This week's post marks the first author Q&A for Great Stories. Our guest is Sang Pak, whose excellent debut novel Wait Until Twilight was the focus of last week's post.
Here, he sheds some light on the inspiration for the story and its dark themes.
Was the idea for the book something that grew over time, or did you have a clear story outline from the start?
The idea was born from a set of dreams I had over a 2 week period a few summers back. I took the dreams, fleshed them out and added parts until I formed a story arc I could work with. Then revisions galore.
How much have your studies in psychology influenced this story?
You know, I think most of my psychological insights come from personal experience. Observing not only how I react to situations but other people as well. I've learned more from watching my thoughts and classmates during class than from the textbooks or lectures themselves. The only thing I gained from my studies were scientific terms to go along with those observations.
How did you decide on the idea of deformed babies to be the “freaks” that drive the change in Samuel? (And why three of them?)
Actually I dreamt of the three deformed babies. After I put it down on paper and was working on the revisions I started understanding what they meant. I'm not sure about the signifigance of three but I see it as a magical number not unlike the holy trinity: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, which does play a role in the book. The deformed babies are a metaphor for a wounded twisted aspect of Samuel that seeks nurturance and protection from an absent mother.
Did you have resistance from publishers on the theme?
My publishers loved the theme. They supported me from the get to. Very few revisions were asked for and they consisted mainly of a little more description in certain parts of the book.
What would like readers to take away from this story?
On a deeper level, it would be great if they recognized on some level, the struggle between chaos/nihilism/darkness versus order/belief/light. And how one can choose between the two...and how that choice can effect the rest of one's life.
Who/what do you like to read?
Hermnn Hesse, Raymond Carver, Flannery O'connor, Tolstoy, Yukio Mishima, Kurt Vonnegut
What’s next for you as a writer?
I'm working on another project but I don't talk about works in progress. It's bad luck!
(Thanks Sang for your time. Much appreciated.)