Author Interview: Danny Wynn–Man From the Sky

What inspired you to write this story in the form of a novella? 

I’m a firm believer that each story has a natural length, and a story will be less than its best if the writer departs from, or doesn’t find, the natural length, either because he or she is trying to achieve a length required by industry customs and practices or by other imposed requirements.  I personally find many novels too long for their meaningful content, and I can’t help but feel that in some cases that is the result of writers conforming to what they are told is the necessary length for a novel.  And there are other writers who use over-writing as part of their process, rely on editing to getting them to the proper length, and then for internal or external reasons fail in the editing process.

All of this is an excessively long way (probably needing editing) of saying that “Man from the Sky” is the length it is because I found that to be its natural length.  I considered making it longer so as to qualify as a novel, but concluded that would weaken a tight, sparely-written, well-paced story, and naturally didn’t want to do that. 

Which writers and what works count amongst your greatest writing influences?  

“A Good Day to Die” by Jim Harrison, “Dog Soldiers” and “A Flag for Sunrise” by Robert Stone, “The Comediens” and “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene, “The New Confessions” by William Boyd, and “The Magus” by John Fowles.

“Man from the Sky” contains a bonus short story entitled, “The Moment” which touches about the idea of recapturing lost youth.  What themes would you say both stories have most in common with one another?  To be more precise, “The Moment” deals with a 53-year-old taking a look back to see who he was 25-30 years before.  The device that is similar in both books is the notion of looking back over your life and assessing it, seeing how you feel about it.  The protagonists in my two pieces both have disappointments, but ultimately feel very differently about them, and the stories have very different endings.  

Your stories’ settings seems to encompass both exotic locales and the seduction of travel– would you consider yourself a travel fiction writer?  

Yes, but I also have my hometown, NYC, to work with, which of course for some people is a travel destination.  I do feel that an interesting setting can greatly enhance a story, and because I do settings better than plots, I tend to go for the enhancement

What are you currently working on?  

A novel called “Jack”, which is another thinking man’s adventure story, which takes place in the Greek Islands in 1981.  And a novel called “Lucien and I”, which is a portrayal of a weird but close friendship, and its demise due to the quest for kicks one of the friends is on.

What inspired you to write this story? 

I wanted to show the power of an unfulfilled life, and how open an unfulfilled person can be to an interesting stranger.  Many people are constantly yearning for excitement and for more in their lives, and would be very receptive if a person stepped into their lives and delivered something along the lines of what they’re looking for.

What was the genesis of this story; that is, how was it born?

I write about people who are locked into a quest to make themselves feel fully alive. To convey that in “Mam from the Sky”, I created a thinking person’s adventure story.  It’s about a bored 73-year-old man who tried a number of times to make a life elsewhere, but didn’t succeed and wound up back where he was born.  He feels strongly that life has passed him by. A stranger appears in his life, and presents him with an opportunity to do something that feels real, and he takes it. It’s something that many of us daydream about.

What do you think is the role of tragedy or hardship in life?

Tragedy and hardship in real life are extremely unpleasant, without a lot of positive things you can say about them.  About the best you can say for them is that for better or worse they are part of the human condition, so one has to achieve some understanding of them and come to terms with them.  As a writer who grapples with the human condition, tragedy and hardship definitely come within the territory I’m working in.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer?

Favorite things – the pleasure of words, when a story and its characters come to life, when I write something that moves me and I believe will move at least some other people. 

Least favorite things – shortage of inspiration, the limited life experience I have to draw on, the limitations of my natural talent.”

“Man from the Sky” takes place in Majorca – how best would you describe the island’s seduction?

The island’s power of seduction lies in its stunning beauty, the casual elegance of the lifestyle, and the overall vibe, which is positive and unpretentious.  Originally I was seduced by the mountainous western coast, and by the physical beauty there being the exact type of natural beauty that I find most pleasing to look at (endlessly).  When I stay in that area, I rent houses in the Deia area.  

However, over the course of 25 or so visits to the island since 1987, and with the help of a close friend who now lives in Sa Caboneta (with whom I stay sometimes), I have explored many other parts of the island, and have come to appreciate the other types of beauty there — the vast rolling plains, the city of Palma, the beaches in the southeast, Formentor, Pollensa, Sant Elm, the road from Puigpuyant to Esporles, the extraordinary drive up over the mountains to Cala Tuent.  Every time I go, I discover something new and wonderful, and I expect that will continue for as long as I live.

You reside in New York City’s West Village.  Do you feel that there are many similarities between the West Village and Majorca?

Good question.  The two locales certainly have many things in common — for example, the West Village truly feels like a village, though surrounded by the massive city of New York.  The West Village has a human scale to it, and is calm and down to earth, all of which are similar to Majorca.  The two locales complement each other superbly.  Splitting time between the two is the perfect life, and gives me everything I need.

How far would you go to add excitement to a life you felt was boring and meaningless?

 In New York City based novelist Danny Wynn’s new book, Man from the Sky (Bacon Press Books; 140 pages) the answer takes protagonist Jaime by surprise.
Jaime is a 73-year-old man born and raised on the island of Mallorca. His father was American and his mother Mallorcan. He lives alone on the mountainous western coast of the island near the village where he grew up, though in the course of his life he has lived in New York City and London, without succeeding in building a meaningful life in either city. He feels forcefully that life has passed him by, and he suffers from isolation and lack of activity. One morning, he is out for a hike on the mountainside behind his house, and a small plane flies over the ridge top above him, abnormally low. A man parachutes out of the plane, which flies onward briefly and crashes in the sea. Jaime meets the man from the sky, and the man presents Jaime with a belated but extremely precarious chance to once again feel fully alive.
In a nutshell, it’s a drug smuggling operation gone bad. Intending only to help a man in need, Jaime invites Stefan, the man from the sky, home only to discover that his new guest has escaped with eight kilos of cocaine in a gym bag. Soon, Jaime becomes entangled in Stefan’s attempts to sell the cocaine and start a new life. As they dodge Parisian drug dealers and corrupt Mallorcan police, Jaime’s search for excitement and Stefan’s resolve to find stability lead them both down dangerous paths.
Man from the Sky story deals with the powerful need in some people to feel they are living their lives to the full, and how that need by itself can drive a person to extreme unexpected behavior.Publisher’s Website: http://www.baconpressbooks.com/Press.html

 

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