Author Interview: Tui Allen
I would like to introduce Author Tui Allen, the winner of the the B.R.A.G Medallion.
Please tell us about your book, “Ripple.”
Ripple arose from my fascination with two facts:
· Dolphins were fully evolved 20 million years before humans came down from the trees.
· A dolphin brain has ten times the capacity of the human brain for processing sound.
It made me realise how little we really know about dolphins, how great is their mystery and how presumptuous we are to consider ourselves worth more than them. I want my readers, to wonder if this story might really have happened and then to want to give all cetaceans the benefit of the doubt and accord more respect to all those life-forms which humans, through their own limitations, cannot possibly fully understand. The book had a working title, “Ripple of Sound.” The story brewed in my brain for twenty years before the novel emerged. The poem version was the first incarnation of the story. The poem is included at the end of the book. It’s about twenty years older than the novel
What were some of the challenges you faced while researching for your story?
I needed to know what life was like in this part of the world twenty million years ago, but I had no idea before I started. I had a lot of help from people in the geology department of the Otago University, both from their writings and even in person. I soon learnt that in that era, New-Zealand itself was not even here yet. It was mostly still underwater. Dr Ewan Fordyce at Otago University showed me a real dolphin skull from my era and a case full of marine fossils and shells which were all from that time. It was utterly inspiring. I have a photo of my hands cradling that skull. To me it was the real skull of Ripple herself. It was an emotional moment.
Is there a message in your book you want readers to grasp?
Oh definitely. A very similar message to the one Samuel Taylor Coleridge sent us all those centuries ago. Respect for all living things, great and small, because when we kill, we do not understand the enormity of what we have done and may never know until it is too late.
What is your next book project?
A story called Rigel’s Prayer which continues on with some of the characters from Ripple, including another incarnation of Ripple’s mother Pearl on a distant world. I’d also like to resurrect an old children’s picture book of mine called “Captain Clancy the Flying Clothesline” but with different illustrations.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I am heavily influenced by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and can recite The Ancient Mariner by heart. It takes half an hour to recite. I love our NZ kiwi children’s authors. I’m convinced we have the best in the world right here in NZ.
What is your favorite quote?
I am not a religious person, and not a creationist, but I somehow still agree with Coleridge when he says, in his famous poem:
“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
It’s all about the story. Find one that’s truly worth telling, that has never been told before and then tell it to the very best of your ability. Never waste your time on a second rate story.
Although Tui Allen was born in the rural New-Zealand town of Te-Awamutu, she grew up in a sailing family in Auckland. She rode horses in her teens and was a keen sailor as a young woman during the 1970s, when she cruised the South Pacific under sail in the small wooden yacht, which was her first marital home. She met many cetaceans during those voyages.
Since then she has worked as a teacher, a children’s author and a web designer. In her thirties and forties she became a long-distance athlete and completed half marathons and marathons as well as some half-ironman and ironman triathlons.
At the turn of the millennium, she returned to live close to the place of her birth in the rural Waikato area of Te Pahu, close to Mt Pirongia and Te Awamutu, where she continues to enjoy both road cycling and mountain-biking in her spare time.
She chooses to refrain from eating fish or animal flesh because of her love of animals and her concerns about the negative environmental effects of the fishing industry. She is the mother of two grown children. Ripple is her first novel.
Ripple has been selected to help showcase NZ literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October where NZ is the 2012 Country of Honour.
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Tui Allen who is the author of Ripple, one of our medallion honorees at http://www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Ripple merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Thank you for this wonderful interview