Recently, I caught up with authors Alan Solomon and Taryn Simpson, authors of The Mango Tree Cafe’ Loi Kroh Road, to ask for an interview.
What is stunning about their union is Solomon makes his home in Asia, and Simpson resides in the USA.
Here’s what authors, Taryn Simpson and Alan Solomon had to say:
TS: A writer friend of mine got a lead from a gentleman that had written a rough draft of a book and needed someone to “punch it up”. She forwarded the book to me because it was fiction and she knows that it’s my speciality. I thought it was going to be ‘just another writing job’. Enter Alan Solomon and The Mango Tree Cafe, Loi Kroh Road. I read the synopsis he wrote for the book and was immediately taken with it.
Alan, can you share why you wrote this book?
AS: I received the power to write this novel from the moment I entered Loi Kroh Road and felt the mysterious magic of the street.
Please share with readers what it was like to work with an author from a different part of the world. Were there barriers?
TS: Absolutely! Being an American, it’s hard for me to fathom that people in other countries don’t have the same freedoms that we do. Even when it comes to something minor such as the internet. If you have lived in the USA your entire life, you tend to adopt the mindset of “If I have a certain freedom, surely everyone else has it too”. Although watching the news I know differently. It’s just different when you become aware of how rich our freedoms are in this country when you hear people from different parts of the country talk about certain limitations they have. For example, when I created the blog for the book, Alan wasn’t able to see it online for quite some time due to China’s strict internet laws.
TS (continues): Another barrier was I had a certain time frame where I could catch Alan on line. Remember, if the time in Nashville, TN USA is 8pm, it is 8am in Beijing. So, when I’m winding down from the day, Alan is beginning his. From 7:30pm my time until however late I could make myself stay up is when we had brief conversations about the book. Once I logged off for the night, Alan would leave me emails for the next morning (which is his night!). It was crazy!
AS: No barriers working with Taryn, Taryn was so enthusiastic and so helpful, for me it was like we were seated in the same bar side-by-side discussing our next move.
How long did it take you to write The Mango Tree Cafe’? Were friends, family members supportive?
TS: Well, that’s hard to say. Although the book was written, I re-wrote roughly half of it and added/deleted sections of the book. Generally a novel takes 2-3 months or maybe more. That’s not including editing. Yes, my partner endured many conversations about the book. When I become enthralled with a book, look out. I talk about it non-stop!
AS: The novel from start to finish took around 4 years, however the ‘pull’ to write was in my head for as long as I can remember, probably in High School. My family and friends never knew I was writing the Mango Tree Cafe, however if they had known they would have been supportive with a roar of laughter.
Without giving too much away, what is your favorite part of The Mango Tree Cafe? Do you have one?
TS: Oh, this is going to be difficult. Overall, I loved the fact that I got “lost” in this book as a reader. I’ve never been to Thailand and never had a yen to go. But, the events of the novel were so real to me that I felt like I have been there. It was a very strange feeling. And, meeting people in Nashville that had actually been there was just surreal.
TS (continues): I love many sections of the book. The ones that stand out in my mind is the metamorphisis the main character goes through. It covers from the time he is a child to current age of around 50ish. He is able to gain a realization about himself and his father which is very melancholy at best. It’s a sweet, sad, and all too painfully familiar feeling of knowing what it feels like to be so ultimately different from others and realizing that regardless of the lifestyle you lead, you can’t run from what is inside yourself. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a very poignant story. I promise you will be in tears at the end. Not to mention that the setting includes visions of a lush jungle full of exotic fish, elephants and street dogs. I tried to put that feel in the You Tube video I did for it.
AS: In the novel there are many personal favorite parts I enjoy, however I guess if I had to identify just one part I would have to say it was when Larry realized he lost his only love Noo and to the end of the novel believed he was hearing her and seeing her and that someday she would return to him.
Did you accomplish everything you set out to do when writing this story?
TS: I think so. This question would probably be better served if answered by Alan Solomon. But, after he read the final draft I sent him. I could tell he was quite pleased.
AS: Yes I believe so.
What do you want readers to come away with?
TS: I have to remind people that the story was created by Alan. But I want people to come away with whatever makes them think about the book. It has a lot of messages and there is one for everybody. I loved how the book describes the misfits of Loi Kroh Road as beautiful and exotic. Yet, the lives they lead were very gritty and difficult.
AS: Questioning life and how things happen to us as we travel through life which we can miss unless we are alert and seize the moment.
Are you working on anything at this time? Can you share what it is?
TS: I’m having to FORCE myself to move on from this book! LOL. I’m marketing the heck out of it as we speak. But, I have a couple of ideas for books that I am working on. The Mango Tree book has created a real desire in me to start writing “literary fiction” much in the same vein as “The Color Purple”, or “A River Runs Through it”. This book is pivotal in my career. My next book is tentatively entitled “Invisible Fences”. Although it can change.
AS: I am thinking all the time, I watch and listen and keep a notebook. Something may happen. I am not too sure.
Any advice to a writer in the process of writing her own book?
TS: Some writers will say write at any cost. I say write when you have alone time and if you don’t have it, make time to write. Even if it is for 10 or 20 minutes a day. Don’t be discouraged. Get it down. Worry about deleting or editing later. Listen to music or do an activity such as people watching that will help you get in the mood for what you are writing because I think it bleeds through.
AS: Place a mirror on your writing desk and as you write occasionally look up and you will see what your next line is to be, because looking right back at you will be the lines, the eyes sending you the message and experience of life.
Thank you, Taryn. Thank you, Alan, for your time.
Much success to both of you with The Mango Tree Cafe Loi Kroh Road. Now, this writer is off to get a mirror!