Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Means to Tell a Story -- The Rocky Perry Q&A

The following is from Rocky Perry's Goodreads page:

I have traveled many places and had many experiences, but it was my personal obstacles that gave me the gift of creativity. Some people are just made to create things. I feel like I was put on Earth to tell stories. I wrote my first book back in 2009 while I was studying Early Childhood Education at Dalton State College in Georgia. I have always tried to do the things that are hardest for me. I learned to read and write later than most people due to my Dyslexia, which I was diagnosed with in the early eighties. It was so hard that I never cared to read. Like many others, the things that made life hard caused me to develop into the person I am today. I was never good in school and was always labeled as a slacker or lazy by teachers who didn’t understand how difficult it is to live and function in a regular school with Dyslexia. This fact is the reason I went back into education and teach children today. I spend each week teaching every child and keeping in mind that we are all different and smart is a measure of what you can create and the problems you can solve. Writing a book, like getting my degree, presented some unique challenges, but I did finish the book and when I looked back at all the things I learned from the experience, I knew I had to keep writing. In early 2011 I started work on Luke Banderloft and The McFarven Pirates. A ten book series that tells a story that has been in my head since I was very young. An entire world that I am ready to share with the world. Luke, like most of us, has his strengths and his weaknesses and must rely on his friends to overcome his obstacles.

And that is why you need to know Rocky Perry.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

In 2015, I have a novel called The Change coming out.  I am working to get it done right now.  It explores race, religion, and culture in the south through the eyes of three unlikely strangers who come together through extraordinary circumstance.  One is a Katrina survivor and the other two residence of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The story takes place in Chattanooga and New Orleans.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I don’t tend to go back.  I am always looking for something new to talk about in my work.  When I start looking for a theme in my work, I tend to find really general aspects of humanity, like love, revenge, and justice.  I don’t know if these are a theme, but rather a reflection of my work’s constant topic, humanity.  I’ll let someone else decide.  Metacognition is not part of my process.

What would be your dream project?

I love working in film and I really enjoy collaborative works.  I guess my dream project would be to work on a feature film, something with a budget.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I don’t normally like to revisit projects.  I am always looking ahead.  I am however always looking to work with certain people again.  I had a great time with Cook Box Productions, The Daily Show, and MintyPineapple film.  I would love to work with them again in the future.

What inspires you to write?

Writing is a means to tell a story.  I write to tell stories that I want to tell.  It is really the only way one person can have so much control over the process of telling a story, unlike film. I have a unique relationship with writing.   I didn’t learn to read until I was ten years old.  I was on a third grade reading and writing level when I graduated from high school.  My disabilities made writing a very unlikely career choice for me, or maybe it made it the only career choice.  Either way, I am always working on becoming a better writer because I ultimately want to better tell my stories.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I couldn’t read for a much of my life, so I was read to by my mother a great deal or listened to book on tape from the library.  They tended to be the classics.  I was influence by To Kill a Mockingbird or On the Road more so than any modern writer.  My mentor and I never talk about technique.  One of his books turned me on to fantasy when I was in middle school.  It was the first fantasy book, outside of C.S. Lewis or Tolkien I had ever heard.  I am very lucky to have him as a friend and mentor. 

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Well, writing is art.  Any process that yields a product which has the ability to be judged with subjectivity is art.  I think art is much broader than some people give it credit.  Writing, like most processes that create enter their product into the world, a world that wants very badly to answer all the questions and be definitive and absolute in their judgment and understanding of the product.  It is one of the failures of humanity.  We think we know and we don’t know anything, just like in science.  The two are really the same, we just make them very different because it makes us uncomfortable to consider both exist on a spectrum or continuum in which each of us has their own set of tools to measure.  If science and art are eggs, the chicken is man’s unique ability to tell a story or speculate on the unknown or uncertain.