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Interview with independent author Ronald Paul Speakes

Ronald Paul Speakes the independent author of the Swan-Knight series of novels, three international literary mysteries, about the art-related quests of the philanthropist Richard Palgrave and his two Buddhist monk colleagues. He currently lives with his artist wife, Donna, in suburban Washington, DC. We have conducted an interview with him.

What is it like to be an author of the "Swan-Knight series" of novels?
Interesting question. Probably not that different than being the author of any series of novels. Readers wonder to what extent I am like the protagonist, Richard Palgrave, who, of course, is a Swan-Knight-like character. However, although I feel I hold some of the values and viewpoints of the legendary Swan-Knight, I really don't feel I have much outwardly in common with Palgrave, despite the fact that he too emulates the Romance literary figure. Yet, it does feel odd, and gratifying, to have readers from various parts of the world tell me they identify with a hero whose quest is perfection -- symbolized by the elegance and beauty of a swan, which I interpret in terms of the highest qualities of life, or the understanding of life – such as science and mathematics, art and culture -- and they wonder if I think I personally live up to that ideal. Most days I'm just human, but some days . . .

What draws you into literary mysteries writing?
I decided when I was just a kid that I wanted "to be a writer." I grew up reading Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Buck and Lee -- that former generation of writers who approached their work rather seriously. But as I matured I also found I really liked the mystery genre. I thought of it as a chess game that has many gambits open to it yet also has clear-cut rules. What I wondered was could I use creative literary license to develop my own style of mysteries while at the same time respect the great traditions of the genre. To find out if it works you have to give them a read.

What is your background that influences your thinking and writing?
My education in philosophy and political theory has had a lot of influence on my thinking and writing. Also, I have a strong interest in, and appreciation for, the visual arts (and being married to an artist) that have nudged me in certain theme directions. And then, too, I have lived in many parts of the US, in Europe and in the Pacific Islands (which haven’t served, yet, as a location for a Swan-Knight book). And finally a near-life-long study of Buddhism has influenced the development of the Buddhist monk characters, which I’m very fond of, but also many other of the novels’ characters and plots. I also enjoy using my eclectic reading interests in pursuing the Swan-Knight’s goals.

Which are your favourite settings of the stories about the art-related quests of the philanthropist and his 2 Buddhist monk colleagues?
The Swan-Knight books have international settings ranging from North America, Europe and Asia to the Middle East which allows me to blend symbolism and culture in a meaningful way. I also have particularly liked being able to visit the settings of the novels and working out how actions may be carried out successfully in a practical sense. For example, I got a kick out of tramping about The Hermitage Museum, watched by suspicious eyes, trying to imagine the conditions for four masterpieces to be taken from there unseen back in 1974.

Who inspires you to craft the character of Richard Palgrave?
I have an odd group of people who have inspired me to craft Palgrave as a Swan-Knight character, as well as how I have chosen to present aspects of his personality and appearance. Among those inspiring people, you may be shocked to learn, is Wolfram von Eschenbach, the Medieval author of Romance tales, to include a version of the Swan-Knight. He presented his Swan-Knight with a great deal of mystery and, for his time, suspense, while leaving much for the reader’s imagination to fill in, especially since his Swan-Knight doesn’t have much page space to complete too many great quests . This view about the participation of readers I feel strongly about: specifically the joy it brings me – and hopefully them – by engaging with them in this literary mystery process.

Interview with independent author Ronald Paul Speakes Reviewed by JaamZIN on 8:42:00 PM Rating: 5
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