Interview: Raewyn Dawson talks about Child Power
Raewyn Dawson is a recognised poet, award-winning public speaker, previous Classical Studies teacher and pianist. Raewyn belongs to Toastmasters International in NZ, and has the Distinguished Toastmaster Award, as well as representing NZ in the semi-finals in San Diego. She was the founding Academic Principal of Victoria English College, and has taught in high schools in Christchurch and Auckland. When teaching Classical Studies, Raewyn’s hero was Alexander the Great, hence this book series’ time scale. Raewyn talks to NZ Booklovers.
Tell us a little about Child Power.
It follows on just a few months later than Slave Power and explores not just the love between Mati and Melo and the growing personal powers of Atty but also the ongoing struggles for children’s freedom and fulfilment in spite of repressive and even brutal conditions then in cities and country. Mithrida and Nigeli are still two of the worst villains.
Was it difficult to write this sequel to Slave Power?
No, much easier, because I felt I just had to check in with the living characters and see what they were doing.
In what ways is this second book different from the first?
The first book was an experiment to see if I could sustain the discipline and imagination in my rather demanding lifestyle to write a complete story. The second one didn’t give me that doubt - I wanted and still do, to keep telling the story.
What has been the reaction to your first book Slave Power?
More examples of older people seem to have loved it than young adults so far. Perhaps because it’s focused mostly on younger women it’s been not so strongly recommended by male readers.
What research was involved in writing book two?
I researched a great deal about mosquitoes and how to cope at that time with malaria. Also the Mt Ararat region was fascinating to study.
What was your routine or process when writing book two?
A similar routine to the first book - very early morning rousing and sitting up in bed with my computer. Sometimes I had to sit and listen to what the characters wanted to say. Although I drafted out a rough plot structure, often the story wandered away and went in unexpected directions.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?
I loved the images of children being empowered. The plaiting of all the plot threads together gives me great satisfaction.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
The book launch this week is my real celebration - many dear friends all gathered together and warmly expressing their enjoyment of this ongoing adventure.
What is your favourite book so far this year and why?
Robin Hobbs is my favourite author, and I deeply appreciated her ‘Assassin’s Fate’. So intricately detailed and rich with myth. Her central characters are powerful and authentic.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I shall need at least two years to write the concluding book in the series. So many ideas! It’s demanding, following through with coherence and purpose.