Guest Author Interview – Ashley Borodin

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Title: The Jealous Flock

Genre: LGBT/Political/Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis: The Abridged Jealous Flock – A novella that dares to peek behind the curtain of 2017. Forced from their collective comfort zone, all three members of Martin’s family come face to face with the realities that underpin their urbane way of life. Each is faced with a paradox that will test their belief in themselves and their image of the tolerant, liberal society they believe they inhabit. A Literary Epic in Miniature, The Jealous Flock takes readers from the cloistered air of Professional London through the harsh realities of the Middle East and on to the culture war simmering beneath the surface in Australia. Through their interwoven narratives each character tries to grapple with change as they question their authenticity and value as individuals amidst The Jealous Flock.

Ashley Borodin, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Ashley Borodin, an author of poetry, novellas and short stories from Australia. Welcome to my blog, Ashley.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

AB: The one that no-one wants to read.

CH: This book deals with political issues. Where did you get the idea for this book?

AB: These are ideas I’ve had bumping around in my head for a long time. World events over the last 4–5 years gave me some context for articulating them. The increase in terrorism, but more so, the insidious grooming by terrorists of Westerners and empathetic people through the internet.

The rising racial and religious fracturing going on around the world as left and right fly to the extreme ends of the spectrum.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

AB: (Spoiler Alert) Funny story about that. The start of the book has a story about a Public Relations guy who meets with some small-time terrorists/tribal warriors in Afghanistan to discuss their advertising campaign. That sounds quite funny to me, and it is, but I try not to play up the absurdity of it because I wanted it to feel entirely normal.

My wife, when she first read it, said no-one is going to buy into this scenario, it’s completely unrealistic.

Three years later a Canadian journalist returned from Syria and began to relate a story eerily similar to my own. Her name was Vanessa Beeley, and you can find her speech with Q & A to the United Nations on YouTube.

CH: Was there a special reason that you decided to write this book?

AB: Well, I had these disparate stories inside me, and as I started to write them down a web of connections was forming between them. So I just joined the dots. But also in part, I wanted to finish something. And in a sense this book is incomplete—it needs more character development and I can accept that criticism, but it is finished.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

AB: I’ve always watched a lot of documentaries and had a keen interest in foreign cultures and perspectives in the world. As I write this I’m wondering what the reader will make of it. I’m really no good at selling or relating to people, but I feel like this is a book that could appeal broadly, though so far feedback has proven me wrong.

I did internet research and based a lot of the book on direct experience. Also, as with docos, a lot of it was passive research—watching films and interviews from the regions and demographics I cover in the book.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

AB: Hmmm…Did I mention I’m not good at selling or relating to people? But to try to answer your question, I hope I bring intellect and poetry.

CH: How do you develop the characters – beforehand or as you write the story?

AB: A bit of both. Part of it is putting myself in their shoes, dimming the lights and recording—literally recording my voice—what I experience. I put myself in Afghanistan, and I feel what it’s like to be there, what I’m afraid of, what I’d hope to achieve if I were this person. Method acting, I suppose.

Over time the character emerges through interaction with the environment, the same way yours and my own character has been shaped by our interactions and experiences.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

AB: Martin, the PR man, because he’s the hero out there in the world effecting change. And Randall, because he’s just like me, so it was really easy.

CH: Who was the hardest character to write?

AB: John, the son of Martin and Doris, and Doris, and Martin. So, all of the successful middle-class characters basically. I can’t relate to that at all. I wish I’d never tried to aim for characters so remote from my own experience.

CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

AB: It’s a kind of nuanced response to Ayn Rand. I’ve never read a decent response to her work, so I tried to write it to some degree. The message is varied but it’s about the need for new ways of bringing people together across social, racial, political—across all divides. About empathy and what I’ve called Gelato Centrism—the many-flavoured middle ground where black, white, Muslim, gay, conservative, whatever can all agree to discuss, collaborate without sacrificing what we hold most dear—our sense of self.

Ayn Rand spoke of ‘selfishness’ as a positive, but she really meant Identity.

Identitarians and Social Justice Warriors talk of Identity, but they really mean Collectivism—fitting in with the group.

I preach a middle path, a constant flux between the two. The flux matters, just like conversation matters. We are all amorphous—shifting, cloudlike. Trying to pin yourself down doesn’t just limit you, it ruins you.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book?

AB: Love/hate. Getting people to read it in the first place has proved pretty difficult.

CH: Since this is your debut novel, what inspired you to write it?

AB: Wanting to give voice to all these stories that no-one else was.

CH: What is your next writing project?

AB: Not sure. I’ve started a novel from a child’s perspective about a boy who escapes a farm-school in the 1930’s. But I’m not sure where it’s going yet.

I also wanted an excuse to buy a camera I can’t afford, and that excuse is a coffee-table book of the poems that I post on Twitter.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

AB: Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Also, for your readers/fans, I can do one better, it’s free here: http://books.noisetrade.com/ashleyborodin/the-jealous-flock

CH: How to Find Ashley Borodin:

 CH: Any closing remarks?

AB: Well, Cheryl, thanks for the opportunity, it’s probably not your reader’s cup of tea, but then I get that a lot.

CH: Thank you so much, Ashley Borodin for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Ashley Borodin and Cheryl Holloway..

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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