RAINBIRDS is a story of a young man who is trying to come to terms with his older sister’s death by finding out the truth behind her murder, but in doing so, he ends up confronting his own dark secret.
As I tend to do, I like to feature work that inspires, educates, and of course, entertains. Clarissa Goenawan does just that in her debut novel, Rainbirds. Intertwining elements of suspense and magical realism, award-winning literary debut RAINBIRDS opens with a murder and shines a spotlight on life in fictional small-town Japan. I asked her a little bit about her journey in publishing and what set her on the path to bring RAINBIRDS to life.
SH: How did you get into writing?
CG: It was my childhood dream. I’d loved reading ever since I was a kid and dreamt that one day, I would publish my own book. But I only started to seriously pursuing the profession after I quit my banking job at age twenty-four (probably not the most conventional thing to do, but I never regretted it.)
SH: What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
CG: The first draft! I’m always pleasantly surprised by the unexpected places my characters lead me to.
SH: What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
CG: The last few edits are the hardest for me. By then, I have grown too familiar with my work. It’s hard to discern the trees from the forest.
SH: Where did you get the idea for RAINBIRDS?
CG: One afternoon, I was just wondering, “What if someone I cared about suddenly passed away, and then, I realized too late that I never actually got to know them?” At first, I wanted to write a short story about a young man who had just lost his older brother, which later on, morphed to an older sister. And then, I realized there were so many things I wanted to explore in their relationship, and that this story has to be a novel.
SH: No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
CG: RAINBIRDS is part of a series of interrelated novels. So do keep a lookout at the side characters, because they might be the main characters for the next book.
Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her debut novel, RAINBIRDS, is the winner of the 2015 Bath Novel Award. Her short stories have won several awards and been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She loves rainy days, pretty books, and hot green tea.
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