Interview: Carole Brungar talks about her novel The Nam Legacy

Carole Brungar has a Degree in Communication, majoring in Communication Management and Journalism, and has worked as a journalist and photographer for many years. In 2016 the opening chapter of The Nam Legacy won The California Dreamin’ Hooker Competition for the best opening hook. The year before her first novel, A tide too high, also took second place for best first book, and best novel with romantic elements. Although Carole enjoys writing romantic fiction, she loved the challenge of setting a story around actual events in New Zealand history. She talks to NZ Booklovers about The Nam Legacy.

Tell us a little about your novel.

The Nam Legacy is set in New Zealand in the 60s and 70s and it follows the life of a young couple. Evie goes off to follow her dreams so Jack signs up to join the army and heads off to Vietnam, doing as many young lads did during that time, looking for an adventure. The story follows Jack’s experiences in Vietnam and then his return to New Zealand.

What inspired you to write this book?

As a teenager my favourite programmes were M.A.S.H, China Beach and Tour of Duty. I have had a fascination with the Vietnam War ever since. Over the years of researching I was saddened to learn what the young men who went to Vietnam seemed to have been treated with great disrespect. The impact Vietnam had on them has in many cases lasted a lifetime. I decided I wanted to write about it in some way.

What research was involved?

I read as much as I could, watched hundreds of hours of documentaries plus interviewed Veterans. I got involved with veteran groups and then went to Vietnam to see where the Kiwis and my characters had been and to be able to experience the senses.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I wrote every chance I got. I wrote during my lunch breaks at work, in the evening and often at least one day during the weekends. I’m a slow writer and like the story line to be as good as possible on the first draft so I made a pact with myself not to look back during my first draft in order to get it finished as quickly as possible.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

1. Reflections – Diana Ross and The Supremes. 2. Green Green Grass of Home – Tom Jones (it was Victor One’s swan song). 3. No Place to Run – Martha and The Vandellas.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Wow, that’s a hard one. I need two male characters, Jack and his best mate Terry and I’d probably choose from Matt Whelan, KJ Apa, Dean O’Gorman and Martin Henderson. For Evie, perhaps Anna Hutchinson?

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

The research. I loved it!

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I took a few weeks off, went to Vietnam, and attacked the stack of books by New Zealand authors I’ve been building and started reading for pleasure. Oh, and may have consumed the odd glass of bubbles!

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Fire by Deborah Challinor. I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time, and it was well worth the wait.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’ve started writing a follow-up to The Nam Legacy which will include a few surprises for readers, then I have some ideas for another story that I’d like to explore.

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Karen McKenzie Karen McKenzie is a Director of NZ Booklovers. She has worked in book publishing for the past 17 years, as a publicist and also selling international rights. Karen is passionate about book publishing and enjoys working with authors to help them realise their dreams. She is also a published author of twelve books under the name ‘Karen McMillan’. More info at www.karenm.co.nz

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