“Mom was a single parent in the 1950s — easily the bravest, strongest, most resourceful person I’ve ever met — and her unconditional love for me inspired the bond between Granny and Zoe” | Q&A with Author Allan Stratton on his new book ‘The Way Back Home’

It is almost a sin to muddle my thoughts with the words of Allan Stratton. He is truly a writer that crafts his work about the human condition, and his latest book is certainly one that deals with a reality that many of us are familiar with. Allan was kind enough to enlighten me about his new work The Way Back Home by answering a few questions for me here. The book is being released on May 9, 2017.

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1) First off, could you give me a bit of an outline for “The Way Back Home” and news about its release?

THE WAY BACK HOME is about Zoe Bird, a troubled girl whose one true friend is her Granny, now suffering from Alzheimers’. When Zoe’s parents place Granny in a nursing home against her will, Zoe springs her and together they set off on a road trip to find Zoe’s missing uncle —  an uncle whom Zoe had thought was dead, but who is alive and Granny’s last hope.

It’s out the first of May in Canada and the UK. New year it’ll be out in translation in Italy, Poland and France, with a separate French translation for Quebec. Arrangements in other countries are in the works.

2) How long did it take you to write “The Way Back Home?”

The first draft took nine months, which is appropriate as I consider my books my ‘brain babies.’ It went through a couple of significant draft revisions over eight months. That’s longer than usual but I was distracted by a lot of travel for foreign editions of “The Dogs”: Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Rimini, Mantua, Krakow, Prague, New York and San Francisco. I wish all my problems were so much fun.

3) Was there anything specific that inspired you want to write this book?

Yes. My mom. She had Alzheimer’s and is very much the inspiration for Granny. Mom was a single parent in the 1950s — easily the bravest, strongest, most resourceful person I’ve ever met — and her unconditional love for me inspired the bond between Granny and Zoe.

This précis of Mom’s life may give you some idea of her achievements. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, she broke a lot of glass ceilings for women: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=dorothy-annabelle-stratton-mcphedran-avis&pid=155313009

4) No doubt you are busy with the release of this book, but I would be severely “chewed out” by my followers and your fans if I didn’t ask you if you are doing any public readings or events of any of your works. If yes, are there any specific dates you are looking forward to attending?

I’m doing the “Junction Reads” reading series in Toronto end of April (Link Here) and will be in Saskatchewan in May. In September, I’m going to be at the Thin Air Festival in Winnipeg. (Link Here) I’ll know if there are other fall festivals in the next few weeks. School and library visits come up as they come up. These days, blogs like yours, social media and Skype visits are the major way to get the word out.

5) So I think I have miscounted so I will ask you directly – How many novels have you had published now? Has your writing changed with “The Way Back Home” since your first novel? If yes, how so?

I’ve written ten novels, two of which were specifically for adults, two specifically for ages 9 – 13, and the others, like this “The Way Back Home”, from Middle Grade through adult. In the 1980s I wrote plays; that’s what I was originally known for; one of them, “Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii” has been running in rep in Warsaw, Poland for just over a year now. I also wrote two stage adaptations and a couple of one-act radio plays.

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“My only time in a tux, imagining myself in a Cole Porter musical”  – Allan Stratton

 

6) Many of my followers always look for a way to interact with the authors they read. You have launched a new website and have an active presence on Facebook. Is interacting on the internet with fans something you enjoy?

Absolutely. I make it a point to answer every email I get. Anyone can reach me at http://www.allanstratton.com

7) You seem to be an avid traveler and your fans seem to enjoy hearing about your journeys. Are you planning any new and exciting personal trips in the near future?

I am an avid traveler. You can see a slideshow of shots of some of my travels at my website, under “About Allan”, but this year I’m planning to stay in Canada, aside from a couple of trips this winter to favourite haunts in Cuba (Sol Cayo Largo for being Robinson Crusoe-esque – you can walk the shore for hours without seeing anyone — and Paradisus de Oro for its terrific from-shore snorkel reefs).

The reason for staying is that my husband and I bought a cottage in northern Quebec which we renovated last summer. I never thought I’d be into that, but hey. We’ll be there for five months: loons swim by the deck; there are rabbits and bears; Northern Lights; and moose mating calls in the fall.

For readers interested in travel tips beyond Europe and the Caribbean: In South America, I’d suggest Argentina (Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires and Salta especially) and Chile (from the Andes through the lake district and down to the penguins in Patagonia). Peru has some obvious highlights (Machu Picchu and Colca Canyon), but I’d see it after those.

Of the five countries I’ve visited in subSahara, I’d recommend Botswana hands down. It’s by far the safest and Chobe and Linyata National Parks are astonishing.

In Asia, I’d recommend China over Vietnam or Thailand, but Cambodia’s Siem Reap area over all of them: Angor Watt is truly out of this world.

I loved travelling in north Africa and the Middle East (Jordan’s Petra is up there with Angor Watt, and snorkeling in the Red Sea at Aqaba is a must). I also loved loved loved Egypt, but I don’t think I’d go now. Jerusalem is wonderful for the richness of its history, but it has a hard, unfriendly feel – Tel Aviv, on the other hand, is totally relaxed and welcoming.

One country I haven’t spent any time in is Portugal. So I want to get there and also back to southern Spain. I would have loved to go to St. Petersburg, but with Russia’s leadership in global anti-LGBTQ attacks, there’s just no way.

Gosh, I could go on and on, but… yes, travel is a passion.

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Allan Stratton signing copies of “Chanda’s Secrets” at the Vietnam Book Fair in Ho Chi Minh City

Hey, thanks for the interview! It’s been fun.

Thanks for answering these questions Allan!

*****

Link to Scholastic Canada’s website for “The Way Back Home”

Link to Allan Stratton’s website

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