in an editor role refining the stories. As an author, you lose perspective on your stories after having been immersed in them for so long. Indulgent writing habits develop of which you are often unaware. I will confess that it is a bit painful. But excising the little darlings you so love, but which do not advance the plot, is a critical exercise.

The stories in Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage are infinitely better as a result of Shane`s advice and coaching. The collection as a whole is more cohesive. I owe Shane a debt of gratitude for his editorial skills.


Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I have a pearl-in-the-making idea, working itself out in the creative factory of my mind, which 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!


Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

Readers may be surprised to discover a bird motif running through all the stories. I did not originally plan it to be that way. But I am an avid birdwatcher, so bird references find their way into my stories naturally. My publisher suggested embedding that motif in each story which made absolute sense to me.

In the words of one reviewer: Whether a pair of mourning doves, a golf ball-stealing hawk, or soaring turkey vultures, they are by turns harbingers, guardians, or Greek chorus, always reminding us that nothing we do happens in isolation.


Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

The overriding message of my stories is that it is the nature of life to test us and take us down challenging roads we would prefer not to traverse. We all feel at times like life is singling us out for undeserved punishment. But life is tough for everyone somewhere along the way. No one gets through life unscathed. 

As the subtitle of the book conveys, getting through the tough times becomes a rite of passage that makes us stronger, wiser and better equipped to live a fulfilling life. We appreciate our blessings far more when we have come through adversity.


Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Final words? There is no such thing for an author!

In all seriousness, it is my hope that readers see a bit of themselves in the stories and find encouragement for their life in that experience. I strive to make my characters reflect universal truths as well as the individual nature of everyone’s life journey.

Let me sign off by saying that I am The Metaphor Guy. Novelist, closet philosopher, chronicler of life’s mysteries – all through the lens of metaphor!



About the Book:

Title: HUNTING MUSKIE: RITES OF PASSAGE – STORIES BY MICHAEL ROBERT DYET
Author: Michael Robert Dyet
Publisher: Blue Denim Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary Fiction/Short Story Collection

BOOK BLURB: 
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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