Today we talk about Breathless, a book by Edward Clifford, published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Edward Clifford, to get to know him better, what was the moment that led him to the writing of his book Breathless, as well as what particularly significant experiences in his life find expression in this story.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What was the moment in your life that led you to the writing of your book?
It was the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and I knew that I had time on my hands and the perfect environment in which to write uninterrupted. I had always wanted to write books and this was the opportunity to actually sit down and write one. I had recently returned home to South Africa after some five years of teaching abroad and had time on my hands. My brain was in a state of “all dressed up and nowhere to go”. Some time before, a friend of mine had insisted that I had what it takes to be a writer and we wrote the first two chapters of a book that was nothing like what I eventually wrote. I cringe to think what it would have been like had we continued in our haphazard manner. It was, however, a defining moment in focusing on a talent I had not had not yet developed. And so, I sat down at my computer, taught myself touch-typing and I wrote every day as the thoughts flowed and developed, and eventually I had a book with a story that was worthy of being told.
- What particularly significant experiences in your life find expression in your book?
I had worked and travelled in Asia and the Middle East and had met many interesting people and been privy to experiences that most travellers do not have. I did not want to create a travelogue, but a novel set in these exotic locations with characters whose voices were yet to be heard. My unique stories are told from first hand experience or by engaging closely with people who have had these experiences. My main character in Breathless loses her passport and is held in detention for two months in a Cambodian prison. That is one of the things that I have experienced first hand! The HRFI, on the other hand, was from my fertile imagination, although I had a friend whose family suffered under Daesh in the Marawa area of the Philippines. I realised that Islamic militants were essentially the same group under different names in different locations, so I created a hub joining them all and called it the Holy Revolutionary Fighters for Islam.
- What are the messages you want to convey with your book?
I wanted my readers to have insight into some characters of whom they would otherwise know very little. I wanted their humanity to show through with all their hopes and dreams, the challenges they face, the choices they make, their mistakes, their character flaws and strengths, and ultimately, their similarity to all of us. I wanted to depict another reality from the one we face every day, one that is real and true to life. I wanted my readers to feel with the characters, fear for them as they fight impossible odds, feel their pain and rejoice with them on their successes. My overarching aim was to show the similarity we have to each other and the hope that lies in our understanding of each other.
- How did it feel to see your book published?
It was wonderful to hold the first printed copy of my book in my hands and there was a sense of unreality. After all the time it took to get it into print, it was worth the blood, sweat and tears. However, anyone who thinks the process ends when you write the two final words at the end of the manuscript has a lot to learn. The End, is just the beginning of the arduous publishing process. I realised how much I had learned about the process through the expertise of the specialists at Europe Books and how grateful I was to have them in my camp. Seeing my book on Google was both satisfying and terrifying. Suddenly I was out there for other people to judge. But I realised I wanted to be judged, for my words and my stories to become a talking point in people’s lives, because then I had reached my audience, and, love it or hate it, at least they had read it and it had meant something to them, and as such, my writing was being validated.
- Are you planning to write more books?
I have completed the second book in the trilogy and am working on the third. Although they follow each other, they can be read as standalones as each has its own narrative. The characters are the same, but their journeys are different: no less challenging, but different. There is an element of a family saga as the books progress and side characters take a more prominent position in the sequels. Overall, I want the reader to see the hope we have if we take a moment to understand each other, especially in our values and the faiths that we follow. My books are by no means preaching and my readers will be able to find the common thread that runs through us all without it being necessary to pertinently be stated in my writings. And I know that no sooner than I have typed those two magic words at the end of book 3, than I will have more formulating in my mind. Such is the plight of a born story-teller.
Europe Books thanks the author Edward Clifford once again for taking the time and answering our Questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book Breathless. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish that this book allows you to connect with the characters of this story and become one with them precisely to feel their pains, joys and understand their difficulties and successes. May this connection offer you food for thought to bring into your everyday life as a brand new teaching.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!