“Stormy Weather” by Dermot Davis is a very clever and entertaining novel about Robert Munro,a psycho therapist whose life suddenly seems to unravel in front of his eyes: His son is seeing imaginary friends, his depressed wife is taking off on a holiday to Mexico and he experiences very disturbing phenomena himself.
As the lines between his own reality and a dream-like world of unexplicable experiences blurr, he realises that he needs to look deeper into his own repressed memories and issues.
No longer certain of anything he is stunned by the messages his subconscious is sending him, trying to figure out what it is telling him through his dreams and suddenly so vivid imagination.
Robert is an excellent protagonist, a pedantic theorist who is quickly out of his comfort zone. As he discovers his inner child, re-discovers his passion for music and resolves his hurt, things become clearer to him and result in a beautiful denouement.
The story, however, is much more involved than this. It includes a lot of highly intelligent conversations about psychology, analysis and self-realisation, supported by great quotes that introduce the chapters, quoting wisdom from Aristotle to Erich Fromm.
The book also presents us with charming and warm characters that counter balance the intellectual side of the book with lively and light-hearted dialogue and scenes.
The ending brings everything to a very rewarding solution.
Smart, playful, up-beat and endearing.
Interview with Dermot:
Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?
Although I wrote some poetry and short stories early on, I didn’t start writing seriously until my early twenties. I’ve always loved live theatre and I was involved in theatre as an actor and director from when I was in my teens. I began writing plays and I still consider it to one of the hardest forms of writing. From plays, I graduated to writing screenplays.
How does the experience of writing a play differ from that of writing a novel?
For me, they pose a very different set of challenges. The limitations involved in writing a play are very strict and confining and can be very difficult to adhere to or overcome. In a play, the entire action is taking place in real time and although you can play around with creative lighting, scene changes, blocking and so on, so much is dependent on the dialogue itself. Mostly everything has to be conveyed through believable dialogue between the characters on stage and the number of characters you can put on a stage at any one time tends to determine what can happen in a scene.
And writing the novel?
Writing the novel is almost like going to the other extreme where there are limitless possibilities. You can write for a cast of thousands, travel back and forth around the world and through time itself and you have the opportunity of allowing your characters to speak pages and pages about their inner-most thoughts. It’s wonderful.
Tell us about your book. (Stormy Weather) How did you decide on the characters, plots and title?
Stormy Weather is my first novel and arises from my interest in trying to understand what human consciousness actually is. Eastern philosophy suggests that what we regard as reality is actually a dream; a dream within a dream. I started with the character of a psychotherapist who fancied himself as a dream interpretation expert and basically had him wake up one morning trapped in a dream that he couldn’t wake up from. The only way he can awaken from his dream is to solve the puzzle of his own personal dream symbolism and integrate or heal the unresolved issues of his past. His experience mimics what eastern philosophy suggests each of us must do to “awaken” from our own self-imprisoned dream state and by so doing become “enlightened.”
What is your background in psychology and dream analysis? Or How did you research?
Apart from selecting the philosophical quotes I used to denote chapter breaks, I didn’t do any research specifically for the book. I’ve read and studied many diverse disciplines especially those concerning philosophy and psychology and they tend to infiltrate all my stories J. If you look through the Amazon reviews on all the books I’ve written, you’ll see the phrase, “thoughtful and thought-provoking” used again and again. And “entertaining,” let’s not put readers off! “Highly entertaining!” says the reviewer, “ReadsAlotOfBooksThatDon’tSuck.”
Do you think that your readers prefer you sticking to one particular genre, or are they flexible enough to switch with you?
I’m very much saddened to say that it has been my experience that most readers do not read across genres but tend to stick with one particular genre that they enjoy reading. I write what interests me, just as I read what interests me; different genres, fiction and non-fiction but the sales of my books do suffer from not sticking to just one genre.
Do you have a favourite book? Which one would you say is your most successful book?
I have 7 books in my storefront, two of them co-written and one a novella. They range in genre from literary fiction to sci-fi comedy but my most successful one – sales-wise – has been about romance, called Zen and Sex. My most successful book from an award-winning, critically acclaimed point of view is Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World, which is a book that I’m sure every author can relate to. Looking at the age-old uneasy alliance between art and commerce, it asks the question: Do I write books of literary merit but with limited commercial appeal or do I only write books that my publisher tells me they can sell?
What are you working on now?
I just finished a novel called The Younger Man. Because it’s a first person narrative of a 38 year old woman considering a romance with a younger man, it’s categorized as Women’s Fiction. I had such a blast writing it and because the character has not yet resolved her issues, I’m writing a sequel. Incidentally, The Younger Man is the same story as Zen and Sex, except told from the woman’s point of view.
Why write the same story twice?
Zen and Sex is a first person narrative of a twenty-four year old guy meeting an older woman. When I wrote it I mistakenly believed that it would appeal to guys and they would understand where he is coming from and nod in agreement as they followed his exploits. However, what I didn’t know at the time was that guys are greatly outnumbered by women when it comes to buying and reading books. Stats also show that when guys do buy books, they tend to go for thrillers and avoid anything got to do with romance. So, the vast majority of readers of the book turned out to be women and a lot of the feedback I received from them was: if this is what the man is thinking – Julia Louis-Dreyfuswhat is the woman thinking? Hence, The Younger Man.
What was it like writing as a woman?
Even as an exercise, I would encourage every author to try write from the opposite gender perspective: it was very revelatory. What men want and what women want are not the same things; how they think are not exactly the same and even how they relate to others is very different. Even though I was writing about the same romance, writing it from each of their perspectives resulted in two completely different books which are even different genres! Whereas the book from the male POV is considered a comedy, the book from the female POV is more of a drama. Whereas the guy spends most of his time fixated on the woman and has little else going on in his life, the woman is more concerned with ALL of the relationships in her life, not just the romantic one. The female book is less about romance and more about the woman’s self-evaluation, as if meeting the younger man acts as a catalyst for her to take a good hard look at her past and present relationships with all the people in her life. It was a wonderful writing experience and I’m sure it will help deepen all my future female characters in upcoming stories.
What makes you laugh?
I love clever comedy even when it doesn’t look like it’s clever comedy, like say, Monty Python or the Marx Brothers. A lot of British humour is clever in its understatement, as is New York humour epitomized by Seinfeld, Woody Allen and more recently Tina Fey and Julia Louis Dreyfus in the TV show, The Veep.
Dermot is an Irish writer now living in the US. As a playwright, Dermot is a recipient of the O.Z. Whitehead Award which was co-sponsored by Irish Pen and the Society of Irish Playwrights. Winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards for humor, Dermot’s third novel, “Brain: The Man That Wrote the Book That Changed the World,” is “an entertaining farce about modern society; a deft, fast-paced tale that will leave self-aware readers giggling,” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). Coming “Highly Recommended” by the Midwest Book Review, who also called it, “ironic, iconoclastic and pure entertainment from first page to last,” the book poses the question of whether an author should write from the heart or write only books that he thinks will sell.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Dermot-Davis/e/B00AC5ZMZQ