Hello Michael! Many thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’m sure our readers will benefit greatly from your valuable input as a writer and author. Can I start by asking you about your earliest creative influences? Within writing, who were the authors who first ‘spoke’ to you as a younger soul?
Greetings to you and your readers, Kev! And thank you for the opportunity of sharing with you.
Creative influences: this is a really intriguing question. Over the years there have been many, many influences. The earliest I can remember was the Bible, as I had a religious (Christian) childhood. Later, I remember particularly George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier which I read at the age of 21. Orwell has remained a literary Guru to me. My latest release A Home For Other Gods has been described as a follow on from Nineteen Eighty-Four.
By the millennium year, the time I started to concentrate exclusively on creative writing, there were two books in particular that stood out as beacons: Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, superb for its creative and intellectual excellence; Isabel Allende’s Paula for it’s unequalled emotional power. Back then I said that if I could ever get close to writing like either of these giants, I would be satisfied. Of course, I’m still trying!
I’m thoroughly enjoying your wonderful book, Forest Rain. How different in style is this book to your other publications and how did the initial seeds of inspiration begin to grow for this project?
Most people, on seeing the range of books I have written, express surprise at how different they are. You can see them at Michael’s books. I did not set out to write an eclectic range of books, but I’m happy that it worked out that way. Everything I write, whether metaphorical fiction, life writing or spiritual learnings, comes from the heart. I simply let out what wants to come out. Forest Rain is certainly a good example of that. It’s origins are covered in the forward to the book, which is titled ‘How This Book Came to be Written’. Essentially, I experienced a nervous breakdown that transformed into a breakthrough – a spiritual awakening that profoundly changed the direction of my life.
Forest Rain touches upon some very personal and deep philosophical elements, Michael. How important is philosophy and faith within your own life and do you envisage creating more books in the future, specifically within this genre?
Some years ago, out walking with my family, we passed a wheat field. Up close it looked haphazardly planted. A little further on, the path rose up and we looked back. The wheat was planted in a clearly discernable pattern of rows, all neatly laid out. You could even see where the tractor had made its turns at the end of the field. That image has always stayed with me. I’m 61 years old in this current lifetime now. As I experienced the journey from where I started to where I am now, events seemed haphazard, random and illogical as they occurred. But when I look back over the journey, I see much method, logic and planning that was always there, but could not be seen without perspective. I cannot separate ‘faith’ from ‘life’. To me, they are the same.
As to future books, yes, it is entirely possible that there will be more like Forest Rain. When I wrote it, in partnership with Komar, to whom it is dedicated, I understood that there would be five books. The next, Forest Dawn, is written, though will need a little revision. The third, Forest Pathways, is about half written. The fourth, Forest Clearing, is not yet started. The fifth title is Journey’s End. I shall leave it to you to work out when that one will be written! Forest Rain was released in February 2017. I don’t yet have a date for when Forest Dawn will be released – a lot depends on the level of interest Forest Rain engenders.
I’d like to ask you about your particular idiosyncrasies as a writer. For example, is there one particular place that you enjoy writing in? A particular time of day/night? Do you write with pen/paper, or are you firmly of the computer/word processor persuasion?
The location for setting down the words is unimportant. That said, I do much writing in Tenerife, where I spend as much of the winter as I can. What is important, though, is the making of mental space for the material to flow through. If I fill my time with communication and the receipt of information (conversation with others, the TV, etc.), I squeeze out the creative material that would otherwise come. To avoid that, I make time for meditation, both in the formal sense and also informally. For the latter, I love to spend time in my beloved New Forest, here in Hampshire, UK. The Forest has long been a source of inspiration and power to me. It is often when I walk, or even drive here, that the creative themes for my writing appear.
I always carry a notebook, or the material is lost. It is later that I settle to the keyboard to translate them into words. Keyboarding is hugely important, of course, but it is one step away from the pure creativity of receiving the material conceptually that will eventually become a book, that I love so much.
Whist on the topic of inspiration, is there a particular pattern to the ways in which you are inspired to write. Do your ideas tend to stem from a single, quick idea or are they prone towards being drawn out over time, gradually growing in size and breadth?
It can be either. For example, I write much poetry. There are four poetry chapbooks at Michael’s Books. Sometimes a poem, for example, ‘Solstice’, which I have just released on my Facebook page, will appear virtually fully formed, and all I do is set it down on paper, or keyboard.
On other occasions it will take months or even years to work a theme up to its full capacity. A Home For Other Gods started life as a short story that I never seemed to feel satisfied with. Eventually, after many drafts, I was happy with the story, but realised it could be a much bigger work. Once I saw the concept it took two periods of three weeks each, writing up to fifteen hours a day, to produce the first draft of the novella itself.
Aside from writing, what other creative arts interest you, Michael? Are you proficient in art or music, or do you draw great pleasure/relaxation from other creative muses?
I am close to profoundly deaf. Music has been inaccessible to me for thirty years now, though following a cochlear implant operation in 2016, that may eventually change. However, I am deeply interested in film, which, I regard as essentially literature in visual form.
Outside of writing, what are some of your other interests in life? How do you ‘switch off’ from the world? Are there specific, favourite geographical or historical locations that amplify your peaceful state?
My beloved hearing dog, Matt, is a huge priority. Now at 14 years of age, his time is drawing to a close. I am careful to take maximum opportunity for time with him every day with him that remains. He is at my feet as I type this, even now! Of course, walking in the New Forest is a favourite pastime for both of us, as well as being the source of much of my inspiration. You can read more about Matt in my book If It Wasn’t For That Dog which tells the story of our first year together in a hearing dog partnership.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Michael. To conclude, can you share some thoughts on your upcoming projects and what life holds in store for 2017 and 2018?
I have a full diary for this year. Much of my time will be devoted to book signings and events, such as the New Forest Show, where I will be exhibiting my books.
Bookings for 2018 have already started. In January I have an invitation to undertake a tour on (mostly) the Eastern Side of the USA. So far, it comprises Washington. Maryland and Chicago. That will be followed in February by a visit to Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, where I am invited to deliver a keynote speech to an educational conference. I will follow on from there to The Philippines for a follow up tour to the visit I paid there in February this year details are at Michael Forester Website. There were many venues we had to disappoint on the last trip due to the typhoons, so it will be a good opportunity to make good on the expectations of many folk there.
As to the writing itself, I am working towards the release of my first full-length novel, Vicious. Billed as ‘a novel of Punk Rock and the Second Coming of Christ, Vicious is the first of a trilogy that explores the nature of belief against a background of eschatology.’
Thanks so much for having me, Kev. It’s been a pleasure to join you.