Today, we’ve got Richard Goodfellow on the blog talking about his new book, Collector of Secrets, from Polis Books.
WN: Tell us about your experience with travel and how it influenced the plot of your new thriller ‘Collector of Secrets’?
GOODFELLOW: Interesting question, as I don’t know what I’d do without travel in my life. I guess the bug hit during my first overseas trip at the age of four, and to date I’ve logged visits to 50+ countries and all seven continents (including Antarctica, which was an amazing trip where I met up with my friends who were riding their motorcycles from Vancouver to the end of South America and back).
And yet even with all the extensive travel there are only 3 countries that I can truly say I’ve called ‘home’ for any period of time – Canada, Japan and America. The two years living in Japan was in the 90s, when my time was spent working in Tokyo as an English teacher. Back then it was all about securing teaching jobs that would pay the big-city monthly bills while leaving some money for the occasional escape to the countryside every couple of months.
So when ‘Collector of Secrets’ first draft was almost finished, in 2007, I journeyed back to Japan for a one-month working trip. Every day was packed full of places to see as I wanted to really get into the heads of all the characters and make sure that the book’s settings were as true and realistic as possible.
This journey gave me the chance to explore a far greater cross-section of the extraordinary country that is Japan. Hokkaido (in the north) has majestic mountains, while the islands of Okinawa (in the south) are surrounded with white sandy beaches. In between are the futuristic megacities of Tokyo and Osaka, the spectacular Izu peninsula and the tranquil temples of Kyoto and Nara.
And while ‘Collector Of Secrets’ was first written in coffee shops and airports throughout Tennessee, Virginia, California, and a dozen other states, I found that some Japanese scenes fit well as they’d been originally envisioned, while others, like the Izu Peninsula car chase or the Mabuni (suicide) cliffs at the southern end of Okinawa’s main island, presented the opportunity for change and improvement.
I also learned a great deal more about the history of the country, from a military conquest perspective, and this too was merged into book. Many tragic events took place during both World Wars and for many years prior to that across much of Asia (Imperialism). And while this historical fact was difficult to read and digest – like the prisoners of war used as slave labor – it was necessary to better understand a more complete picture of the foundation upon which modern Japan sits.
Travel always presents vivid highs and lows, especially the kind done with a backpack and a spirit of adventure, and this trip was no different. Yet, thinking back, I can’t imagine presenting ‘Collector of Secrets’ for print if I hadn’t done this trip. It sharpened and re-shaped the book, while giving me a chance to re-visit and re-evaluate my amazing temporary home more than 20 years after the fact.
Richard Goodfellow’s debut novel – ‘Collector of Secrets’ – is available now in hardcover and ebook from Polis Books. Visit him online at http://www.collectorofsecrets.com or at @rgfellowauthor.